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 abuse 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 abuse; 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.

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

  • Dennis, M.L., Smith, C.N., Belenko, S., Knight, D, McReynolds, L., et al. (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, 1295-1318.
  • 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.
  • Pankow, J., Willett, J., Yang, Y., Swan, H., Dembo, R., Burdon, W., Patterson, Y., Pearson, F., Belenko, S., & Frisman, L. (2017).  Evaluating fidelity to a modified NIATx process improvement strategy for improving HIV services in correctional facilities. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 45. 187-203.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Belenko, S. & Spohn, C. (2015). Drugs, Crime, and Justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Houser, K., & Belenko, S. (2015). Disciplinary responses to misconduct among female prison inmates with mental illness, substance use disorders, and co-occurring disorders. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 38, 24–34.
  • Spohn, C. Kim, B., Belenko, S., & Brennan, P. (2014). The direct and indirect effects of offender drug use on federal sentencing outcomes. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 30(4), 549-576.
  • Belenko, S., Visher, C., Copenhaver, M., Hiller, M., Melnick, G., O’Connell, D., Pearson, F., Fletcher, B. and the HIV-STIC Workgroup of CJDATS. (2013). A cluster randomized trial of utilizing a local change team approach to improve the delivery of HIV services in correctional settings: study protocol. Health and Justice, 1, 8.
  • Belenko, S., Hiller, M., & Hamilton, L. (2013). Treating substance use disorders in the criminal justice system. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15: 414.
  • Belenko, S., Hiller, M., Visher, C., Copenhaver, M., O’Connell, D., Burdon, W., Pankow, J., Clarke, J., & Oser, C. (2013). Policies and practices in the delivery of HIV services in correctional agencies and facilities: Results from a multisite survey. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 19, 293-310.
  • Houser, K., Belenko, S., & Brennan, P. (2012). The effects of mental health and substance abuse disorders on institutional misconduct among female inmates. Justice Quarterly, 29, 799-828.
  • 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.
  • Taxman, F.  & Belenko, S. (2012). Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Community Corrections and Addiction Treatment. New York: Springer.
  • 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
  • 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)