Cover: Promising Services for Justice-Involved Youth

Promising Services for Justice-Involved Youth

A Scoping Review with Implications for the Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act

Published Jan 5, 2023

by D. Michael Applegarth, P'trice Jones, Stephanie Brooks Holliday

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Research Questions

  1. What is the state of the evidence on existing programs for juvenile justice–involved populations?
  2. What types of programs have been evaluated in the academic literature, and what programs have emerged as promising or evidence-based?
  3. What are the gaps in the existing juvenile justice literature?
  4. What lessons drawn from the literature can be applied to the portfolio of programs funded by JJCPA in Los Angeles County?

The Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) provides funding to California counties to support programs that have proven their effectiveness in curbing crime among at-risk youth and youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

The authors of this report provide a review of the literature that evaluates programs for youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system to identify promising and effective practices. Findings from this report will help the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council in Los Angeles, California, make evidence-informed decisions regarding programs that are selected for funding, and will help community-based organizations that serve justice-involved youth choose program models that are effective for their target population.

Key Findings

  • Diversion programs, which aim to provide treatment in community-based settings, were generally found to be effective across a variety of program models.
  • Programs using cognitive behavioral approaches, multisystemic therapy, and functional family therapy were associated with positive outcomes.
  • Certain treatment approaches were less well supported by the literature. For example, programs designed to enhance community supervision with additional oversight resulted in mixed findings, with some programs resulting in increases in technical violations.
  • There were limitations to the existing literature, including a focus on recidivism as an outcome measure and limited efforts to disaggregate data by race, ethnicity, or gender.


  • The Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council can use this review to understand the evidence base of programs that apply for funding and identify those that use a well-support model.
  • Agencies serving at-risk and juvenile justice-involved youth may use these findings to understand what program models could be appropriate for the youth that they serve and the setting in which they provide services.

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the Los Angeles County Probation Department and conducted in the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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