The 8% Solution: Preventing Serious, Repeat Juvenile Crime
Publication Year: 2000
Subject: Juvenile/Youth Crime & Delinquency
The 8% Solution is a practical, common-sense guide offering long-term solutions to juvenile crime through a proven program. Written in narrative style with a liberal use of anecdotal incidents, this is an easy-to-read description of the law and details effective ways to correct the problem.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
Part I: The 8% Problem
- Chapter 1: The 8% Problem: Serious, Chronic Juvenile Offenders
- Chapter 2: Crime at an Early Age: “Let's Give ‘Em a Break”
- Chapter 3: Disrupted Families: The Continuing Family Crisis
- Chapter 4: School Failure: School's Out for Good … and That's Bad!
- Chapter 5: Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Getting “High” and Sinking Low
- Chapter 6: Gangs, Runaways, and Thieves: Definitely the Wrong Crowd
Part II: Toward an 8% Solution
- Chapter 7: Laying the Groundwork: Devising an Intervention Strategy
- Chapter 8: From the Ivory Tower to the Street: Field Testing the Program Model
- Chapter 9: All's Well that Ends Well: The Field Test Results
- Chapter 10: A Case Study: A Lesson From the Real World
- Chapter 11: The 8% Solution—Orange County Style: True Collaboration and a One-Stop Shop
- Chapter 12: Overcoming Barriers: 8% Lessons Learned
- Chapter 13: The Future of the 8% Solution: Building on a Sound Base
Copyright © 2000 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Schumacher. Michael Allen.
The 8 % solution: Preventing serious, repeat juvenile crime / by Michael Schumacher. Gwen A. Kurz.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-7619-1790-X (cloth: alk. paper)—ISBN 0-7619-1791-8 (pbk.: alk. paper)
1. Juvenile delinquents—Rehabilitation—California. 2. Social work with juvenile delinquents—California. 3. Juvenile delinquents—California—Prevention. 4. Juvenile recidivists—California. 5. Criminal behavior, Prediction of.
I. Kurz, Gwen A. II. Title.
III. Title: 8 percent solution.
HV9105.C2 S38 2000
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cover design: Len Bertini, President, CPS Digital, Inc.,
210 East Helen St., Palatine,
This book is dedicated to the fine men and women of the Orange County Probation Department who labor daily to make Orange County, California, a better, safer place for all of us.
All the staff of the Orange County Probation Department deserve praise for the part they played in the development of the 8% Problem research and the subsequent work on the 8% Early Intervention Program. Without their dedicated efforts, none of this would have been possible.
The primary credit for designing and guiding the study goes to Gwen Kurz, the director of program support and research, whose genius was behind the creation of the 8% studies and who continues as principal project investigator. In all phases of the 8% Problem studies, Gwen has been ably assisted by research analyst Lou Moore. Sue Collins, a senior research analyst, has also materially contributed to this venture by helping to develop the strong theoretical base on which the 8% Early Intervention Program is built and by her ongoing efforts to keep the 8% Problem Solution on track.
While the researchers were engaged in documenting the activities of the thousands of juveniles under study, life in probation field casework was under the guidance of Juvenile Supervision Director Bill Brooks, who now superbly oversees 8% Early Intervention Program activities as the director of community programs. The supervisors, counselors, and probation officers who handle the day-to-day casework, as well as our many collaborative partners, cannot be given enough credit for what they have helped us to learn about high-risk youths and families.
Of these individuals, the most significant contributor has been Monica Gallagher. She was the supervising probation officer who directed the 2-year field test of the 8% program model. She guided its transition from a primarily probation-directed intensive supervision program to the integrated, multidisciplinary service delivery system of today, with its impressive array of family-oriented services.
Although a few people were closer to the action than others, the impetus for the 8% studies arose from a strategic planning effort on the part of the probation department begun in 1988, that included all the division directors and chief deputies in determining the future directions for the probation department. It was during this time that the principal research questions were formulated and our plan for the future initiated. Without the support and determination of all these hard-working managers, the study and obviously this book would never have become a reality. We offer them our profound thanks.
