Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Week 5 Discussion: Connecting the Dots: What Is an Effective Program? | Abc Paper

Connecting the Dots: What Is an Effective Program? [WLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4] [CLOs: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
In Chapter 10, the text addresses primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention programs. We are going to review the different level programs and explore their effectiveness. Prior to beginning work on this discussion, read Chapter 10 in your text. (provided in attachments) In addition,

Read Diverting Young Offenders From Prison Is ‘Smart Justice.’
Read Dealing With Juvenile Offenders in the Criminal Justice System.
Read Nothing About Us Without Us! The Failure of the Modern Juvenile Justice System and a Call for Community-Based Justice (Links to an external site.).
Read Treatment Services in The Juvenile Justice System: Examining the Use and Funding of Services by Youth on Probation.
Watch It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing: Prison, Recidivism, and Remediation.  

In this discussion, we will examine the different levels of programs and provide an example for each level. When introducing a program to the discussion, provide a brief description of the program, its intended purpose, and the target juvenile population. Discuss your perceptions of these programs’ effectiveness. How did you come to your conclusion on effectiveness?
When responding to one of your classmates, use one of the text’s questions below concerning prevention programs to focus your response and further the conversation. Select one bullet below and present the positives and the negatives for the issue addressed:

Does every juvenile who has been arrested need treatment? Should all juveniles arrested receive the same treatment services? Why or why not?
Should prevention programs be given to everyone, and if so, where? Should we consider ethnicity, race, education, socioeconomic standing?
Are the services worth the taxpayer costs? Consider both financial and social costs.
Should we mandate prevention for school-aged children, their parents, or for both? What if the parents refuse to participate?
What role does the state have in addressing pre-criminal status offenses or delinquent behavior? Should the state have the authority to force parents to participate? What sanctions should the state have to enforce compliance?

Note: this discussion format will differ from formats in prior courses. You must post in the discussion on at least three separate days by Day 7; your total word count for your posts should be a minimum of 600 words. There is no required word count for individual posts as long as your combined posts total at least 600 words. However, you must use at least one in-text citation to support your claims and properly cite any references

October 2015 53

The turn from incarceration
of young people to diversion
programs is long overdue in
Michigan. The state has pri-
oritized trying adolescents as
adults, sending many young
people to state prison where
they are put on a path to a ca-
reers of crime, unable to access
needed educational ser vices
and employment opportunities
after their release.

The sheer cost is staggering,
with per-person spending on
prison far higher than that allot-
ted for schools, universities, or
virtually any other public service.

Gov. Snyder is correct in
pointing to the savings that can

Diverting Young
Offenders from Prison

is ‘Smart Justice’

From Bridge Magazine

Jennifer Kellman Fritz is an associate professor in the School of
Social Work at Eastern Michigan University. She is project director
of the Adolescent Diversion Project, which pairs EMU students with
court-connected youth in Washtenaw County.Condensed, with per-
mission, from Bridge Magazine, May 28, 2015. Read the article in
its entirety at

come from diversion programs
that keep first offenders out
of prison and connect them to
needed services. This is particu-
larly true of adolescent offend-
ers, who are young enough to
be set on a better path through
life, if they are helped through
programming, mentors, and ac-
cess to social work and mental
health services.

Good kids can
do Bad things

Poverty. Child abuse. Ne-
glect. Addiction. Mental illness.
Illiteracy. Community violence.
Racism. Homelessness.

These are but a few examples
of the problems frequently faced
by youth who break the law.
These kids are not “bad seeds.”



Too often, their unlawful actions
are a reflection of a life plagued
by social, economic, and famil-
ial problems far beyond their

Research has shown that the
adolescent brain is still evolving
and is not yet well calibrated for
making good decisions, even
under good circumstances. But
for the adolescent who lives
with trauma and tragedy, good
decision-making may seem an
unreachable goal. When the
adolescent has been denied
safety, security, love, and nur-
turance, brain development
can be altered. This means that
these young people may be
particularly vulnerable to poor
decision-making. These bad
decisions can haunt them for
the rest of their lives.

Our legal system does not re-
flect our understanding of ado-
lescent brain development. In
the present legal environment,
young people can be arrested
for many reasons, and without
intervention this early involve-
ment with the criminal justice
system can mark the beginning
of a lifetime defined by recidi-
vism. Without help, these youth
plummet into a negative spiral,
unable to pull themselves out.
This is especially true in lower-
income neighborhoods, where
there are more opportunities

for young people to get into
trouble, and fewer resources
to address their problems and
those of their family.

stopping the
downward spiral

To reach out to these strug-
gling youth, the Eastern Michi-
gan University Adolescent Di-
version Program (ADP) began in
the fall of 2011 as a collaborative
project between the Washtenaw
Juvenile Court and the univer-
sity’s School of Social Work. The
primary goal of the program is
to reduce the number of youth
who enter the juvenile justice
system or fall prey to the under-
currents of the school-to-prison

Ironically, even though juve-
nile crime rates have decreased
across the nation, the number
of young people involved with
the juvenile court system con-
tinues to be high—particularly
for youth of color in low-income
neighborhoods. And though the
mantra that “justice is blind”
permeates police departments
and courtrooms, the reality
remains that the youth most
likely to be funneled through
traditional punitive systems
and placed in locked facilities
are young offenders who, ac-
cording to the Annie E. Casey
Foundation, “come dispropor-

‘smart Justice’

October 2015 55

tionately from impoverished
single-parent homes located in
disinvested neighborhoods and
have high rates of learning dis-
abilities and mental health and
substance-abuse problems.”

Justice does discriminate.
In addition to race and class,
other factors make adolescents
more vulnerable to entering the
justice system. Youth with be-
havioral and mental health dis-
orders are also disproportion-
ately over-represented among
juvenile offenders. According
to Reclaiming Futures, which
helps youth dealing with drug,
alcohol, and criminal problems,
the overall juvenile mental ill-
ness incident rate ranges be-
tween 9-21%. However, juvenile
offenders have an incidence
rate of between 50-60%. With-
out intervention, they are often
confined to juvenile facilities
before moving on to a lifetime
of school dropout, adult unem-
ployability, homelessness, and
adult prison.

Opening Possibilities
The ADP has documented

success in helping first-time
offenders avoid further police
contact, with 93% of participants
meeting this goal. The program
depends countless people who
are passionate about helping
youth turn their lives around.

The ADP recruits undergrad-
uate social work student interns
to serve as mentors and con-
nects troubled youth with badly
needed educational, health,
mental-health, and social ser-
vice resources. Currently, 15-18
youth receive an average of 12
hours of mentorship per week
for 13 weeks each year. The pro-
gram endorses the belief that
one person can make a world of
difference in the life of a young
person in need.

Though the goal is to reduce
recidivism and create safer
communities, there are other
benefits. The mentoring com-
ponent is far-reaching and goes
well beyond focusing on the
youth’s criminal offense. Men-
tors are trained to understand
that a constellation of complex
variables play a key role in a
youth’s first offense, and men-
tors use these factors in devel-
oping unique action plans.

For some young people, par-
ticipating in the program means
finally having an adult believe in
them. For others, participating
brings a glimpse into the pos-
sibility of attending college. For
others, the program means that
they have the chance to eat in
a restaurant for the first time in
their lives. For all, the program
means that needs get met and
new possibilities are created. n

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Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for
Children at Risk
Volume 4
Issue 1 New Morbidities 2.0

Article 11


Nothing About Us Without Us! The Failure of the
Modern Juvenile Justice System and a Call for
Community-Based Justice
Charisa Smith Esq.
Brooklyn College, City University of New York, [email protected]

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Recommended Citation
Smith, Charisa Esq. (2013) “Nothing About Us Without Us! The Failure of the Modern Juvenile Justice System and a Call for
Community-Based Justice,” Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 11.
Available at:

C@R Home

mailto:[email protected]

Nothing About Us Without Us! The Failure of the Modern Juvenile
Justice System and a Call for Community-Based Justice

Special thanks to my research assistant, Justin Hamano. Thanks beyond words to my partner Joya Colon-
Berezin, whose support and encouragement enable this effort, many others, and true purpose.

This article is available in Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk:

The first juvenile court in the United States, founded in Chicago in 1899,
was implemented in order to help “rehabilitate” youth away from unlawful
and “incorrigible” behavior. Meant to be more developmentally appropriate
for children than the adult court system, juvenile courts sprang up
throughout the nation, and youth were often sentenced to time in
residential “training schools” that aimed to offer “treatment” to re-fashion
their moral characters and life chances. Today, mission statements
emphasizing children’s accountability for crime, and punitive purposes, are
more common in the juvenile justice system. The current system is also
failing our society.

A literature review engenders criticism of the system at all points—
arrest, court processing/litigation, and incarceration, as well as a need for
change. Measured up to the original juvenile court’s goals, the current
system does not effectively reduce recidivism, which is a standard
measure of the rehabilitation of young offenders. The current system is
wrought with racial disparities, operates with a minimal degree of cultural
competence, violates human rights laws and norms, and fails to empower
and reform—let alone morally transform—directly affected youth.

