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Research Question

  1. In fiscal year 2014–2015, 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 youths 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 youths in juvenile halls and camps. The California state legislature requires the Board of State and Community Corrections to submit annual reports evaluating the program on 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. The report also compares juvenile justice system costs for program youths in the six months before they entered a program and in the six months after entering the program. For the six state-mandated outcomes, differences between program participants and comparison-group youths are mostly positive, though relatively small. County-developed supplemental outcomes, which measure performance of program participants at program entry and again later, are more favorable.

Key Findings

Program Participants Are Generally Meeting Program Goals

  • Overall, for legislatively mandated big six and supplementary outcomes, program participants showed more-positive outcomes than comparison-group youths.
  • High school probationers under school-based probation supervision showed more-positive outcomes for four of the big six outcomes, while comparison-group youths had significantly fewer probation violations. Middle school probationers under school-based probation supervision had significantly higher rates of completion of probation and completion of community service, but comparison-group youths had significantly fewer violations of probation.
  • Incarceration rates were significantly lower for program participants in the Enhanced Mental Health Services initiative than for comparison-group youths. Participants in the Enhanced School- and Community-Based Services initiative had significantly better outcomes than the baseline period or comparison group for completion of probation, completion of restitution, and completion of community service. Comparison-group youths in this initiative showed significantly fewer violations of probation.
  • Several programs did produce average savings in several important outcomes, including the cost of arrests, court appearances, juvenile hall stays, and, to a lesser degree, time spent in camp.

Recommendation

  • Probation should increase the amount and quality of data available for all programs to permit more evaluation and research.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background and Methodology

  • Chapter Two

    Current JJCPA Programs and FY 2014–2015 Outcome Measures

  • Chapter Three

    Estimated Juvenile Justice Costs for JJCPA Participants

  • Chapter Four

    Summary and Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Comparison Groups and Reference Periods for JJCPA Programs

  • Appendix B

    Probation's Ranking of the Big Six Outcome Measures

  • Appendix C

    Community-Based Organizations That Contracted to Provide Services for JJCPA Programs in FY 2014–2015

  • Appendix D

    Board of State and Community Corrections–Mandated and Supplemental Outcomes for Individual JJCPA Programs, FY 2014–2015

  • Appendix E

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

  • Appendix F

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

  • Appendix G

    Probation's Form for Measuring Family Relations

  • 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 Youths

The research reported here was conducted in the Justice Policy Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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