This acknowledgment would not be complete without thanking the members of our private sector support group, the Probation Community [Page viii]Action Association (PCAA), for their dedication to the furtherance of our work. All proceeds from this book will be donated to the PCAA for its ongoing support of the 8% Early Intervention Program.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to Rod Speer, whose creativity and literary style have made this book much more readable. His help was invaluable in researching the anecdotal case examples, providing editorial comments and critique, and putting the finishing touches on the manuscript. Also deserving a round of applause was Mary Krutcik, who had the unenviable task of translating dictation and notes into an acceptable product, and Janice Burke, who proofread the final draft before publication. We thank all of you.
Also we express appreciation to Chief Deputy Probation Officers John Robinson, Stephanie Lewis, and Don Hallstrom and to Division Director Bill Brooks for their final review of the draft of the book to make sure nothing was amiss. Another reviewer of several drafts of the book and technical contributor to the theoretical base of the 8% Early Intervention Program is our friend and colleague James C. “Buddy” Howell. He is the former research director of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the primary architect of OJJDP's Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (Wilson & Howell, 1993). His advice and encouragement have been invaluable to us in the continuing research effort.
Finally, we want to thank the past and present boards of supervisors of Orange County, County Executive Officer Jan Mittermeier, and the presiding judges of Orange County Juvenile Court for their guidance, support, and direction during the 7 years of the original 8% studies and during our development of the 8% Early Intervention Program. Without their foresight, this landmark research would not have become a reality.
To all the people already acknowledged and those unsung heroes whose names have been inadvertently overlooked, we believe you can all be very proud of the products derived from the 8% Problem research. The principles underlying the 8% Problem studies and the 8% Early Intervention Program are free for the taking. It is our profound hope that they will be used by communities throughout our great nation to reduce crime, reclaim lives, and make the streets safer for current and future generations. If we are successful in this venture, we have all had a part in making history.
As serious juvenile crimes continue to make headlines and the youths who commit them begin their criminal careers earlier in life, cries go out in state legislatures and the halls of Congress for more police on the streets, more jails, and more prisons. Although additional police officers and prisons are needed, they are extremely expensive for society to sustain. They are also “after-the-fact” remedies. Once a criminal has been caught victimizing the community one too many times, society protects itself by paying for months and often years of incarceration.
The 8% Problem studies pave the way for a better long-term solution to serious repeat offending by focusing attention on those young juvenile offenders who are most likely to become the career criminals of tomorrow. This book is about identifying these young people and providing them with individual skill-building and family-oriented services to mitigate the factors that we have determined link kids to serious repeat crime.
Kids who get into trouble repeatedly initially enter the juvenile justice system with a full-blown set of problems that differentiate them from those who get into trouble with the law once, twice, or even three times. These differences are consistent and form a sound basis for identifying high-risk, first-time juvenile offenders so that attention can be focused early on those who most need help. This does not excuse any criminal behavior. It is necessary to hold all young people accountable for criminal offenses through a system of reasonable and graduated sanctions. That should not be the end of it, however.
Some people in criminal justice believe that even if differences do exist among juvenile offenders and can be reliably measured, all young people should still be treated in the same way. They fear that acting on identified differences will result in discrimination or in labeling kids as “losers” destined to be life-long criminals. Certainly, we must be cautious in our approach and consider each youth's rights and needs. In no way should a young person be treated more harshly because of a presumption that he or she will commit additional crimes. Also, neither should any young person be made to feel that a life of crime is his or her inevitable destiny.
We at the Orange County (California) Probation Department, however, believe it is critical to recognize important differences early on and respond accordingly. That response is not to punish a youth for uncommitted crimes, but rather to provide assistance which promotes better parenting and helps youth overcome personal problems associated with serious repeat offending. Even in a worst-case scenario, the targeted kids and families receive more help than they would have otherwise received.[Page x]
To make a dent in the long-term crime problem, we must determine which young people are most likely to become serious, chronic lawbreakers and focus our intervention efforts on breaking this cycle of crime. This book is the beginning of a road map on how to break this cycle. In it, we have attempted to describe in a readable way a set of characteristics and problems that are far more complicated than they may seem on the surface.