Juvenile justice approaches that are system-driven—relying on law
enforcement controls, courts, locked facilities, and medicalized programs
to manage youth crime—shatter social bonds and do not hold
governmental agencies accountable for wrongdoing or ineffectiveness.
System-driven approaches point to solutions and leadership outside of
actual at-risk communities in order to respond to youth crime, while only
nominally seeking to repair the personal and social harm done when a
crime is committed. Instead of providing continually, extensively available
resources and relationship-building for young offenders and their crime-
ridden communities over time, system-driven approaches provide
temporary assistance and then leave these groups to fend for themselves
after the relevant term of service.

In contrast, community-based approaches, or approaches that are
community-driven, capitalize on the strengths and assets inherent in the
native communities of young offenders, while addressing systemic
problems in the communities, and bolstering youth and community
leadership and self-determination. Community-based approaches to
juvenile justice are more closely aligned with the original goals of the
system, more effectively reduce crime, cost less, are more empowering,
help resolve civic fragmentation, and are more socially responsible. Only
with community-based solutions can we hope to truly ameliorate, and one
day eliminate, youth crime. These approaches lack the moral posturing


Smith: Nothing About Us Without Us!

Published by [email protected] Texas Medical Center, 2013

and implicit cultural biases of the status quo system, while helping
offenders face the people and places they love and reside in for years to
come. The legal profession, advocates, justice system officials, the private
sector, and diverse communities should support community-based
juvenile justice in order to treat each child in, and out, of the system with
their fundamental human dignity.

This article is the result of over ten years of work in juvenile justice. It will
address the ways that much delinquent youth behavior is normative,
suggesting community-based approaches that suit both youth and society.
New York City and New York State will be the most common geographic
referents, although other locations will be featured at times. Factually
speaking, there is no federal juvenile justice system, but rather 50
separate systems housed in different states, with a wide variety of
statutes, values, norms, practices, programs, and leadership structures.
For the purpose of this paper, the words “child,” juvenile,” and “youth” shall
be used interchangeably to refer to individuals under the age of 18. AMA
defines “child” as persons ages 1 – 12 and “adolescent” as persons age
13 – 17.

Although there are various state juvenile justice systems, racial
disparities abound nationally, in every aspect of the system. In 2007,
African American youth were overrepresented in the detained population
in 45 states. Many advocates now agree that there is a juvenile justice
system that actually works—the system that handles primarily White,
middle and upper class youth who engage in trouble-making behaviors yet
manage to avoid police and court-involvement altogether.


development experts refer to “social assets” like positive mentors, peers,
and civic engagement opportunities that keep these more affluent youth
from re-offending or winding up with system involvement. When these
factors are considered, we learn that the majority of youth in the system
can be more appropriately served outside of its confines. Community-
based approaches capitalize on these logical motivators for the low-
income youth of color. These approaches will ultimately keep a majority of
children from breaking the law—enabling them to flourish as contributing
members of society.


Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, Vol. 4 [2013], Iss. 1, Art. 11

The present definition of community-based approaches to juvenile
justice entails any, and ideally all, of the following: 1) Empowerment of
communities and youth who grapple with mass over-incarceration,
poverty, violence, under-performing schools, a lack of mental health and
health care services, and a dearth of opportunities for growth and
development. Such empowerment should honor the expertise and
leadership of those directly impacted by the issues; 2) Cultural
competence that merges legal service delivery, capacity-building, and
advising with the cultural traditions, methodologies, and linguistic elements
of the populations receiving services, while acknowledging the concrete
causes of racial disparities and injustice; 3) Support for the formation of
social bonds across structural, perceived, and actual adversarial
boundaries; 4) Support from the private and public sectors alike; 5) The
ability to hold government agencies, especially law enforcement,
accountable through legal structures and requirements, community
engagement, and varied cultural methodologies; 6) A
foundation/accountability system rooted in human rights laws and norms.

History Coming Full Circle
While many may see community-based approaches to juvenile justice as
a novel development, those who promote them are—historically
speaking—actually bringing the field full circle. It is important to
acknowledge that juvenile justice administration, programming, and policy
happen to be highly cyclical, and that even when a radically divergent step
from a present moment is taken, traces of the past can be evident. From
the very first time that a case was heard in 1899, the issues of cultural
privilege, racial division, moral complexity, and professional overreach
were present. Parents were suspiciously absent, and the judges and
attorneys attempted to serve as moral watchdogs. Turn of the century city
businesses complained that the juvenile court brought the “unwashed” into
the business district, referring to a largely immigrant, working class, and
African-American clientele. There was a dearth of community programs
and foster families, and training schools and reformatories received the
bulk of delinquents at disposition. Further, experts and court
administrators provided a range of explanations for delinquency, including
an unfit community and geographical environment, moral depravity,
hereditary degeneracy, and insanity.

While criminologist Franklin E. Zimring asserts that the original
juvenile court had two motivating principles, or rationales—one
“interventionist,” and the other “diversionary”—it can be argued that the
latter is the most applicable today, and that the former remains as


Smith: Nothing About Us Without Us!

Published by [email protected] Texas Medical Center, 2013

controversial now as it was in the beginning. Diverting children away from
the criminal justice system’s harsh punishments, stigma, public and media
exploitation, and standards of adult culpability, was primarily
uncontroversial in 1899. Early founders believed that the juvenile court
could do more good than the criminal court, in part, simply by doing less
harm. The negative impact of adult criminal court involvement and
incarceration will be explored herein, and is well known. Helping youth to
avoid those pitfalls is necessary. The interventionist rationale was, and
remains, more highly questionable.

Founding reformers disagreed about the extent to which the original
juvenile court was meant to intervene in children’s and families’ lives. As
this paper will show, too many juvenile justice interventions involve having
outside professionals without personal experience to make a business out
of servicing in at-risk neighborhoods. These professionals to attempt to
“fix” offenders and their families, creating a persistent social stratification,
a lack of civic empowerment, and a moral overreaching. As the original
juvenile court became further established, former chief probation officer
John McManaman likewise criticized that “public officials [were] peeping
into the home and attempting to establish a standard of living—a standard
of conduct and morals—and then measuring all people by that standard.”
Paul Cressey, a sociologist in the court’s community association in 1925
even explained, “[I]t may be said with truth that the chief function of the
[JPA]…is to attempt to apply the mores of a small New England
community to a great cosmopolitan city” and that court investigators and
case handlers were “unwelcomed outsiders in the neighborhoods that they
investigated, surveyed, and policed.”

At a turning point when many reformers agreed that the original
juvenile court had become “too bureaucratic” by 1925, it was native
community leaders—themselves reformed delinquents—who saw
themselves as the solution. Leaders of the court explained that for society
to move forward, local communities had to become more involved. When
court proponents grew tired of failed attempts to send children outside of
allegedly dysfunctional, low-income neighborhoods, they began providing
funding to help area residents organize their own communities.

The Chicago Area Project (CAP) bears a strong resemblance to the
community-based approaches promoted herein. In CAP, formerly
delinquent young men began training “neighborhood leaders” to handle
juvenile justice services and court concerns, instead of depending on
“professionally trained leaders recruited from sources outside…” These
native young men partnered with social service agencies and advised and
assisted residents with school matters, court appearances, employment


Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, Vol. 4 [2013], Iss. 1, Art. 11

opportunities, re-entry from incarceration, and other civic issues. CAP
advocates bridged cultural divides between the professionalized cadre of
employees within the court system, the schools, and other public
institutions, and the struggling immigrant and minority communities that
they hailed from and served. As the status quo juvenile justice system
today continues producing unfavorable outcomes at an astronomical cost,
it is time to return to community-based solutions.


The problems with modern juvenile justice begin with police interactions
with youth. Alarming racial disparities persist, despite findings that arrest
patterns don’t follow actual patterns of offending, and that the location of
police stops and patrols do not decrease crime. African-American youth
make up 30% of those arrested nationwide, while they only represent 17%
of the overall youth population. While the overall juvenile arrest rate has
remained near a 25-year low, disparities between White and Black arrest
rates in 2006 were at the highest point in a decade. Members of the New
York Police Department (NYPD) have been captured on tape describing
pressure to fill arrest quotas despite an absence of rationale. If anything,
the modern juvenile justice system requires going through the motions of
arrest and intake, without effectiveness, efficiency, or delivery of justice to
the public, crime victims, or offenders.

Racial Disparities Don’t Uncover More Crime
Police persist in occupying and scrutinizing mostly urban schools, and in
stopping and frisking mostly low-income youth of color on the streets,
even though these practices do not yield more contraband or amount to
productive arrests. There are roughly 12,000 arrests of youth ages seven
to 15 in New York City (NYC). In NYC, Black children are 5.9 times more
likely to be arrested than White children. Latino children are 3.0 times
more likely to be arrested than White children. The national picture is
similar. Unproductive and unnecessary stop-and-frisks are not a mere
inconvenience to be taken lightly. They demoralize youth and raise
serious Constitutional concerns.

