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From Evidence-Based Practices to a Comprehensive Intervention Model for High-Risk Young Men: The Story of Roca

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2017
28 pages

One in a series of papers that will be published from the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Session on Community Corrections, this paper examines how Massachusetts-based Roca, Inc. (Roca) developed its evidence-based High-Risk Young Men Intervention Model (HYMIM), outlines its principles, and reports on its outcomes.


For more than a decade, Roca has rigorously examined its practices in community corrections with high-risk young male offenders, collected and analyzed data, changed its interactions with other institutions, and incorporated only those practices proven to be effective in reducing recidivism and improving employment. The HYMIM is a 4-year model that serves 17-24 year-old men at the highest risk of future incarceration. The model was implemented in 2011 and now operates in four sites that serve 21 communities across Massachusetts. It is based in the following eight principles: 1) Assess actuarial risk and needs; 2) Enhance intrinsic motivation; 3) Allocate more resources and appropriate treatment to those at higher risk; 4) Make cognitive-behavioral techniques and social-learning central to programming; 5) Increase positive reinforcement; 6) Engage ongoing support in natural communities; 7) Measure relevant processes and practices; and 8) Provide measurement feedback. After completing the first 2 years of the program, 93 percent of participants have not been rearrested; 95 percent have not been reincarcerated; and 88 percent of those on probation have complied with their conditions. In addition, graduates have had significant employment gains. This paper draws some lessons from Roca's work with evidence-based practices and suggests that its work with high-risk young men is an alternative to traditional community corrections.

Date Published: September 1, 2017