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Research Question

  1. In fiscal year 2011–2012, 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 been 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 Board of State and Community Corrections is required to submit annual reports to the California state legislature 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

Differences Between Program Participants and Comparison-Group Youth Were Mostly Positive, Though Relatively Small

  • Participants in the Enhanced Mental Health Services initiative completed probation and community service at significantly higher rates than comparison-group youth. Comparison-group youth were significantly less likely than program participants to be arrested.
  • Participants in the Enhanced Services to High-Risk/High-Need Youth initiative had significantly higher rates of completion of probation, restitution, and community service than comparison-group youth.
  • Participants in the Enhanced School- and Community-Based Services initiative had significantly better outcomes than the comparison group on four of the six measures. Comparison-group youth had significantly fewer arrests and incarcerations; program youth had significantly higher rates of completion of probation, restitution, and community service and lower rates of probation violations.

County-Developed Supplemental Outcomes Tend to Be More Favorable

  • Supplemental outcomes for all three programs in the Enhanced Mental Health Services initiative that qualified for statistical testing were significantly improved in the six months after program entry.
  • In the Enhanced Services to High-Risk/High-Need Youth initiative, the relevant supplemental outcomes for Gender-Specific Community and High Risk/High Need program participants were significantly improved in the six months after entering the program.
  • In the Enhanced School- and Community-Based Services initiative, for the programs that used educational measures as supplemental outcomes, school attendance improved significantly in the term following program entry, and school suspensions and expulsions were significantly reduced. All other supplemental outcomes that had enough successful outcomes to allow statistical testing showed significant improvement, except for special incident reports in the Inside-Out Writers program, in which there was no significant difference in rates between the two periods measured.

Recommendation

  • Increase the amount of data available for supplemental outcomes for all Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act programs.

This research was prepared for the Los Angeles County Probation Department and conducted in the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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