Cops, not Classes: An Entrance into the School to Prison Pipeline
Several decades ago, arrests for assault, long-term exclusion from school,
juvenile detention, or a restraining order were not in the picture when
students misbehaved in school. Now, many youth are criminalized for
fairly typical teenage behavior. Yet, most school discipline today actually
does not involve weapons or extreme behavior. A very small minority of


Smith: Nothing About Us Without Us!

Published by [email protected] Texas Medical Center, 2013

young people, even in areas of high crime, is involved in serious criminal
Punitive zero tolerance strategies for administrative and police
scrutiny of youth in schools are largely responsible for school arrests. A
media frenzy and political shift in the late 1980s and early 1990s warned
the public against juvenile “superpredators,” casting youth of color as
hardened criminals, and calling for “tough on crime” approaches.
Politicians and strategists had created this phenomenon, and the media
propagated these concepts, causing a flurry of punitive legal measures,
including zero tolerance.

Predictions of soaring juvenile crime proved unwarranted, but the
policies and media hype remained. Despite a 20-year implementation,
zero tolerance does not keep children or communities safe. Zero tolerance
was originally developed as an approach to drug enforcement but became
widely popular in schools, to apply punitive predetermined consequences
regardless of the gravity of behavior, mitigating circumstances, or
situational context. The zero tolerance philosophy reasons that removing
students who engage in so-called disruptive behavior will deter others
from disruption. As a result, over 5,000 school safety agents (SSAs)
patrol NYC schools hallways—comprising a presence greater than the
entire Dallas police force.

From metal detectors, to scanners, to security cameras, to clothing
bans, to automatic disciplinary consequences for drugs as innocuous as
aspirin, zero tolerance policies create a prison-like environment in the very
place where students should feel open and nurtured. Lockdown High:
Fear vs Facts On School Safety, examines the phenomenon of punitive
school discipline. When one stark, urban school was retrofitted to become
a charter institution, the new staff was horrified to find such draconian
measures as a pre-arrest lock-up space that resembled a cage. Further,
there is little evidence that exclusions from school actually work. Instead,
they predict higher future rates of misbehavior, law-breaking, suspension,
and later likelihood of school dropout and delayed graduation.
Additionally, contrary to popular belief, there is no crisis of school violence
in the first place.

Later in this article, we will explore research on juvenile brain
development to justify a break from the status quo system. For now,
suffice it to say that zero tolerance policies do not work as deterrence
strategies because deterrence hinges on rationalization and personal
choice. Adolescents are at the height of a stage of brain development
where impulsivity, susceptibility to peer pressure, and disregard of future
consequences reign biologically over the types of rational choice – making


Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, Vol. 4 [2013], Iss. 1, Art. 11

capabilities that will develop later in their twenties. If asked how the
average teenager behaves, most individuals would describe a tendency to
defy authority and to act on a whim. While the brain research is essential,
it does not take scientists to figure out that deterrence – related policies
are unwise for improving youth behavior. Further, national studies also
reveal that criminalizing students in school can be a cause, rather than a
deterrent, of youth crime.

Excessive Drug Arrests and Rising Drug Use
In 2010, the NYPD made low-level marijuana possession offenses the
number one arrest category, and 70% of those arrested were under 30
years old while 86% were Black and Latino. Nationally, Black youth are
arrested for drug offenses at around twice the rate of Whites, representing
almost half (48%) of all youth incarcerated for drug offenses. Yet,
research consistently reveals that White youth self-report using both
marijuana and “harder” drugs at higher rates, and that rates of drug
dealing are similar across racial lines. As legal scholar James Forman, Jr.
points out, “police stay far away from prep schools awash in drugs.”
Further, disparities in penalties for comparable drugs, or in the
implementation of penalties themselves, persist despite their failure to
decrease drug use, sales, and distribution.

Should We Just Arrest More White Kids?
Given the fact that youth drug use is on the rise in all age groups, it
stands to reason that current strategies for patrolling and drug arrests are
ineffective. We do not recommended, however, that police suddenly flood
the suburbs, prep schools, and affluent summer camps, making arrests of
more White youth to solve these problems. On the contrary—arrest and
court involvement are criminogenic and will anger youth and stunt their
growth. Putting more White youth into the current system would not
benefit public safety or White youth either. We need strengths-based
programming to keep all youth from harmful substances and behaviors.

Police and Communities At Odds, and Special Populations
Currently applied policing strategies have also created turbulent police-
community relations that harm civic life and result in too many
unacceptable deaths. Most heavily policed communities feel at odds with
local police departments; there is particular anger about aggressive
policing tactics being carried out upon vulnerable youth. Lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and noncitizen youth are special
populations that have especially problematic police contact. We must pay


Smith: Nothing About Us Without Us!

Published by [email protected] Texas Medical Center, 2013

particular attention to their experiences in order to understand the failures
of the current system. LGBT youth in NYC and several other cities have
documented the abuse they receive, particularly on the streets. Myriad
youth organizations have created resources, “copwatches,” and activism
events specifically about the police brutality and harassment that they
experience. Additionally, police contact, contact with immigration officers,
and subsequent embroilment in the juvenile justice system, has become
the start of nightmarish circumstances for immigrant youth.

Sensational and tragic cases of police brutality point out that
communities are furious, and that police departments need to approach
both youth and adults with extreme conscientiousness and proper legal
rationale. Police misconduct alienates and dehumanizes youth; and in
addition to the ineffectiveness and abusiveness of existing arrest and
patrol strategies, law enforcement remains largely unaccountable for its
own misconduct and ineptitude. Current law enforcement practices in the
juvenile justice system are not leading to enhanced public safety, youth
wellbeing, sound resource allocation, governmental accountability, or
humane justice.

An examination of modern court intervention reveals further racial
disparities and miscarriages of justice.

Unequal Access to Counsel, Pressure to Plead
Once a young person is thrust into the juvenile justice system, if their case
is formally processed, they will need adequate legal representation. Yet,
the lawyer’s office is not a level playing field. Studies reveal that youth of
color and White youth receive differential access to counsel. In many
states, frightened youth simply waive their right to counsel—and courts
appear to welcome the reduction of the docket. While public legal
services providers can be dedicated, skilled, and extremely diligent,
private attorneys receive far more resources to obtain a favorable result
for their client and are often able to devote significantly more time to each
child’s case. These circumstances make having a private attorney a way
to improve a youth’s chances of receiving less punitive treatment; and
White youth are twice as likely as African American youth to be able to
retain private counsel. Further, a majority of youth in the justice system is
pressured to plead guilty of their crimes, avoiding trial and becoming
vulnerable to lasting collateral consequences.


Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, Vol. 4 [2013], Iss. 1, Art. 11

The Difficult Question of Discretion: Disparate Concerns, Disparate
While most juveniles are presumed capable of being tried in juvenile
court—also called family court—some of them are transferred (also called
waived) to the adult criminal court system due to the nature of their
offense, the unlikelihood of their amenability to treatment in the juvenile
system, and other aggravating factors. In the 1980s and 1990s, many
states passed laws where prosecutors can file to transfer or waive a
juvenile to adult court, and still other laws that called for automatic transfer
or waiver based on offense categories. Today, prosecutorial discretion
results in vastly disparate, ineffective treatment of White youth and youth
of color. Prosecutorial and statutory waiver have been found to control
about 85% of decisions to prosecute juveniles as adults. Currently, 15
states have “prosecutorial discretion,” “direct file” or “concurrent
jurisdiction” provisions that place the decision in the hands of prosecutors.

Trying youth in adult court causes a host of problems, including
harsher sentencing; exposure to sexual assault, suicide, and death in
incarceration facilities; increased contact with more serious offenders for
impressionable youth; likelihood of recidivism; and often insurmountable
collateral consequences for work, housing, and education due to felony
conviction records.

An estimated 250,000 children under 18 are tried as adults each
year; and studies reveal that prosecutorial decisions about transfer are
based on subjective, non-offense specific characteristics, leading to racial
disparities. There is also evidence that presentence reports by probation
officers portray “The delinquency of Black youth as stemming from
negative attitudinal and personality traits, while portrayal of White youth
stressed the influence of the social environment.”

Although there are some indications that judicial discretion may
lead to fairer juvenile court outcomes, increasing judicial discretion is not
the appropriate solution. Advocates in the national juvenile justice reform
movement often point to racial disparities in prosecutorial discretion as a
reason for enhancing judicial discretion. It is true that the juvenile court
was created with the goal of having a neutral fact-finder decide the youth’s
amenability to “rehabilitation” and his or her appropriateness for the
juvenile court system or the adult system. In this paper, however, we
contend that judges are often just as tainted by unacknowledged bias as
prosecutors and any other system officials. A consistency in disparate
outcomes remains.


Smith: Nothing About Us Without Us!

