This presentation describes a research and demonstration project funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and focusing on the use of intensive transition and aftercare services to improve juvenile offenders' reintegration into the community after a period in an institution.
The project began 2.5 years ago and is the most recent version of a decade of research and development on transition and aftercare for juvenile offenders. The project's assessment phase made clear that attention to transition and aftercare needs to begin at the time of a youth's committal to an institution, where the youth typically spends 7-9 months. The assessment also revealed that programs need to be empirically grounded, theory-based, driven by the risk of reoffending, selective and targeted, service-oriented, balanced in approach, collaborative in design, and generic in application. The model that incorporated these concepts included several underlying principles that formed the basis of specific components. Central to the model is overarching case management that includes the following five elements: (1) appropriate assessment, classification, and selection; (2) individual case planning from the family and community perspective; (3) a mix of intensive surveillance and services; (4) a graduated response capability that includes both sanctions and incentives; and (5) service brokerage. The project is operating in Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, and Virginia. High-risk youths are randomly assigned to the intensive aftercare program or to the usual services. Data collected so far reveal that most of the youths have three or more prior adjudications and were not attending school or had dropped out at the time of arrest. Other common problems were victimization through child abuse, drug abuse, drug selling, and incarceration or serious drug abuse in a family member. Process evaluation findings have revealed that the intensive program has greatly increased interactions with parole or aftercare officers both in the institution and in the community. The outcome evaluation will focus on both recidivism and basic social functioning. The research hypothesis is that targeted high-risk youth who receive the intensive services will have better social functioning and lower recidivism than other high-risk youth. Questions from the audience, answers from the speaker, and introduction by National Institute of Justice Director Jeremy Travis
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