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Deterrent Effect of Curfew Enforcement: Operation Nightwatch in St. Louis

NCJ Number
210684
Author(s)
Lynn S. Urban
Date Published
July 2005
Length
321 pages
Annotation
The curfew-check program in St, Louis, Mo, called Nightwatch, was evaluated to determine whether its implementation and effects met the goals set.
Abstract
The purpose of Nightwatch is to monitor the court-ordered curfew of juveniles on probation through random visits to their homes during curfew hours to check on their curfew compliance. The goal of the program is to deter curfew violations and in the process reduce both the recidivism and victimization of juvenile probationers. If probationers are found to be in noncompliance with a curfew order, sanctions are applied. The program evaluation design involved a purposive sample of 118 probationers who had been referred to the juvenile court on an official charge. The experimental group consisted of juveniles who received Nightwatch visits, and the comparison group consisted of juveniles with comparable demographic and offense characteristics who did not receive visits. The process evaluation found that the program was functioning well in its execution of home visits, but the recordkeeping and number of visits were inconsistent with program plans and goals. The outcome evaluation determined that between Time 1 and Time 2, the experimental group had significantly fewer self-reported offense and victimization incidents than the comparison group. The reduction in recidivism and victimization in the experimental group was attributed to reduced opportunities rather than any change in attitudes by the probationers. Thus, the intended deterrent effect of Nightwatch was achieved. The author cautions, however, that these findings do not justify the program's replication in other sites, due to the small sample size, high rate of attrition, and its focus on only one site. Those jurisdictions considering a Nightwatch program are advised to carefully consider budgetary, logistical, and feasibility issues prior to implementation. Extensive tables, 250 references, and appended Nightwatch guidelines

Date Published: July 1, 2005