Published by [email protected] Texas Medical Center, 2013

Research that accounts for the intersectionality of young offenders
with other child-serving systems shows that the greater the permitted
discretion, “the more likelihood that youth of color will be treated more
negatively than their White counterparts.” Essentially, when youth are
involved in the juvenile justice system, the child welfare system, the
mental health system, and the health care system, or most combinations
of those systems together, the biases of decision-makers in the various
systems accumulate, and the greater chance there is for discretion to be
exercised, the more likely the youth is to receive discriminatory treatment.
Ultimately, our dependence on decision-makers that lack personal
familiarity with the culture of the offenders and their communities has led
to racial injustice and serious misconceptions both inside and outside of
the courtroom.

Incarceration is another segment of the system that has proven
ineffective, inequitable, and damaging to children, families, and society. It
is now unsustainable. “One day counts” of juvenile detention facilities for
the latest year that data are available, 2006, show that African American
youth were six times more likely than White youth to be detained, Latino
youth were more than twice as likely, and Native American youth were
nearly four times as likely. Data shows …


Treatment Services in
the Juvenile Justice System:
Examining the Use and
Funding of Services by
Youth on Probation

Clair White

Youth enter the juvenile justice system with a variety of service needs, particularly for mental
health problems. Research has examined the extent to which youth have mental health disorders,
primarily among detained youth, and factors associated with treatment referrals, but little
research has examined youth on probation and the actual use of services. Using data obtained
from the Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department from July 2012 through August 2014
(N ¼ 3,779), the current study examines (1) the factors associated with receiving treatment
services while on probation and (2) the factors associated with receiving treatment services
through different funding streams. Findings reveal that only about 25% of the sample of youth on
probation received treatment services, suggesting the underservicing of youth. Consistent with
prior research, there were also racial and ethnic disparities concerning treatment use, with Blacks
and Latinos less likely to receive services. Additionally, certain characteristics of youth and their
background influenced the funding source for treatment services. Implications for policy and
research are discussed in light of these findings.

probation, treatment services, service use, juvenile justice, racial/ethnic disparities

The juvenile justice system has multiple responsibilities often serving conflicting goals of punitive

sanctions and rehabilitative treatment (Bishop, 2006; Lipsey, Howell, Kelly, Chapman, & Carver,

2010). The system must not only address the current delinquent behavior but also, in many cases,

consider the health and well-being of the youth. Youth come into the juvenile justice system with

more complex problems and greater needs for mental and behavioral health services, which has

resulted in more attention on efforts to rehabilitate and address youth’s mental and behavioral

Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

Corresponding Author:

Clair White, Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University, 4400

University Dr., MS 6D12, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA.

Email: [email protected]

Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice
2019, Vol. 17(1) 62-87
ª The Author(s) 2017
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1541204017728997

service needs (Myers & Farrell, 2008). Research has examined a number of issues related to mental

health and behavioral health problems of youth in the juvenile justice system, particularly identify-

ing the rates of mental health problems and service needs among youth and factors associated with

treatment referrals of youth in different systems of care (i.e., juvenile justice system and mental

health system).

Research on mental health problems in justice-involved youth has primarily focused on the

service needs of youth and where they have been referred to meet these needs and not on whether

they actually received those services. Additionally, much of the work examines youth in detention or

compares youth sentenced to community versus correctional supervision rather than youth on

probation which is the predominate sentence in the juvenile justice system. The current study uses

juvenile probation data from a large, urban jurisdiction in Arizona to examine these issues. More

specifically, legal and extralegal factors associated with the use of treatment services among youth

on probation supervision are examined. Furthermore, the extent to which services are funded by the

juvenile justice system has not been empirically examined, therefore, whether these services are

funded by the juvenile justice system or external funding sources such as Medicaid or private

insurance is also examined.

Unmet Service Needs and Treatment Referrals

Youth involved in the juvenile justice system often experience multiple adversities or risk factors,

such as economic disadvantage, experiences of abuse and neglect, unstable family environments,

exposure to drugs and alcohol, and mental illness (Esbensen, Peterson, & Taylor, 2010; Huizinga,

Loeber, Thornberry, & Cothern, 2000; Loeber & Farrington, 1998). Research has generally found

that 65–70% of youth in juvenile justice facilities, primarily detention centers and correctional
facilities, suffer from at least one mental health disorder (Shufelt & Cocozza, 2006; Teplin, Abram,

McClelland, Dulcan, & Mericle, 2002; Wasserman, McReynolds, Lucas, Fisher, & Santos, 2002),

while rates among youth on probation are approximately 50% (Wasserman, McReynolds, Ko, Katz,
& Carpenter, 2005).

Additionally, comorbidity, or the presence of more than one mental or behavioral disorder, is

particularly high among youth in juvenile justice settings (Abram, Teplin, McClelland, & Dulcan,

2003; Kessler et al., 1996; Teplin et al., 2002). Shufelt and Cocozza (2006) found that roughly 79%
of those who met criteria for at least one mental health disorder had two or more diagnoses.

Unfortunately, many of these mental and behavioral service needs are not met in the community

(Flisher et al., 1997; Jensen et al., 2011; Kataoka, Zhang, & Wells, 2002; Ringel & Sturm, 2001). As

a result, the coexistence of multiple disorders in addition to other criminogenic risk factors makes

prioritizing mental and behavioral service needs more challenging for the juvenile justice system

(Grisso, 2004).

Research has examined factors related to unmet service needs and the avenues through which

youths’ mental health needs are met through various service sectors, such as the mental health

system and juvenile justice system (Burns et al., 2004; Stahmer et al., 2005; Thompson, 2005).

Among the general population, children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health problems

are gravely undertreated with high rates of unmet service needs (Angold et al., 1998; Flisher et al.,

1997; Horwitz, Gary, Briggs-Gowan, & Carter, 2003). Studies have examined characteristics of

children with unmet mental health needs and their families using various samples to identify key

predictors of treatment service use and unmet service needs.

Among the primary factors associated with unmet service needs are elements related to economic

disadvantage such as living on public assistance, lack of health insurance, and transportation prob-

lems (Chow, Jaffee, & Snowden, 2003; Cornelius, Pringle, Jernigan, Kirisci, & Clark, 2001; Haines,

McMunn, Nazroo, & Kelly, 2002). Race and ethnicity are also strong predictors of unmet service

White 63

needs with Whites being more likely to receive mental health services compared to minorities

(Angold et al., 2002; Garland et al., 2005; Kataoka et al., 2002; Thompson, 2005; Yeh, McCabe,

Hough, Dupuis, & Hazen, 2003). Studies have also found that minorities have limited opportunities

to access mental health services (Arcia, Keyes, Gallagher, & Herrick, 1993), and once they start

treatment they are less likely to complete treatment (Kazdin, Stolar, & Marciano, 1995).

Research has also found involvement in the mental health system increases the likelihood of

being referred to the juvenile justice system (Cohen et al., 1990; Evens & Stoep, 1997; Rosenblatt,

Rosenblatt, & Biggs, 2000). In addition, younger adolescents, females, and White youths are more

likely to be referred to the mental health system, while minorities, males, and youths with more

serious and disruptive mental health disorders are more likely to be referred to the juvenile justice

system (Atkins et al., 1999; Cohen et al., 1990; Dembo, Turner, Borden, & Schmeidler, 1994; Evens

& Stoep, 1997). In general, service needs of disadvantaged and minority youth are often not

recognized until their contact with the juvenile justice system (Golzari, Hunt, & Anoshiravani,

2006; Rawal, Romansky, Jenuwine, & Lyons, 2004; Rogers, Pumariega, Atkins, & Cuffe, 2006).

Upon entering the juvenile justice system, service needs often continue to go unmet even after

identification of need for treatment (Rogers, Zima, Powell, & Pumariega, 2001; Shelton, 2005).

Shelton (2005) found that only 23% of youth diagnosed with mental health disorders received
treatment and that having a mental disorder was not a significant predictor of receiving services.

A recent study conducted by Hoeve, McReynolds, and Wasserman (2014) found that youth with

externalizing disorders and substance use disorders were more likely to receive referrals, while only

40% of youth with internalizing disorders referred to service. Consistent with the findings from the
general public, Whites are more likely to be referred to services compared to Black youth in the

justice system (Dalton, Evans, Cruise, Feinstein, & Kendrick, 2009; Lopez-Williams, Stoep, Kuro,

& Stewart, 2006; Maschi, Hatcher, Schwalbe, & Rosato, 2008; Rogers et al., 2006), but there are

some mixed findings (Breda, 2003; Hoeve et al., 2014). Shelton (2005) concluded that

while the total responsibility for the well-being of children does not lie solely with the juvenile justice

system, the decision not to provide treatment services to youth in need and under their care implies

neglect . . . it implies a perception that these youth will go away, be treated elsewhere, or grow out of their

problems. (p. 110)

These prior studies do not provide a clear set of predictors for service referrals and many studies

were not able to control for offense severity and criminal history (Dalton et al., 2009; Lopez-

Williams et al., 2006; Rawal et al., 2004), which are likely to influence referrals for services.

