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Color in Court: Racial and Ethnic Disparities Initiative Program Assessment, Training and Technical Assistance

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,000,000)

Research has documented treatment courts’ ability to reduce criminal recidivism among participants. However, as treatment courts are assessed, one topic of concern has been racial and ethnic disparities (RED). Disparities have been found in lesser instances of access to treatment court programs and lesser rates of program completion for minorities compared to their white counterparts. To assist treatment courts identify and rectify RED in their programs, American University (AU) developed the Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) Program Assessment Tool (RED tool). The RED tool is an automated web-based platform that has a series of closed and open-ended questions to capture information about treatment courts’ operations and procedures, with an emphasis on examining areas where RED may exist. Upon completion, courts are given specific recommendations to implement in their programs. The RED tool is a resource to help treatment courts adhere to the evidence-based strategy of monitoring and evaluating drug treatment courts, including examining admission rates, treatment services, and outcomes of racial and ethnic minorities. Working with Florida State University (FSU) and subject-matter experts, AU will focus on the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s priority area 1A (promoting racial equality and the removal of barriers to access for communities affected by inequality). For more information on how this project will address priority area 1A, refer to proposal narrative, pages 3 - 8. Below is a list of the project’s overarching goals based around creating content (e.g., fact sheets, webinars, issues briefs), delivering mid-level training and technical assistance (TTA) to treatment court teams, developing an online module curriculum, and evaluating project components.

Raise awareness about racial and ethnic disparities (RED) in treatment courts and assist courts to identify RED in their systems and processes.
Rectify RED within treatment courts and assist with implementation of RED tool recommendations.
Conduct program evaluation of project components, including TTA and online module curriculum.

Once AU and partners implement their project, it will lead to treatment courts identifying racial and ethnic disparities in their systems and processes, treatment court professionals gaining tools to rectify racial and ethnic disparities in their programs, program and policy changes implemented to alleviate RED, and a reduction of the rate of racial and ethnic disparities in treatment court. If RED is reduced in treatment courts, minority participants will be more likely to enter and complete programs, which will lead to less crime for persons with substance use disorders.

Date Created: September 28, 2022