This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Evaluating Juvenile Mental Health Courts as Complex Adaptive Systems: A Mixed Method, Multimodal Program Evaluation Toolkit and Validation Protocol




Hinton, Amy

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Political Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



Significant interest remains in the development and expansion of specialty court programs for adult and juvenile offenders (Wexler and Winick 1991; Wexler 1995; Goin 2004; Munetz and Griffin 2006). However, the adult mental health court model has not been widely adapted for juvenile offenders (Arredondo et al 2001; Coccozza and Shufelt 2006; Lipow 2007). While a substantial evidence base exists regarding mental health and substance abuse treatment interventions for juvenile offenders, attempts to explore and analyze the overall efficacy of the juvenile mental health court (JMHC) program model as an intervention to improve individual bio-psychosocial outcomes, reduce recidivism, ensure offender accountability, and optimize public administration costs for juvenile justice systems are very limited. Researchers and policymakers currently lack valid, reliable standardized program evaluation instruments by which to measure and assess fidelity to the extant evidence based JMHC program model. For this exploratory dissertation, the researcher developed a comprehensive JMHC program evaluation toolkit and a validation protocol for implementation. Implications for future research are discussed and an ethical critique of the JMHC program model is presented.