Regardless, there were discrepancies in service referrals in the juvenile justice system. Receipt of

service referrals was not found to be dependent entirely on the need for services but may be

influenced by other factors that create disparities in the health of youth. Furthermore, these studies

did not take into account access (i.e., availability, health insurance, etc.) to referred services or

whether youth were actually using the services.

Many of the studies previously discussed use referrals for treatment services as the outcome of

interest, but little research has examined the actual receipt or use of treatment services by youth

(Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Washburn, & Pikus, 2005). Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Washburn,

and Pikus (2005) found that roughly 16% of youth who had been identified as needing mental health
services during detention received services within 6 months from detention or by disposition.

Additionally, 11% of youths received services but did not meet the definition of need. Johnson
et al. (2004) examined substance abuse treatment need and use among youth entering juvenile

corrections and found that nearly half of youth with need for substance abuse treatment received

services. Rawal, Romansky, Jenuwine, and Lyons (2004) examined racial differences in mental

health needs and service use among incarcerated youth. The authors found that Blacks had the

64 Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 17(1)

greatest level of mental health needs, but the lowest level of prior and current service use. In general,

these studies emphasize how few individuals actually receive services for their mental and beha-

vioral service needs as well as the “benign neglect” of the juvenile justice system in addressing

mental and behavioral service needs (Herz, 2001).

Lastly, receiving referrals for treatment or participating in certain programs and treatment does

not necessarily translate into needs being met (Grisso, 2004). The justice system has the difficult task

of distinguishing youths’ need for specific programs that target criminogenic risk factors from the

need for treatment services that address their overall mental well-being. Given limited training and

resources, some needs are often prioritized over others, leaving other needs unaddressed (Haqanee,

Peterson-Badali, & Skilling, 2015). Responsivity is a key component of the risk-needs-responsivity

(RNR) model in offender treatment, emphasizing matching program and treatment plans to meet the

unique reoffending risks and risk factors (i.e., criminogenic needs) of offenders through evidence-

based rehabilitative programs that are tailored to an individual’s strengths and capacities (Andrews

& Bonta, 2010; Andrews, Bonta, & Hoge, 1990; Hoge & Andrews, 1996). Rather than general

mental health (GMH) care, the RNR model is focused on reducing future delinquency and recidi-

vism but has been criticized for not addressing more basic, noncriminogenic, human needs, such as

mental health (T. Ward & Stewart, 2003; T. Ward, Yates, & Willis, 2012). Additionally, treating

mental health and substance abuse disorders may or may not address other criminogenic risk factors

and prevent future delinquency (see Wibbelink, Hoeve, Stams, & Oort, 2017) but may have impli-

cations for youths’ responsiveness to treatment goals and success in addressing criminogenic needs

(Haqanee et al., 2015). Nevertheless, programs that adhere to the principles of RNR have been

successful in reducing recidivism (Andrews & Bonta, 2010).

One of the primary RNR assessment tools, the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inven-

tory (YLS/CMI), has been validated for its ability to predict recidivism among youth (Catchpole &

Gretton, 2003; Jung & Rawana, 1999; Onifade et al., 2008; Vieira, Skilling, & Peterson-Badali,

2009). However, agencies and practitioners face many challenges to develop clear treatment plans

and effectively implement services despite identifying risks and needs through assessment (Flores,

Travis, & Latessa, 2004; Latessa, Cullen, & Gendreau, 2002; Sutherland, 2009), resulting in many

youths’ needs left unaddressed (Vieira et al., 2009). This “implementation gap” is often the result in

the availability of quality, evidence-based programming, such as cognitive behavioral therapy

(Haqanee et al., 2015). For example, Flores, Travis, and Latessa (2004) found in one state jurisdic-

tion that the RNR tool (YLS/CMI) was widely used, but when it came to services in the treatment

plans, they rarely targeted the needs identified in the assessment. In sum, there have been great

strides in recognizing and measuring criminogenic risks and needs that when addressed can improve

outcomes for youth. Mental illness, however, is often not considered one of those criminogenic

needs (Haqanee et al., 2015), so practitioners may continue to use their clinical judgment and

experience over the use of risk assessment tools (C. Schwalbe, 2004), and services received may

not target the needs/risks identified.

Funding Treatment Services

While the juvenile justice system has a legal mandate to provide treatment services, it does not have

to be the one to administer that care (Grisso, 2004). When a youth is required to receive court-

ordered treatment services as a condition of probation supervision, there are multiple avenues or

sources of funding that can pay for these services. If the youth has no means (i.e., health insurance)

to pay for treatment services ordered by the court, the juvenile justice system has a financial

responsibility to fund the treatment services it is requiring.

The juvenile justice system has used outside agencies and external funds to reduce the burden of

providing treatment services—they typically contract out to private providers or other government

White 65

agencies such as public mental health service providers. Similarly, the treatment services can be

funded through different sources such as private insurance or public health care, but if those avenues

are not available, the juvenile justice system is responsible to fund the treatment services. Families

of youth in the juvenile justice system often have limited knowledge and resources to navigate the

health-care system; therefore, youth often are more likely to be uninsured and their mental and

behavioral conditions are not addressed. Furthermore, services provided through Medicaid are often

restricted to children with the most severe mental disorders due to lack of funding (Kerker & Dore,

2006). As a result, children with less serious problems are often ineligible for services and those who

do qualify receive inconsistent and fragmented care. Finally, studies have found that lack of health

insurance is a major impediment to obtaining mental and behavioral health services (Farmer, Stangl,

Burns, Costello, & Angold, 1999; Flisher et al., 1997; Kataoka et al., 2002).

In light of the health-care debate, the current research also speaks to the issue of funding and

resources for mental health care and substance use disorder services that are often subject to social,

political, and economic influence. The coverage for mental health and substance use disorders by

insurance companies and the availability and eligibility of Medicaid will likely have implications for

practices in the juvenile justice system and the extent to which treatment services are court-funded.

If youth have alternative sources to pay for treatment services, such as private insurance or Med-

icaid, the juvenile justice system will be relieved of that responsibility. While the current research

does not empirically evaluate health-care reform on funding treatment services in the juvenile justice

system, findings should be considered in the context of these broader changes.

The funding of treatment services in the juvenile justice system has not been examined as a key

variable of interest. While the source of funding for treatment services is often determined by the

youth’s health care coverage, the court also considers the need for services, prioritizing those with

greatest need. However, as was demonstrated with literature on unmet service needs, need does

not necessarily result in the expected outcomes (i.e., services). Following this line of thought,

there may be other factors that could influence the court’s decision to fund treatment services.

Furthermore, the quality of services and degree of investment the court has when it is funding the

treatment services may differ, which may have implications for the future delinquent behavior and

overall health of the youth.

Current Focus

Building on previous research on service needs and use among youth with mental and behavioral

problems, this research examined treatment services received by youth involved in the Maricopa

County Juvenile Probation Department (MCJPD). The court serves youth by requiring treatment

services for mental and behavioral problems but providing resources to pay for treatment services

adds an additional level of intervention and investment in these youth’s lives. The current research

examined characteristics of youth who received treatment services as well as funding sources for

services. More specifically, two research questions are examined:

Research Question 1: What are the predictors (e.g., gender, race, delinquent background,

etc.) associated with receiving treatment services under probation supervision?

Research Question 2: Among youth receiving treatment services, what are the predictors

associated with the source of funding for treatment services; specifically, what are the pre-

dictors of receiving treatment services via external funding sources relative to court-based


Research on mental and behavioral service needs and service referrals has generally focused on

treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, but youth can have other service needs. The

66 Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 17(1)

current research is not restricted to mental health and substance use treatment services and is

more inclusive of other treatment services provided by the juvenile justice system, such as

behavior-specific education, mentoring programs, and evidence-based programs. Based on previous

research, we expect race/ethnicity to be a strong predictor of service use as well as prior history of

mental health problems and involvement in the juvenile justice system.

This research will also shed light on which types of services are typically funded by the court. The

ever-changing financial climate and the health-care debate provide a broader context that can help

inform the importance of understanding the sources of funding for treatment services. There is

growing concern for addressing service needs, particularly for mental health and substance use

disorders, but with limited resources, the funding sources of treatment services deserves empirical

attention. Given the limited attention on the issue of funding, this question is more exploratory in

nature. The implications of this research will help to inform broader issues of the juvenile justice

system’s obligation to provide treatment.


Data and Sample

The MCJPD and the Treatment Services Division were sources for data regarding youth receiving

treatment services. The time frame for the data spanned a 25-month period beginning July 1, 2012, to

August 31, 2014, during which a total of 4,244 youth were placed on probation, 60 of whom had

multiple probations during the time frame.

The data were compiled onsite with the assistance from

the Research and Planning Division of the MCJPD. A data sharing agreement was obtained with

institutional review board approval to receive deidentified youth information through electronic

databases. With the exception of certain files, such as psychological case notes,

MCJPD uses the

integrated court information system to manage youths’ records, and Microsoft

Access was used to

query databases associated with youth who were placed under probation supervision during the

specified time frame.

