Doing Treatment Ethnography in Justice Settings: Reflections from Two Decades in the Field

  • J. Mitchell MillerEmail author


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.


Applied fieldwork Program evaluation Program fidelity Treatment ethnography 


  1. Miller, J. M., & Miller, H. V. (2015). Rethinking program fidelity for criminal justice. Criminology & Public Policy, 14(2), 339–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North FloridaJacksonvilleUSA

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