This study assessed the impact of the substance abuse treatment program of Virginia's Barrett Juvenile Correctional Center (BJCC) on the recidivism of youth released from the program.
The BJCC provides a highly structured therapeutic community that focuses on behavioral change and accountability for behavior. The treatment provided is grounded in behavioral and social learning concepts and includes anger management, life-skills development, substance education, relapse prevention, behavioral management issues, and individual and group counseling. The Correctional Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI) was administered at BJCC and Hanover Juvenile Correctional Center (a traditional institution without a therapeutic community) in order to assess the current state of treatment provided to the juvenile residents. The CPAI reveals how closely a program adheres to the principles of effective intervention that have been found to be associated with the outcome for offenders when released. The CPAI score for Barrett was "very satisfactory," and for Hanover it was "satisfactory, but needs improvement." In order to develop treatment and comparison groups, juveniles released from BJCC were matched with similar juveniles selected from those detained at Hanover. This process yielded 412 experimental youth and 406 comparison youth who were released between July 1, 1998, and June 30, 2000. Findings showed significant bivariate relationships among most outcome measures that pertained to variation in the number of recidivism incidents. When controlling for variations in individual characteristics, the BJCC youth still had fewer reconvictions than those detained at the traditional detention center. Barrett youth, however, had a higher number of substance-use incidents reported by the parole officer and a higher number of substance-related charges relative to the comparison youth. Most youth, regardless of institutional placement, were involved with the criminal justice system at least one time upon release. There was a significant difference in outcome between the Barrett program completers and non-completers, with the program completers having fewer reconvictions. Recommendations for program improvement are offered in the areas of standardized assessment instruments and the system of phases toward release. 5 tables and 32 references
Date Published: August 1, 2002