For purposes of this analysis, the unit of analysis was the individual youth. Eight different databases

were used to measure the legal and extralegal characteristics of the youth and their case. The databases

were cleaned as separate files and merged based on each youth’s unique identifier. The data required

recoding variables and MCJPD advised to ensure the recoded variables accurately measured the

correct information. For example, the complaint data set contained all referrals (or complaints) the

youth has received in Maricopa County. The unit of analysis in this data set was referrals, and there

were 17,784 referrals for the 4,244 youth analyzed in the current research. This data set, in particular,

took an extensive amount of cleaning and management because it was used to (1) identify which

referral was associated with the disposition that placed the youth on probation and the severity of that

offense, and (2) determine the number of referrals and adjudications that occurred before the current

probation to measure prior offending behavior.

The final sample of youths on probation was 3,779 after those with short probation periods (less

than 10 days) and cases with missing data were removed.

Descriptive statistics of the sample of

youth are presented in Table 1. Similar to other research on juvenile justice populations, a majority

of the sample was male (81.2%), roughly 37% of the sample were White, 15% Black, and 41%
Hispanic, and the mean age was 16.1 years old. A majority of the youth came from single parent

living situations (60.8%) and a quarter were not enrolled in school. In regard to the youths’ offense
and juvenile justice history, property felonies were the most common (25.1%), followed by personal
felonies (19.1%), 40.5% were detained prior to adjudication, 67.1% had a prior referral, and 12.9%
had a prior adjudication. Additionally, 37.5% of youth received a psychological evaluation

White 67

associated with the current offense, 18.3% had prior treatment services, and in regard to risk level,
20.4% were low, 24.6% were moderate, and 55% were high risk.

The current research focused on youth who received treatment services in the community and

residential facilities while on probation, thus services received while on diversion will not be

examined, but will be captured as prior services. In 2012, MCJPD began the Service Authorization

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics of Dependent and Independent Variables.


Youth on Probation (N ¼ 3,779)

% n

Outcome variables
Receiving treatment services 25.0 944
Funding source (n ¼ 861)

Court-based 72.2 622
External 27.8 239

Independent variables

Female (reference) 18.8 712
Male 81.2 3,067

White (reference) 37.4 1,414
Black 15.3 580
Latino 41.4 1,564
Native American 4.3 161
Other 1.6 60

Age (mean) 16.1 (1.3) 3,779
Living situation

Single parent (reference) 60.8 2,299
Two parents 19.6 741
Grandparents or other relatives 8.3 313
DCS and other 11.3 198

School status
Enrolled (reference) 75.1 2,839
Not enrolled 24.9 940

Offense severity
Property felony (reference) 25.1 948
Personal felony 19.1 720
Property misdemeanor 12.6 477
Personal misdemeanor 8.0 304
Drugs 18.8 710
Public peace 14.8 559
Other 1.6 61

Preadjudication detention 40.5 1,530
Prior referral 67.1 2,537
Prior adjudication 12.9 486
Psychological evaluation 37.5 1,416
Prior treatment services 18.3 692
Risk level

Low (reference) 20.4 770
Moderate 24.6 929
High 55.0 2,080

Note. DCS ¼ Department of Child Services.

68 Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 17(1)

Form Automation Project to electronically track the treatment services ordered by the court and

progress of youth receiving services as part of their probation. Based on the recommendation by

Research and Planning Division, services that started 90 days prior to the start of probation will also

be considered prior services. Treatment services evaluated in the current study include GMH

services, sex offender services, substance abuse services, mentoring or life skills programs,

behavior-specific education, evidence-based programs, and drug court services.

Treatment services

that are not included in the current research include mandatory drug testing, detention alternative

programs, physical health services such as acute care or hospitalization, polygraph examinations,

and assessments. These services were not included because they are not therapeutic in nature and

generally not used to address mental and behavioral service needs. Among the 3,779 youth on

probation included in the analysis, 944 (25%) received the services of interest.


There are a number of legal and extralegal factors that have been examined in relation to various

outcomes in the juvenile justice system and whether youth end up in mental health system versus

juvenile justice system (Cohen et al., 1990; Evens & Stoep, 1997; Lyons, Baerger, Quigley, Erlich,

& Griffin, 2001; Thomas & Stubbe, 1996). The current study focused on the referral that placed the

youth on the current probation and treatment services, but characteristics of prior behavior are

captured. The independent variables that were used in the analyses include gender, race, ethnicity,

age, living situation, school status, offense severity, preadjudication detention, prior referrals, prior

adjudications, whether the youth received a psychological evaluation, prior treatment service use,

and risk assessment level.

Gender was coded as 1 for males and 0 for females, and race and ethnicity are measured by

several dummy variables: Blacks, Latino/Latina, and other race/ethnicity, with White as the refer-

ence category. Age is measured as the age of the youth at the time of the referral that received a

disposition of treatment services and is measured continuously. The living situation of the youth

captured who the youth lived with when they were placed on probation. The categories included

single parent, two parents, grandparents or other relative, and Department of Child Safety or other,

with single parent serving as the reference category. School status was measured on the basis of

whether or not the youth was enrolled in school during the time of the current referral. Offense

severity captured the most severe offense associated with the referral. Consistent with sentencing

research on juveniles, if the youth was charged with multiple offenses, the most serious offense was

measured. There are seven categories of offense severity—property felony, personal felony, prop-

erty misdemeanor, personal misdemeanor, drugs, public peace, and other offenses that included

obstructions of justice and status offenses. Property felony serves as the reference category because

it had the highest frequency. Preadjudication detention captured whether the youth was detained

prior to adjudication for the current offense and probation. Prior referrals and prior adjudications

are measured dichotomously, with “yes/no” outcomes. Prior service use was also a binary variable,

measuring whether the youth has received treatment services through the court from either diversion

or prior probations.

Every youth who reaches adjudication and disposition is considered for a psychological evalua-

tion, but these are predominately conducted only when there is a history of mental illness and service

need, and the court would benefit from clinical assistance. Therefore, having a psychological

assessment is a strong proxy for history of mental health problems …

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Prevention and

Toby Talbot/Associated Press

Learning Objectives

After studying this chapter, you should be able to
accomplish the following objectives:

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In 1988, 7,000 youth were waived to adult court for criminal proceedings. In 1992, that number hit nearly
12,000 youth. The increase in waivers to adult court occurred in the context of the decade-long movement to
get tough on crime. This get-tough movement was characterized by an increased use of punishment with the
purpose of deterring crime. In real terms, these punitive measures included an increased reliance on
incarceration for juveniles, a policy shift to allow younger juveniles to be transferred to adult court for a
broader range of offenses, and the increased use of tougher sanctions in the community such as boot camps.

The get-tough movement was politically popular for years. As discussed in Chapter 2, the tough-on-crime
agenda was popular among both political parties. For example, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which led to
mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, was passed while Ronald Reagan was president. But
equally punitive “three strikes and you’re out” laws were passed in many states during Bill Clinton’s

Fast-forward to more recent times, and the stories sound more like this: “When Harry Coates campaigned for
the Oklahoma State Senate in 2002, he had one approach to crime: ‘Lock ’em up and throw away the key.’
Now Coates is looking for that key” (Murphy, 2011). News stories throughout the country are documenting
the resulting effects of the get-tough movement on state budgets. States are faced with enormous budget
shortfalls that place criminal justice expenditures in the crosshairs. Many states have repealed their
mandatory sentencing policies for drug use and revised their three-strikes policies. For the first time in many

Describe the philosophical shift that has occurred

in reducing juvenile delinquency.

Summarize the importance of prevention and


Explain the principles of effective intervention.

Explain how need factors contribute to risk for

delinquent behavior.

Describe each generation of risk and need

assessment tools.

Explain the significance of responsivity factors

with regard to treatment.

Summarize the philosophy behind cognitive

behavioral programs.

Analyze the model treatment programs and why

they work.

Explain the importance of relapse prevention


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decades, states are reducing prison populations and relying more on community-based alternatives for
punishing offenders. Although economic conditions may be a primary catalyst for this shift, studies also
support treatment and prevention efforts as a cost-effective way to maintain public safety.

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10.1 Introduction

Juvenile justice policy tends to change (sometimes dramatically) over time. Rehabilitation as a guiding
philosophy of the juvenile justice system fell out of favor by the late 1970s. At that time, psychologist Robert
Martinson (1974) examined whether youth who received treatment services had lower recidivism rates. He
found that receiving treatment did not lead to significant reductions in crime. This finding led him to proclaim
that “nothing works” when it came to treatment. At the same time, the public was very concerned about the
rise in juvenile drug use and violent crime. Concerned as well, lawmakers began to suggest that the juvenile
justice system was too soft on crime and advocated for harsher punishments (Baird & Samuels, 1996).

