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Maine Juvenile Drug Treatment Court

Ages 13-18

Rating: Level 3


Maine, one of the few States to successfully implement a statewide system of juvenile drug courts, currently operates six such courts, which serve seven counties. The program provides comprehensive community-based services to juvenile offenders and their families (postplea, but prefinal disposition). It runs about 50 weeks and is in four phases, each with distinct treatment goals and specified completion times. Participants are required to attend drug treatment, weekly court appearances, and meetings with a drug treatment court manager. To advance to the next phase, participants must have a specified number of weeks of clean alcohol and drug tests and no unexcused absences from treatment or court appearances. In addition to treatment for substance abuse, the program offers a variety of other services, such as educational programming, job training, mental health services, and recreational planning. The program functions through a collaboration between the Maine District Court, the Maine Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services/Office of Substance Abuse, and the Maine Department of Corrections/Juvenile Services.


The Maine Juvenile Drug Treatment Court evaluation employed a quasi-experimental design with nonequivalent comparison groups. The treatment group consisted of 105 juvenile drug court participants who either completed the program through graduation or were expelled. The comparison group was constructed from information gathered from Maine’s Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Treatment Network. The group included 105 similar adolescent offenders who were exposed to traditional adjudication. The comparison group was matched on demographic characteristics, substance use history, criminal risk, living situation, and school status. All youths were tracked for 12 months following program completion. Intermediate outcomes measured were life improvements, relapse rates, and recidivism rates. Data included observations from court visits, biopsychosocial evaluations, weekly progress reports, case files, and interviews with program participants and key informants. Arrest data derived from two sources: 1) the Maine Department of Corrections and 2) the Maine Department of Public Safety.


The key evaluation findings in the evaluation include

  • A positive program effect, with fewer juvenile drug court participants (43 percent) being arrested than the control group (49 percent) and program graduates (40 percent) being the least likely to reoffend overall. Juvenile drug court participants are also less likely than the control group to be rearrested for alcohol- or drug-related offenses or for committing violent crimes.
  • The juvenile drug treatment court program has produced a reduction in criminal justice–related expenditures (costs of detention/jail, probation, and averted crimes) and will become cost-effective with expanded capacity.
  • An analysis of offender characteristics reveals that the majority of participants are moderate to high-risk, white males with fairly severe substance-abuse histories.
  • Offenders requiring a relatively low level of treatment intervention are one third as likely to recidivate as offenders requiring more intensive treatment interventions.
  • The rate of in-program positive drug tests among juvenile drug court participants in Maine (24 percent) is lower than the rate of positive drug tests for other adolescents in Maine’s juvenile justice system (33 percent).
  • Participants who are more frequently tested have lower rates of positive drug tests.


Anspach, Donald F., Andrew S. Ferguson, and Laura L. Phillips. 2003. Evaluation of Maine’s Statewide Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program: Fourth Year Outcome Evaluation Report. Augusta, Maine: University of Southern Maine.


Hon. Keith A. Powers
Maine District Court
P.O. Box 412
Portland, ME 04112
Phone: (207) 822-4269
Web site: