Doing Treatment Ethnography in Justice Settings: Reflections from Two Decades in the Field
Drawing on over two decades of conducting site-based program evaluation in criminal justice settings (mostly jails and prisons), I reflect on how applied fieldwork on offender programming has grown and evolved alongside national criminal justice system reform movements. The rise of the evidence-based movement has fostered a regular role for qualitative research in treatment program evaluations. This site-based dependent work is oriented toward program fidelity assessment through participant data that can only be collected through qualitative techniques. After noting basic differences between ethnography and applied fieldwork, I emphasize the growing importance of treatment ethnography for substance abuse and criminal justice policy that hopefully signals opportunity to emerging drug ethnographers.