Nearly 25 years later, the juvenile justice system is in the midst of another philosophical shift. This time the
shift is back toward rehabilitation. Why is the system moving back to what it once abandoned? Just like
before, there are a variety of reasons. As mentioned in the opening story, the first reason is fiscal. In the 1980s
and 1990s, states were willing to spend money to crack down on crime and send a message to would-be
offenders. However, as illustrated in the accompanying Spotlight feature on criminal justice reforms taking
place in Utah, many states are rethinking some of the earlier get-tough strategies (Scott-Hayward, 2009).

Spotlight: Criminal Justice Reforms: Utah

According to the Pew Center on the States (2009), corrections ranks as the second highest expenditure
in the United States. With over 7 million adults under some form of correctional supervision, 1 in
every 15 state general fund dollars is now spent on corrections. Between 1982 and 2002, the budget
for corrections increased 255%. As a result, many states are in a financial crisis and can no longer
afford to incarcerate people at the same rate.

Utah is one state that felt this crisis. In 2013, the state spent $269 million on corrections. Moreover,
many of those on parole were failing at a higher rate than 10 years ago. State policymakers decided
that something had to be done to reduce costs and failure rates. In 2015, the Utah Commission on
Criminal and Juvenile Justice developed policy options that were based on data-driven solutions to
increase public safety while simultaneously reducing the prison population. The legislation was aimed
at reducing the incarceration of drug offenders, increasing community-based alternatives, and
improving and expanding reentry services. According to the Utah governor, “[T]his package will
enhance public safety and put the brakes on the revolving prison door. H.B. 348 will establish better
treatment resources and alternatives for nonviolent offenders, ensuring our citizens get the best
possible return on their tax dollars” (Pew, 2015, para. 6).

Many states are favoring lower-cost, community-based options like drug treatment and enhanced
community supervision to reach better outcomes with both their adult and juvenile populations. For
more on reforms in Utah and other states, see
( and podcast-the-story-behind-
the-drop-in-us-incarceration (
analysis/articles/2017/04/podcast-the-story-behind-the-drop-in-us-incarceration) .

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The shift back toward rehabilitation is also being driven by studies supporting its use. Since Martinson’s
“nothing works” statement, multiple studies have found that treatment services can reduce criminal behavior
among juvenile offenders by as much as 30–35% (Aos, Phipps, Barnoski, & Lieb, 2000; Bonta & Andrews,
2007). In addition, Mark Lipsey (2009) examined what types of programs worked better than others. He
argued that structured, intensive services focused on the youth’s problems were much more effective than
other programs in reducing recidivism. His research also found that services delivered in institutions (youth
prisons) tended to be less effective than those in the community. Finally, Lipsey noted that there were in fact
some programs that did not work. As a result, he and others began to argue that Martinson’s claim of “nothing
works” should have been that not all programs work. In other words, some programs are more effective than

We can see evidence of this shift toward rehabilitation in state and federal policy. One noteworthy example is
in RECLAIM Ohio, a program designed to reduce the use of state juvenile prison beds by encouraging
counties to provide services to youth in their own communities. For every youth who could have been sent to
a juvenile institution but was instead kept in the community, the state of Ohio would give money to the
community. The state encouraged counties to use the money to develop and pay for rehabilitation programs.
The initiative has been successful at reducing recidivism rates and is considered a more cost-effective option
than prison (Latessa, Turner, Moon, & Applegate, 1998).

Another example of a rehabilitation-based policy is the passage of the Second Chance Act in 2007. This
federal initiative applies to both adults and juveniles and is designed to provide services to those reentering
the community. Services include aftercare programs for inmates who completed an inpatient mental health
and/or substance abuse program and family-based services that focus on comprehensive treatment for the
entire family. The initiative also includes a mentoring program that pairs juveniles with a mentor while they
are incarcerated. That mentor continues to work with the juvenile as he or she transitions back into the
community and provides mentoring and support for several months after the juvenile’s release. The reentry
phase back into the community is often a difficult one for youth, and this initiative is designed to provide an
added safety net. The Second Chance Act is part of a larger reentry treatment movement. For more
information, see
( .

A third policy initiative that has gained popularity is the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). Launched in
2006, the JRI is based on the premise that we can reinvest criminal justice dollars into what has been shown
to work in reducing recidivism. The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Pew Center on the States have
provided resources and tools to states to guide them through a four-step process to increase the effectiveness
of their criminal justice systems. The four-stage process includes (a) analyzing data to understand factors
driving jail and prison population growth; (b) developing and implementing policy options to generate
savings and increase public safety; (c) reinvesting in select, high-risk communities and measuring the impact
of policy changes and reinvestment resources; and (d) enhancing the accountability of criminal justice system
actors and policies.

Each of these policy initiatives uses evidence-based strategies to effectively treat and prevent crime.

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10.2 What Is Treatment and Prevention?

What exactly is treatment for juveniles? Treatment refers to a set of actions or services designed to
rehabilitate or change an individual. Treatment for juvenile offenders can include a range of activities such as
group therapy, individual sessions, school-based interventions, and/or community mentoring programs.
Treatment services can occur in homes, prisons, or schools, or in various agencies in the community.
Treatment services can also act as prevention programs. Prevention programs are designed to avert a situation
or prevent one from worsening. For example, teaching juveniles the importance of avoiding drugs and
alcohol is intended to prevent youth from experimenting with them. However, prevention strategies may also
be implemented after a youth has committed a crime in an effort to reduce the youth’s likelihood of
committing another crime or a worse crime. For example, teaching youth about the consequences of drug use
could be beneficial to those who may have already experimented with drugs. In this case, the program’s goal
would be to stop the youth’s use from escalating. In this context, prevention can be both proactive and

Prevention programs are often categorized into three levels based on who or what is being targeted. For
example, the first level attempts to prevent delinquency from occurring at all, the second level attempts to
intervene early in the youth’s involvement in delinquency, and the third level attempts to stop the youth from
escalating in his or her delinquent career. The three prevention levels are labeled primary prevention,
secondary prevention, and tertiary prevention. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

Primary prevention programs focus on the conditions that could lead to delinquent behavior such as
truancy, poor parenting, and prenatal exposure to toxins. These types of approaches target at-risk juveniles
and may include after-school programs to keep youth busy or a truancy reduction program to keep youth in
school. Another example might include wellness campaigns around prenatal care for mothers. The prenatal
care would include educating new mothers on the dangers of smoking, drinking, or using drugs during
pregnancy. These types of programs act as barriers to protect against or prevent delinquency.

Secondary prevention programs shift the focus of services to the delinquent youth and address the
delinquent behavior at its earliest stages. By intervening early with youth, these programs attempt to slow or
stop their potential progression into crime. These types of programs may include diversion programs and
mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. A big brother or sister can help the youth get back on
the right track by providing support and encouragement to stay in school and avoid drugs and alcohol.

The third level, tertiary prevention, is focused on reducing recidivism among those who are already in the
juvenile justice system. In that sense, these programs are more reactive approaches. The prevention efforts
focus on limiting the problems and issues faced by the youth. Treatment programs for anger management,
addictions, family functioning, and relapse prevention are examples of services designed for youth who have
a high probability of continuing their delinquent behavior.

As the preceding discussion illustrates, there are various treatment and prevention programs for juveniles.
One potential problem facing the juvenile justice system is figuring out which program, policy, or strategy to
choose. Not all programs are created equal, and it is difficult to decide who needs what services and for how
long. Researchers have found that some programs are more effective than others, but questions still remain.
For example, does every juvenile who has been arrested need treatment? Should all juveniles receive the
same treatment services? Should all juveniles participate in prevention programs, and if so, where? Are the
services worth the taxpayer costs? Should we mandate prevention for school-aged children or for their

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Small Successes

Small successes achieved while incarcerated builds youth’s

1. Why is it important to celebrate successes?
2. What kinds of interventions would you recommend

for girls who are pregnant while institutionalized?

10.3 Evidence-Based Treatment: The Principles of Effective Intervention

When it comes to rehabilitation, no
one-size-fits-all approach is likely to
solve every problem facing juveniles.
The challenge to rehabilitate juvenile
delinquents can be daunting if we
consider all the different problems
they could be facing: poverty, failing
schools, family conflict, addictions to
drugs or alcohol. We do know,
however, that some approaches seem
to work better than others. As a result,
for the past few decades, juvenile
justice treatment reforms have shifted
to what is commonly referred to as a
“what works” or “best practices”

Juvenile justice agencies and treatment
programs are often required to show
that they are using strategies or
programs that have been proven to be
effective with juveniles. The reason
for this is twofold: (a) funding
agencies need to make sure they are
getting the most for their money, and
(b) studies have found that if programs
follow certain principles or strategies
they are more likely to see reductions
in recidivism (Manchak & Cullen,
2015). For example, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has embarked on a “what works” initiative
that is a comprehensive program improvement project to increase the effectiveness of juvenile justice
services throughout the state. The department is attempting to incorporate only empirically supported
treatment models and techniques. In particular, the state requires thorough training and pilot testing of
curricula and assessment instruments (Chapman, 2005).

