Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $342,737)
This study compares the adult criminal justice and child welfare system outcomes and costs of four pathways through the juvenile justice system - traditional probation, intensive probation, specialty court docket, and commitment to state youth services. This researcher-practitioner partnership involves Policy Research Associates, Inc. and the Summit County (Ohio) Juvenile Court (SCJC) and enhances current collaborations (NIJ Grant No.: 2009-IJ-CX-0038; Assessing the Effectiveness of Juvenile Mental Health Courts), allowing the awardee to compare the effectiveness and fiscal impact of a continuum of services and supervision in improving public safety, including re-arrest and re-incarceration, and improving outcomes in engagement with child welfare as parents, including child welfare complaints and dispositions.
Youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems have much greater risk of having a mental disorder, substance use, and many additional difficulties including early parenthood and child welfare contact. The juvenile justice system is often a waypoint for children and adolescents who have insufficient access to evidence-based interventions that could prevent their justice involvement. Interventions can range from regular probation to state detention with each having specific mandates and services. Their effectiveness both in terms of individual outcomes and cross-system effects is debated, and to date, no studies compare which intervention works best for which youth, and with what financial impact. The study will inform policy, programs, and basic research of the long range effectiveness of juvenile justice strategies by comparing four juvenile court pathways through, and out of the juvenile justice system. An additional outcome for Summit County Juvenile Court will be the development of a web-based, flexible data analysis program to be used for future evaluations of their court programs.
The principal research question is: what is the relative effectiveness of four different juvenile justice interventions/pathways on improving public safety and child welfare outcomes. More specific research hypotheses include:
o Youth on Intensive Probation will have fewer adult arrests and incarcerations than similar youth in either traditional probation or state detention;
o Youth in Crossroads (this Summit County juvenile court offers its clients mental health services) will have fewer adult arrest and incarceration outcomes than similar youth in either traditional probation or state detention;
o Youth placed in state detention will have the highest total costs compared with similar youth in traditional probation, intensive probation or Crossroads;
o Youth who become parents will have fewer adult arrests and incarcerations than similar youth who do not become married, and this improvement will remain unless they become divorced;
o Youth on Intensive Probation will have fewer child welfare substantiated complaints as parents than similar youth in either traditional probation or state detention;
o Youth in Crossroads will have fewer child welfare substantiated complaints as parents than similar youth in either traditional probation or state detention; and
o Youth who marry and become parents will have fewer child welfare substantiated complaints as parents than similar youth/parents who do not marry.
Research Subjects: Approximately 800: there will be four study groups of approximately 200 each drawn over the same time period (2003-2006), and the research team will conduct a 7 to 10-year follow-up in the adult justice and child welfare systems.
Research Design and Methods: Mixed methods, including but not limited to: comparative descriptive analysis, power and precision analysis, equivalence and outcome analyses, latent propensity scoring, and cost-benefit analysis. ca/ncf
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