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Research Question

  1. In fiscal year 2013–2014, how successful were Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act programs and initiatives, as measured by the six state-mandated outcome measures and county-mandated supplemental measures?

California's Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act was designed to provide a stable funding source for juvenile programs that have proven effective in curbing crime among at-risk and young offenders. It provides funds to counties to add evidence-based programs and services for juvenile probationers identified with higher needs for special services than those identified for routine probationers, at-risk youth who have not entered the probation system but who live or attend school in areas of high crime or who have other factors that potentially predispose them to criminal activities, and youth in juvenile halls and camps. The California state legislature requires the Board of State and Community Corrections to submit annual reports measuring the program's success for six outcome measures: (1) successful completion of probation, (2) arrests, (3) probation violations, (4) incarcerations, (5) successful completion of restitution, and (6) successful completion of community service. Each county can also measure supplemental outcomes. For the six state-mandated outcomes, differences between program participants and comparison-group youth are mostly positive, though relatively small. County-developed supplemental outcomes, which measure performance of program participants at program entry and again at a later time, tend to be more favorable.

Key Findings

Overall, Program Participants Showed More Positive Outcomes Than Comparison-Group Youths Did

  • In programs that used historical comparison groups, only a few big six outcomes differed significantly between the two cohorts.
  • Most programs that used contemporaneous comparison groups were small and showed no significant differences between program participants and comparison-group youths. School-Based Probation Supervision for High School Probationers participants showed more positive outcomes for four of the big six outcomes and insignificant differences on the other two.
  • Programs that used pre–post evaluation designs targeted mostly at-risk youths, who showed no significant differences between pre and post measurement periods.
  • Results within any given program showed very small year-to-year differences in outcomes for the years that RAND has been evaluating these programs for Los Angeles County.

Program Participants in Each of the Three Initiatives Performed Better Than Comparison-Group Youths in One or More Outcomes

  • Arrest rates were significantly lower, and rates of probation completion higher, for program participants in the Enhanced Mental Health Services initiative than for comparison-group youths.
  • Program participants in the Enhanced Services to High-Risk/High-Need Youth initiative had significantly lower rates of arrest than comparison-group youths did.
  • Participants in the Enhanced School- and Community-Based Services initiative had significantly better outcomes than the baseline period or comparison group on all of the big six outcomes except probation violations.

For Most Programs, Administrative Costs Contributed Most to Total Juvenile Justice Cost

  • Several programs did produce average savings in several important outcomes.

Recommendation

  • Probation should increase the amount of data available for supplemental outcomes for all programs.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background and Methodology

  • Chapter Two

    Current JJCPA Programs and FY 2013–2014 Outcome Measures

  • Chapter Three

    Estimated Juvenile Justice Costs for JJCPA Participants

  • Chapter Four

    Summary and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Community Providers of JJCPA Program Services

  • Appendix B

    Comparison Groups and Reference Periods for JJCPA Programs

  • Appendix C

    Probation's Ranking of the Big Six Outcome Measures

  • Appendix D

    Community-Based Organizations That Contracted to Provide Services for JJCPA Programs in FY 2013–2014

  • Appendix E

    Board of State and Community Corrections–Mandated and Supplemental Outcomes for Individual JJCPA Programs, FY 2013–2014

  • Appendix F

    Board of State and Community Corrections–Mandated Outcomes, by Gender

  • Appendix G

    Board of State and Community Corrections–Mandated Outcomes, by Cluster

  • Appendix H

    Probation's Form for Assessing Probationer Strengths and Risks

  • Appendix I

    Probation's Form for Assessing Goal-Setting and Life Planning for At-Risk Youth

The research reported here was conducted in the RAND Safety and Justice Program, a part of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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