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Short Title

Relationship-based Process Justice

Abstract

Family drug courts (FDCs) have existed in the U.S. since 1994. Since that time, dozens of studies have found evidence that FDCs improve child welfare outcomes compared to traditional dependency courts. The level of sophistication of this research has stalled, however, arguably because the theoretical foundations of the approach are underdeveloped. The social psychological theory of procedural justice can predict and explain outcomes in treatment courts better than therapeutic jurisprudence. However, in light of evidence suggesting that gender impacts treatment court outcomes, procedural justice alone falls short as the mechanism of change in family drug courts, because women constitute the majority of FDC participants. To reconcile the empirical with the conceptual, concepts from Lind and Tyler's relational model of procedural justice are examined through the lens of the feminist relational cultural theory. Suggestions for continuing social work research into family drug courts are offered.

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