Substance use disorders are common among juvenile justice populations, and few resources exist to address this problem as young offenders are transitioning into the community after being released. In order to address this need, in October 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), awarded three-year grants to community-based organizations to expand and/or enhance substance abuse treatment and related recovery and reentry services to sentenced offenders returning to the community from incarceration. Homeboy Industries, Inc. in collaboration with Behavioral Health Services, Inc., and the RAND Corporation were awarded a grant to serve up to 220 16- to 25-year-olds who were recently released from juvenile detention to receive substance use treatment and recovery services at Homeboy Industries located in downtown Los Angeles. This study represents the evaluation of that program, entitled the “Substance Use Treatment and Reentry” (STAR) Program.
The results from the evaluation demonstrate the need to address substance use and the success in delivering the proposed treatment to the target population. Ninety-four percent of the proposed population (i.e., 207 out of the 220 targeted) was enrolled into the program. Ninety percent of participants received at least one substance use treatment session and 73 percent successfully completed the five-session treatment by six months. An analysis of the client outcome data following participation in the program demonstrated fairly positive improvements or stability over time in housing and social connectedness. Over 70 percent of participants who completed a 12-month interview reported still being employed, and self-reported arrests were less than 15 percent. Abstinence rates did not change much throughout the project (about 30 percent); however, those reporting use at intake showed reductions in use over time.
In sum, these findings reveal a continued need among the population for substance use treatment and recovery support.
The research described in this article was sponsored by Homeboy Industries and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and was conducted in the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.