Magazine article Corrections Forum

Effective Intervention for Serious Juvenile Offenders

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Effective Intervention for Serious Juvenile Offenders

Article excerpt

Which interventions are most effective in dealing with the serious offender? Although recent research reviews have shown that some intervention programs result in lowered recidivism among youthful offenders, the reviews have only asked whether intervention is generally effective. Little systematic attention has been given to the effectiveness of interventions with distinct types of offenders, and little intervention research has looked specifically at serious offenders.

This Bulletin presents the results of a systematic synthesis of quantitative research results that posed two questions:

* Can intervention programs reduce recidivism rates among serious delinquents?

* If so, what types of programs are most effective?


Of the 83 studies on interventions with institutionalized offenders examined in the meta-analysis, 74 involved juveniles in the custody of juvenile justice institutions and 9 involved residential institutions administered by mental health or private agencies. All juveniles had committed serious offenses warranting confinement or close supervision in an institutional facility.

Recidivism effect sizes for the different treatment types were most consistently positive for interpersonal skills interventions and teaching family homes. Recidivism effects for behavioral, community residential, and multiple service programs were somewhat less consistently positive.

Using control group results from the available studies, the researchers estimated that the recidivism rate for these juveniles would be approximately 50 percent without treatment. Relative to that, the most effective treatments would reduce recidivism by 30-35 percent, a significant decrease considering the seriousness of these juveniles' delinquency.

The following describes the most effective intervention programs for institutionalized offenders..


* Adolescent boys living in a community home school participated in twelve 1-hour sessions in social skills training over 6 weeks.

* Adolescent boys at a youth center participated in aggression replacement training, which took place in 30 sessions over 10 weeks.

* The Social Interactional Skills Program was a structured didactic program that encouraged youth to recall problematic past experiences and identify negative social stimuli that affected their social interactions.


* In a community-based, family-- style group home, supervising adults (called teaching parents) used behavior modification with six to eight delinquent juveniles.

* Adjudicated delinquents were in a community-based, family-- style, behavior modification group home where teaching parents used a token economy to help youth progress behaviorally and academically.


* Incarcerated male and female adolescents participated in a 12-- week cognitive mediation training program involving small discussion groups ranging in size from 10 to.

* Institutionalized male delinquents participated in a stress inoculation training program that included defining anger, analyzing recent anger episodes, reviewing self-monitoring data, and constructing an individualized six-- item anger hierarchy.

* Girls in a correctional institution were trained in reinforcement therapy principles and acted as peer counselors for incoming wards. …

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