Deterrence: How Do Serious Juvenile Offenders Perceive the Rewards and Risks of Crime?
One of the reasons that we, as a society, lock up adolescents who commit serious crimes is that we believe it will deter them from committing future crimes. Deterrence is a foundational element in the rationale for, and mission of, the justice system.
Is Medicaid Irrelevant? - Weekly Roundup
The Campaign for Youth Justice released a report on the growing number of states changing their policies to keep more kids out of adult lockup.
Reclaiming Futures Hardin County got great coverage in the March 26, 2011 issue of the Kenton Times. Random quotes: Scott Mitchell, treatment court graduate, said, “I did a complete 180." Judge James Rapp: "If we are there for [the kids], they will be successful.” Follow the link to learn more.
After receiving training in anti-oppressive practices (follow link and scroll to find webinars, PowerPoints, and other resources), the Reclaiming Futures Bristol County team "developed 'YO', a pilot program which exposed seven young men from diverse ethnic backgrounds to the practices of oppressiveness and privilege."In an intense, 12-week program, they worked with adult mentors on "how to be successful in the face of the challenges they face in their daily lives."As Deirdre Lopes, director of the H.O.P.E. (Healthy Opportunities for Peaceful Engagement) Collaborative said, "We can tell them whatever we want, but there's no substitute for showing them. That's what really has an impact."Click the headline to see the April 5, 2011 story from South Coast Today.
What Works with Serious Juvenile Offenders - Pathways to Desistance Study
Reading comments from readers on news stories about youth in trouble, you'd think the juvenile justice system was designed to mollycoddle dangerous kids, turning them into super-predators.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Among other reasons, we know this because of "Pathways to Desistance," a research study led by Edward P. Mulvey, Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. (Dr. Mulvey and Carol Schubert contributed a post to us on their findings in April 2010.)
The "Pathways to Desistance" research study is a unique study of what works in the juvenile justice system. This large, multi-site research project followed 1,354 serious juvenile offenders for seven years. An informative brief on the study findings was released in 2009 by the MacArthur Foundation; now, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released another fact sheet, titled, "Highlights From Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders."
Here's what the study found:
How Juvenile Probation Officers Identify Youth Mental Health Needs
A few weeks ago, my colleague, Jeff Butts, discussed here the implications of our recent study of rates of psychiatric disorder in almost 10,000 young persons at various levels of penetration of the justice system. (Here's the original study: "Psychiatric Disorder, Comorbidity, and Suicidal Behavior in Juvenile Justice Youth.")
He drew attention to our finding that, when evaluated in a standard way, approximately 35% of young persons at system entry (i.e., entering the juvenile justice system via probation or family court processing) met criteria for a mental health or substance use disorder.
In that work, we relied on a well-validated, computerized, instrument which aggregates a youth’s answers to specific questions about symptoms to generate a set of provisional psychiatric disorders (the DISC-IV). But what happens about identifying mental health problems in settings where such research activities are not in place?
Assessing Program Outcomes Can be Tricky
I often work with juvenile justice programs and their staff, advising them on research and evaluation issues. I recently learned that people need to be reminded that using pre-/post-outcome comparisons to judge the effectiveness of a program can be misleading.
In a recent meeting I attended, a program director was defending the effectiveness of his agency's intervention approach. He described what he believed were solid measures of impact by first describing the rate of offending among his program's clients prior to intake (in terms of average arrests per year).
Then, he told us how that number was cut in half during the first year after a youth completed the program. According to him, this meant that the program had been proven effective.
For emphasis, he added, “With such good before-and-after data, we don't need any more evidence to know that we’re effective.”
Eeek, I thought to myself.
He clearly didn't realize that his assertion of effectiveness was risky and possibly flawed.
Many people believe that agencies can assess their effectiveness entirely with pre/post comparisons of youth outcomes, such as recidivism or drug use before and after treatment.
Apparently, they do not know about the statistical bias present in that sort of comparison.
Beyond "Scared Straight" – Moving to Programs that Actually Work
In the last couple of decades, we've seen an explosion of research that tells us what works in adolescent substance abuse treatment and in helping kids caught in the juvenile justice system turn their lives around. As a result, foundations and lawmakers have raised their expectations: quite rightly, they want to fund "what works."
Roundup: Decriminalizing Teen Prostitution
- Should Teen Girls Be Arrested for Prostitution? The median age for girls entering prostitution in the United States is 12 to 14; they often come from histories of abuse and are frequently coerced into prostituting themselves. Several states have moved to decriminalize the offense. What do you think? Leave a comment. (Hat tip to the Campaign for Youth Justice.)
- New York Times: Close More Juvenile Prisons. After reforms have left 10 of New York state's 25 juvenile prisons half-empty, the Times called for Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to shut more down for being wasteful and ineffective.
Roundup: New Federal Institute of Addictions Closer to Reality
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Research News and Resources
- An advisory group has recommended that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes on Alcoholism and Aclohol Abuse (NIAAA) be merged, along with all other addiction research efforts conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The group said that a new Institute of Addictions would integrate addiction research more effectively. The idea still has a number of hoops to jump through before it becomes a reality, but I was pleased to see that the working group's report recommended (see page 8) that adolescent substance abuse treatment should be prioritized. (Full disclosure: I wrote the post for Join Together that I've linked to here.)
Adolescents, Young Adults and Recovery Support Groups: Science-Grounded Principles for Juvenile Probation Officers
[The following is reposted with permission of the author from his website, Selected Papers of William L. White. -Ed.]
Every one seems to have an opinion about the need for or appropriateness of adolescent involvement in recovery support groups. One doesn’t have to go far to hear that such groups are inappropriate for adolescents or that adolescents do not do well in such groups. But what do we know about such involvement from the standpoint of science?
Listed below are the latest scientific findings related to such involvement. It should be noted that nearly all of these studies have evaluated adolescent involvement in 12-step groups and almost exclusively adolescents who have been treated in inpatient settings. There is scant scientific literature on the effects of adolescent involvement in secular or religious alternatives to 12-step groups. Here’s what is known about adolescents and 12-step involvement:
Census of Juveniles on Probation - Sneak Preview of OJJDP Data
A few weeks ago, I announced here that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) had completed its first-ever "Census of Juveniles on Probation" (CJP). Since the report's not done, however, I didn't have any data to share.
The report still isn't done, but it turns out that some preliminary data from the juvenile probation census is available online from George Mason University, where the work is being done.
Curious about the survey? You download the 2009 survey sent to juvenile probation offices in PDF format here. Next, you can review answers to some "frequently-asked questions," such as number of youth on probation by state, or the ratio of youth on formal probation to those on informal probation.
In addition, you can also view graphs for 18 pre-set reports based on the juvenile probation data, like the one pictured here for drug offenses. You can see nationwide snapshots of juvenile probationers broken down by age, race/ethnicity, gender and offense category, and many more. Just bear in mind that the data isn't final and may change. (Hat tip to Lore Joplin.)