- In fiscal year (FY) 2015–2016, 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. 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. Differences in outcomes between program participants and comparison-group youths are relatively small, but they are consistent enough that they appear to be real differences rather than statistical anomalies. County-developed supplemental outcomes tend to be more favorable than state-mandated big six outcomes, although samples tend to be considerably smaller than for big six outcomes.
Nearly All of the Big Six Outcomes Measured Either Improved or Remained the Same
- Participants in the Enhanced Mental Health Services initiative had significantly fewer incarcerations than comparison-group youths. Participants in the Enhanced School- and Community-Based Services initiative had significantly more-positive outcomes than the baseline period or comparison group for arrest rate, completion of probation, and completion of community service.
- Those in Enhanced Services to High-Risk/High-Need Youths had a significantly lower rate of probation completion than last year's participants.
- No other big six outcomes showed any statistically significant change.
All of the Supplemental Outcomes Measured Either Improved or Remained the Same
- Participants in Multisystemic Therapy significantly improved in school attendance.
- Self-efficacy scores improved significantly for Gender-Specific Community youths between program entry and six months later, or upon exit from the program, whichever came first. Among High Risk/High Need participants, measures of family relations also improved significantly in the six months between program entry and exit.
- For the programs that used educational measures as supplemental outcomes, school attendance improved significantly in the term following program entry compared with the previous term. School suspensions and expulsions also dropped, although the differences were not always statistically significant. Among participants in the school-based programs, test scores were significantly higher for strengths and significantly lower for risks and barriers in the six months following program entry than at program entry. Abolish Chronic Truancy and Inside-Out Writers showed significant improvements in supplemental outcomes as well.
The research described in this report was conducted by the Justice Policy Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.
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