Jennifer Smith Ramey https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6311-932X

Fred Volk https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6957-485X

Fred Milacci https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5062-3247

Thomas Gogolin https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2540-8961


Introduction/Frame: Treatment courts (TCs) were developed in the 1980s to address challenges facing individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) involved in the criminal justice (CJ) system. TCs are an alternative to the punitive nature of the CJ system by joining SUD treatment with the accountability of the judicial system. By design, treatment court (TC) implementations are highly varied. Each implementation adopts the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) key components that are consistent with yet bound by their community resources, values, and political realities. Research Questions/Objective: Using qualitative community-based participatory research, two case studies and one phenomenological study were conducted with treatment courts in a mid-Atlantic state in the USA to examine successful TC operations. Methodology: Using purposive sampling, the analytic plan included individual semi-structured interviews with judges, TC team members, program graduates, and community stakeholders. Interviews were professionally transcribed and coded consistent with thematic analysis procedures. Results: Analysis revealed themes of judicial sovereignty juxtaposed with a lack of knowledge of SUDs, the importance of a fully dedicated coordinator to serve as an extension of the judge, and purposeful courtroom set-up and norms conducive to a therapeutic rather than punitive approach. Final Considerations: Transferable recommendations to other specialty docket evaluators and teams which can be adopted to fit a variety of dockets, including mental health court, veterans court, and juvenile court include mandatory judicial training, evolving operations norms, values alignment among the TC team, and a TC coordinator to oversee day-to-day operations. In addition, stakeholder engagement to drive an iterative evaluation process converges with the traditions of action research in community settings.




How to Cite

Smith Ramey, J., Volk, F., Milacci, F., & Gogolin, T. (2024). EDUCATING THE "GODS": OPERATIONS, OUTCOMES, AND OPPORTUNTIES IN TREATMENT COURTS. New Trends in Qualitative Research, 20(2), e960. https://doi.org/10.36367/ntqr.20.2.2024.e960