In an effort to identify strategies that were effective in reducing recidivism, researcher Paul Gendreau (1996)
developed the principles of effective intervention. These principles are recommended strategies and
practices that characterize effective programs. The principles are based on his experiences working with
offenders in prison and on research by others in the field. On the surface, these principles are not
groundbreaking. However, they were considered fairly radical for a field that was entrenched in the get-tough
movement that focused primarily on increased use of punishment. The following is a list of the core

Match treatment services to the offender’s risks and needs.

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In this 2007 photo, supporters of Martin Lee
Anderson, foreground, listen at the trial of eight
former boot camp employees from the Bay
County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office. The former
guards and nurse were on trial for Anderson’s

Terry Barner/Associated Press

Use treatment models that are behavioral and cognitive behavioral in nature.
Develop a range of rewards and consequences for behavior.
Provide relapse prevention strategies.

Gendreau also identified programs that did not work.
Many of the programs that he identified as ineffective
were deterrence-based programs commonly used during
the get-tough movement. Deterrence-based programs use
severe punishments with the goal of scaring youth from
coming back into the system. In other words, the hope
was that youth would avoid crime in the future in order to
avoid a punitive sanction. Popular deterrence-based
programs used during this time included chain gangs,
boot camps, and Scared Straight programs. Research
found that youth who went through these types of
programs still had high recidivism rates (Wilson &
Lipsey, 2000). Further, as seen in the accompanying
Spotlight feature, boot camps had even greater problems,
as several youth died while participating. In general, it
was argued that these strategies were not effective
because they did little to identify the causes of crime or to
teach youth how to act differently once released back into
their communities.

Spotlight: Boot Camps: What Went Wrong?

Martin Lee Anderson was a Florida teenager sentenced to the Bay County juvenile boot camp for
trespassing. He died on January 6, 2006, after guards repeatedly beat him while restrained. Anthony
Hayes, a 14-year-old from Arizona, was sent to a boot camp for a charge of shoplifting. He died July
2001 after being required to spend several hours standing outside in 112-degree heat. Gina Score, a
14-year-old South Dakota girl sent to a boot camp for shoplifting, died of heatstroke when she
collapsed after a run and lay unattended for three hours. In every case, staff members were charged in
connection with the deaths. What is most-striking is that in each case staff members were accused of
either using excessive force or failing to attend to the youth while they were in a medical crisis.

Developed for juvenile offenders in the early 1980s, the boot camp model was popular politically.
Modeled after the military, boot camps for juvenile offenders were designed to use rigorous,
physically demanding activities to develop discipline and respect for authority. Boot camps typically
employed staff who would act as drill sergeants teaching the youth the benefits of working hard, not
quitting an activity, and showing deference to adults. The idea was that the boot camp would break
the youth down in an effort to change their destructive and disrespectful behavior. The public and
policymakers liked the idea of tough love, and by 1995 most states were operating boot camps.

Although some boot camps still exist, most were eventually closed. Many of the closures came after

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the deaths and stories of abuse, which were widely publicized by the media. However, their closure
was also due to the growing number of findings that, with a few exceptions, boot camps were not
effective in reducing recidivism (Parent, 2003).

Various reasons have been offered as to why boot camps were unable to achieve their stated goals.
First, some argued that boot camps did not focus on the issues that brought the youth to the camp. By
relying only on coercive physical punishment, the camps failed to address key issues facing youth
within their families, schools, and communities. This is also one of the reasons wilderness type
programs (covered in Chapter 8) lacked effectiveness. Second, in the traditional military model,
participants are sent to military training after they complete the boot camp. As part of their training
they are given housing, meals, and support. Juvenile boot camp participants were simply sent home to
the same environment after they completed their boot camp training. Finally, some argued that teens
felt boot camps were inherently unfair and cruel and reported feeling defiance and anger toward
guards. Ironically, this hostility toward authority was exactly what the boot camp guards were trying
to eradicate (Robinson, 2001).

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10.4 Risk and Need Factors

Youth are considered “at risk” for delinquency if they are exposed to certain environments or have certain
personal traits. These high-risk environments can exist in youth’s communities, schools, and families. These
environments and traits are often referred to as criminogenic needs. Criminogenic needs are known
correlates of delinquency and include associating with high-risk peers, experiencing family dysfunction,
substance use, impulsivity, and poor school achievement (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). The more criminogenic
needs the person has, the greater risk the person has for delinquency. The criminal justice system uses the
word risk to refer to the probability that someone will recidivate. A high-risk person has a high probability of
delinquency in the future. Take the example of associating with delinquent peers. This puts a youth at risk for
delinquency because our close friends have a big impact on our behavior in terms of the modeling they
provide as well as peer pressure. Fortunately, once these needs are identified, criminal justice practitioners
can intervene to reduce them (e.g., creating opportunities for youth to associate with positive peers).

Let’s think about this using a medical example: When a doctor is visited by a patient who is concerned about
the potential for heart disease, the doctor will discuss risk factors for the disease. Those risk factors include
gender, age, family history, cholesterol level, weight, whether the person smokes, physical activity, and so on.
An older male with a history of heart disease in his family, who has high cholesterol, gets limited physical
activity, is overweight, and smokes is at a higher risk for heart disease. Risk factors for delinquency work the
same way. The risk factors for delinquency were not picked at random. Research studies have established that
these factors are correlated with crime (Andrews & Bonta, 2010).

The more risks or problems individuals experience, the more likely they are to engage in criminal behavior.
Not everyone has the same number of risk factors. For some, school achievement may be the only problem
area and otherwise they are doing well. In that circumstance, a probation officer may conclude that the
juvenile is at low risk for future criminal behavior. In contrast, a youth who is having difficulty in school
and/or with his or her parents, who is addicted to drugs, and who chooses to associate with other delinquent
peers is at a higher risk of delinquency. Determining which factors are important for each person requires that
the probation officer conduct a risk assessment. The assessment of risk is typically based on a classification

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Probation officers evaluate the personalities and
lifestyles of juveniles in hopes of assessing the
risks of criminal behavior.

Bill Haber/Associated Press

10.5 Classification and Assessment

Classifying juveniles into groups is a common practice in
the criminal justice system. Juveniles are grouped based
on characteristics such as age, gender, suicide risk,
addiction severity, and so on. In general, an assessment
is a tool that evaluates how likely a youth might be to
engage in criminal behavior. An assessment of a youth’s
risk for criminal behavior may include an evaluation of
his or her needs (e.g., peers, personality, and lifestyle
factors). Assessing a youth’s risk for future criminal
behavior often uses what is referred to as a risk and need
assessment tool.

Before we discuss some of the more popular risk and
need assessment tools, it is important to understand the
history behind assessment for juveniles. The history of
assessment is often discussed in the context of
generations or phases (Andrews, Bonta, & Wormith,

First-Generation Assessment Tools

First-generation assessment tools are not actually tools but are unstructured “gut-level” assessments of an
individual’s risks and needs. An example of this type of assessment would be a meeting that might happen
between a probation officer and his or her client. The interaction might sound something like this:

Probation Officer (P.O.): Why do you think you got into trouble this time?

Client: I keep hanging around with this buddy of mine, and we always just seem to get into trouble.

P.O.: Don’t you think you should stop hanging around with this friend of yours?

Client: Yeah, I will see what I can do. I don’t know, though, we are pretty tight.

P.O.: Are you in school?

Client: I try to go when I can.

P.O.: You are going to have to go to school to do well on supervision.

Client: OK. I will see what I can do.

P.O.: OK. I will see you next time, and I expect to hear that you have been attending school.

Based on this abbreviated interaction, the probation officer might assign a risk level to the youth. The
probation officer might conclude that the youth is at moderate risk for future criminal behavior because the
youth is associating with other delinquents and is truant from school. But this “assessment” of risk will be
based on the probation officer’s intuition or gut-level reasoning about the youth’s probability for future

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criminal behavior. The assessment is not guided by an actual paper-and-pencil assessment tool. The
disadvantage of this approach is that gut-level intuition or unguided clinical judgment tends to be inaccurate
and provides an incomplete picture of the important risk factors for delinquency (Grove, Zald, Lebow, Snitz,
& Nelson, 2000). First-generation assessments are often inaccurate due to bias. For example, let’s assume for
a moment that a probation officer believes that most juvenile delinquents get into trouble because they have
parents who do a poor job with discipline. When that same probation officer interviews a youth, the probation
officer would likely spend more time questioning the youth about family interactions and discipline styles
than other risk factors (e.g., looking at the youth’s peers). It is natural for people to bring personal biases into
their interactions with others; however, these biases can lead some people to overlook certain aspects of a
youth’s life that might be important.

Second-Generation Assessment Tools

Second-generation assessment tools are structured questionnaires that guide the interview process. The tools
also assign a value to each risk factor. For example, a youth with a violent prior record would receive more
points …

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