Substance Abuse Treatment, Prisons, HIV Risks and Service Needs, Criminal Justice and Public Health, Implementation Science, Organizational Change, Interventions, Research Methods and Evaluation


Steven Belenko, Ph.D. is Professor in the Temple University Department of Criminal Justice, and is also affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine as adjunct Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry. Before joining the Temple faculty in August 2006, Dr. Belenko was a Senior Scientist at the Treatment Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Fellow at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Prior positions were held at the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, New York City Office of the Mayor, Vera Institute of Justice, and Mathematica Policy Research. Dr. Belenko is an internationally recognized scholar on the impact of substance use on the adult and juvenile justice systems, HIV risk behaviors and related service needs for offenders, and the integration of treatment and other services in various criminal justice settings. His current and recent research has involved improving implementation of evidence-based drug treatment in different criminal justice settings; developing and testing organizational change and process improvement strategies to improve the implementation of treatment and other health services for inmates and probationers; prevalence, risk factors, and service needs for sexually transmitted infections among juvenile delinquents; development and testing of brief interventions for delinquents at risk for substance use; computerized therapeutic interventions for drug-involved inmates; and improving use of evidence-based practices in juvenile and adult drug courts. He has been principal investigator on numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (including the Temple University Center for Adolescent Implementation Research) as well as the U.S. Department of Justice and several foundations.

Two newly funded projects involve (1) testing the impact of peer recovery support specialists on treatment for probationers with opioid use disorders (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse), and (2) developing and testing an intervention to improve linkage to medication-assisted treatment for inmates with opioid use disorders returning to Philadelphia from prisons and jails (funded by the PA Department of Health). Dr. Belenko has published numerous articles and book chapters, and is the author of four books: Crack and the Evolution of Antidrug Policy (winner of the American Library Association’s Choice Magazine academic book of the year award), Drugs and Drug Policy in America: A Documentary HistoryImplementing Evidence Based Addiction Treatment in Community Corrections (with Dr. Faye Taxman), and Drugs, Crime and Justice (with Dr. Cassia Spohn). Dr. Belenko received his B.S. in applied mathematics and Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Columbia University.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

