- 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.
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.
- Probation should increase the amount and quality of data available for all programs to permit more evaluation and research.
The research reported here was conducted in the Justice Policy Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.
This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.