Academic journal article Journal of Juvenile Justice

Family-Focused Juvenile Reentry Services: A Quasi-Experimental Design Evaluation of Recidivism Outcomes

Academic journal article Journal of Juvenile Justice

Family-Focused Juvenile Reentry Services: A Quasi-Experimental Design Evaluation of Recidivism Outcomes

Article excerpt


Nationally, juvenile arrest rates have declined to their lowest levels since 1980 (Puzzanchera & Adams, 2011). However, recidivism rates for youth released from juvenile correctional facilities have failed to keep pace. The number of arrests involving juveniles in the United States declined by 17% between 2000 and 2009 (Puzzanchera & Adams, 2011), yet recidivism trends reported by various states either have remained relatively stable or revealed only incremental decreases over time (Feyerherm, 2011; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, 2011; Noreus & Foley, 2012; Pate, 2008; Rogan, 2008; Virginia Department of Corrections, 2011). Overall rates of recidivism for juveniles released from residential commitment are high. The Casey Foundation reports that 68% to 82% of these youth are rearrested within two years of release, and 38% to 58% are subsequently adjudicated or convicted for a new offense (Mendel, 2011).

Aftercare services in the juvenile justice system have historically been underfunded and have emphasized surveillance and community restraint, with little in the way of treatment interventions designed to address offender risks and needs, or the family and community dynamics to which youth return following residential commitment (Bouffard & Bergseth, 2008). Many states are looking to community-based juvenile reentry services that engage parents and caregivers in the treatment process as a way to reduce high rates of recidivism among youth released from correctional custody. These family-focused interventions are based on the theory that the family plays a pivotal role in reducing risk-directly, through social support and the exercise of supervision and guidance, and indirectly, by mitigating the influence of antisocial peers, antisocial thought patterns, and other potential risk factors.

Prior Research

Community-based programming has been found in several systematic reviews to provide larger effect sizes in reducing recidivism than traditional institutional interventions. For example, Andrews and colleagues (1990) found that the positive effects of appropriate correctional treatments in residential facilities were smaller than those in community-based facilities (0.20 for residential versus 0.35 in the community). In addition, the negative effects of inappropriate programming were more pronounced in residential settings (-0.15) than in the community (-0.06). Lipsey (2009) reported that recidivism effect sizes were largely similar whether juveniles at a given risk level received treatment services within the community or in a residential setting. Expanding upon their earlier research, Andrews and Bonta (2006) reached similar conclusions about the effectiveness of community-based treatment, finding the mean effect size of appropriate institutional programming was less than that of appropriate community-based programming (0.17 versus 0.35, respectively).

One of the advantages of community-based treatment for delinquent youth is that it offers the opportunity to intervene not only with the youth, but also to target risk factors associated with parents and the family. Juvenile offenders released from confinement often return to disorganized, chaotic family environments. The youth may have attained skills while in residential commitment, but the family may have remained largely unchanged in the interim. Addressing this issue becomes critical to reducing juvenile recidivism. Greenwood (2008) notes that "the most successful community-based programs are those that emphasize family interactions, probably because they focus on providing skills to the adults who are in the best position to supervise and train the child" (p. 198).

Family factors have a well-established link to antisocial behavior among youth, from classic research conducted by the Gluecks during the 1950s to today (Henggeler & Borduin, 1990; Quinn, 2004). Utilizing an ecological systems framework, Patterson and colleagues (1992) developed a social interactional, coercive family process model that mapped the developmental progression of antisocial boys to future delinquency and crime, with a focus on the influence of poor parental family management skills (Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.