  • Belenko, S., Bodas LaPollo, A., Gesser, N., Weiland, D., Perron, L., & Johnson I.D. (2021). Augmenting substance use treatment in the drug court: A pilot randomized trial of peer recovery support. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 131. Online publication ahead of print.
  • Martin, R., Stein, L., Rohsenow, D., Belenko, S., Hurley, L., Clarke, J., & Brinkley-Rubenstein, L. (2021). Using implementation interventions and peer recovery support to improve opioid treatment outcomes in community supervision: Protocol. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 128: September.
  • Vîlcică, E.R. & Belenko, S. (2021). Designing effective pre-release programs: Challenges and pathways towards successful reintegration. Advancing Corrections, 11, 112-127. 
  • Wasserman, G.A., McReynolds, L.S, Taxman, F., Belenko, S., Elkington, K., Robertson, A., Dennis, M.L., Knight, D.K., Knudsen, H.K, Dembo, R., Ciarleglio, A., & Wiley, T.A. (2021). The missing link(age): Multilevel contributors to service uptake failure among youths on community justice supervision. Psychiatric Services, 72, 546-554. 
  • Dennis, M.L., Smith, C.N., Belenko, S., Knight, D, McReynolds, L., Rowan, G., Dembo, R., DiClemente, R., Robertson, A., & Wiley, T. (2019). Operationalizing a behavioral health services cascade of care model: Lessons learned from a 33-site implementation in juvenile justice community supervision.  Federal Probation, 83, 52-64.  
  • Johnson, I. & Belenko, S. (2019). Female intimate partner violence survivors’ experiences with disclosure to informal network members. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Published online April 2019. Doi.10.1177/0886260519843282.
  • Belenko, S. (2019). The role of drug courts in promoting desistance and recovery: A merging of therapy and accountability. Addiction Research and Theory, 27(1), 3-15. DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2018.1524882. Published online: 13 Jan 2019
  • Hamilton, L. & Belenko, S. (2019). Substance use disorder treatment in the reentry environment: service receipt and prisoner community reintegration, Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46, 1295-1318September.
  • Belenko, S., Johnson, I., Taxman, F. & Rieckmann, T. (2018). Probation staff attitudes toward substance abuse treatment and evidence-based practices. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 62, 313-333.
  • Belenko, S., Visher, C., Pearson, F., Swan, H., Pich, M., O’Connell, D., Dembo, R., Frisman, L., Hamilton, L., & Willett, J. (2017). Efficacy of a structured organizational change intervention on HIV testing in correctional facilities. AIDS Education and Prevention, 29, 241-255.
  • Belenko, S., Knight, D., Wasserman. G.A., Dennis, M., Wiley, T., Taxman, F.S., Oser, C., Dembo, R., Robertson, A., & Sales, J. (2017). The Juvenile Justice Behavioral Health Services Cascade: A new framework for measuring unmet substance use treatment services needs among adolescent offenders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 74, 80-91.
  • Knight, D.K., Belenko. S., Wiley, T., Robertson, A., Arrigona, N., Dennis, M., Bartkowski, J., McReynolds, L., Becan, J., Knudsen H., WassermanG., Rose, E., DiClemente, R., Leukefeld,  C., & JJ-TRIALS Cooperative.(2016). Juvenile Justice—Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System (JJ TRIALS): A cluster randomized trial targeting system-wide improvement in substance use services. Implementation Science11, 57.
  • Hamilton, L. & Belenko S. (2016). Effects of pre-release services on access to behavioral health treatment after release from prison.  Justice Quarterly, 33, 1080-1102.
  • Belenko, S., Dembo, R., Hiller, M., Copenhaver, M., O’Connell, D., Pankow, J., Albizu-Garcia, C., Oser, C., Swan., H., & Pearson, F.  (2015).  HIV stigma in prisons and jails: Results from a staff survey. AIDS and Behavior, 20( 1), 71-84. 
  • Visher, C., Hiller, M., Belenko, S., Pankow, J., Dembo, R., Frisman, L., Pearson, F., & Swan, H. (2014).  The effect of a Local Change Team intervention on staff attitudes towards HIV service delivery in correctional settings: A randomized trial. AIDS Education and Prevention, 26(5), 411–428.
  • Mericle, A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., & McCart, M. (2014, September). Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 25, 614-636.  
  • Belenko, S., Hiller, M., & Hamilton, L. (2013). Treating substance use disorders in the criminal justice system. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15: 414.
  • Stahler, G., Mennis, J., Belenko, S., Welsh, W., Hiller, M., & Zajac, G. (2013). Predicting recidivism for released state prison offenders:  Examining the influence of individual and neighborhood characteristics and spatial contagion on the likelihood of reincarceration. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 40, 690-711.
  • Spohn, C. & Belenko, S.  (2013). Do the drugs, do the time? The effect of drug abuse on sentences imposed on drug offenders in three U.S. District Courts. Criminal Justice and Behavior40, 646-670.
  • Belenko, S. & Houser, K.  (2012).  Gender differences in engagement in prison-based drug treatment.  International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 56, 790-810.
  • Belenko, S., Fabrikant, N., & Wolff, N.  (2011). The long road to treatment: Models of screening and admission into drug courts. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38, 1222-1243.
  • Belenko, S., Dembo, R., Rollie, M., Childs, K., & Salvatore, C. (2009).  Detecting, preventing, and treating sexually transmitted infections among adolescent offenders: An unmet public health need. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 1032-1041.
  • Belenko, S. (2006).  Assessing released inmates for substance-abuse related service needs. Crime and Delinquency, 52, 94-113.
  • Belenko, S. & Peugh, J. (2005). Estimating drug treatment needs among state prison inmates. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 77, 269-281.

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods
  • Drugs, Crime, and Criminal Justice (honors)
  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice (graduate)
  • Seminar in Advanced Criminal Justice Research Topics: Drugs, Crime, and Justice (graduate)
  • Seminar in Special Topics in Criminal Justice: Public Health, Health Services, and Criminal Justice (graduate)
  • Decision Making in Criminal Justice (graduate)
  • Seminar in Criminal Justice Policy: Implementation Science (graduate)