Research: Teens Still Struggle Three Years after Detention

In what's probably the largest-scale longitudinal study of its kind to date, researchers have assessed how well detained teens were functioning up to three years later. 
The results, in press at the Journal of Adolescent Health, were based on assessments of "1,653 youth arrested and detained between 1995 and 1998 at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) in Chicago, Illinois." Researchers used the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS).
What did they learn?

Roughly 1 out of 5 youth had "markedly impaired functioning," and of those, "nearly two-thirds were severely impaired in three or more areas of functioning. For example, these youth may have been expelled from school, engaged in serious violations of the law, and had drug addictions." (While this wasn't one of the study's major findings, they pointed out that "drug use is likely to escale for these youth after release.") African-American and Hispanic males were more likely to have "impaired functioning" than non-Hispanic whites or females.
This study did not attempt to show that detention causes these impairments; but it did show that many detained youth need comprehensive, coordinated and intensive services to be successful.  The authors recommend: (1) better connections to community services post-detention; (2) focusing services on those with the greatest need; and (3) providing interventions that are long-term, vs. acute. 
Thoughts? Please leave a comment!

Updated: April 02 2009