We spent 7 years identifying the 8% risk factors. We spent 5 more years developing and testing early intervention strategies aimed at helping 8% Problem youth and families avoid the pain and lost productivity associated with serious, chronic offending. This has been slow, difficult work. It appears we are on the right track, however.
The theoretical model developed shortly after the 8% Problem study was completed in 1994 has served us very well. As those underlying principles were transformed into a viable, working program, we learned many important lessons worth sharing. Today, we are partners in the 8% Solution with a number of county and private agencies providing an array of program services at Youth and Family Resource Centers throughout Orange County.
Youth in our 8% Solution experiment receive a high level of supervision, structure, and support as they work to build academic and social skills, and overcome addictions and other problems in their lives. In addition, their brothers, sisters, and parents benefit from program services. As a result, the teenagers in the 8% program have committed fewer and less serious offenses and have served less time in custody than their counterparts receiving standard probation services.
As of June 1997, we began testing the 8% Solution using approved scientific methods. While this evaluation will continue until at least June 2001, the preliminary results are promising. The 8% Solution is still a work in progress, yet it is an important work that we believe is well worth continuing. After reading this book, we hope that you agree.
Appendix A: The “8% Problem”: Chronic Juvenile Offender Recidivism: Exploratory Research Findings and Implications for Problem Solutions[Page 93]Executive Summary
In the 1980s, Orange County, California, experienced a rise in juvenile crime along with a rise in population, increased urbanization, and other changes. Yet the resources available to county and city governments did not keep pace, and sometimes shrank.
As a result, the Orange County Probation Department began focusing its efforts on the most serious offenders, with little left to devote to early intervention. But given limited resources, was this the best approach?
As part of Strategic Planning efforts for the 1990s, the department's management directed its in-house research staff to undertake studies to answer the question, “How well is the Probation Department doing with the youthful offenders of today?” As a by-product of these studies, a group of chronic juvenile re-offenders was identified as the “8% problem.”
This report summarizes the significant findings of those exploratory studies, conducted in Orange County between 1987 and 1993.[Page 94]
The Probation Department research staff had previously conducted research on risk factors with juvenile offenders and was knowledgeable of other studies in the field. This experience and knowledge provided direction to the formal study effort, which ultimately involved three phases of exploration.
In Study Phase I, two sets of data were examined, each comprising more than 3,000 juvenile offenders who entered Orange County's juvenile justice system for the first time during the first six months of 1985 and 1987, respectively. Each cohort of minors was tracked for three years to determine the overall volume of offenses committed and to examine differences between those minors who commit just one offense versus those who become low rate or chronic re-offenders.
During Study Phase II, a sample of the 1987 study cohort was drawn to further examine the differences between three subgroups:
Non-recidivists: Those minors with one referral to the Probation Department for a criminal offense during the three-year study period.
Low-rate recidivists: Those minors with two or three criminal justice referrals during the three-year study period.
Chronic recidivists: Those minors with four or more referrals during the three-year study period.
For the 1987 study subsamples, researchers gathered additional profile data and extended the tracking period for subsequent offenses to a total of six years.
Study Phase II resulted in a recommended target population for the development and testing of early intervention strategies to reduce chronic juvenile recidivism in Orange County. It also provided data indicative of the costs associated with the “8% problem” group.
In Study Phase III, the specific factors which were found to best predict chronic juvenile offending during Study Phase II were tested with a second, much larger data set. This led to specific recommendations for a pilot intervention project and follow-on study effort.
Overall, these study results are hopeful, concluding that through improved information-sharing and risk assessment techniques, a larger proportion of high-risk minors can be turned around before they become part of the “8% problem.” There is also ample evidence that even a small reduction in Orange County's rate of chronic juvenile recidivism can pay major dividends to individual families and the safety of our communities for years to come.
The following provides a summary of the major findings of each study phase and the study conclusions. Also included is a brief description of the “8% problem” solution—the pilot intervention project that is being designed at the Orange County Probation Department.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This Executive Summary was prepared in March 1994 by Gwen A. Kurz and Louis E. Moore of the Orange County Probation Department to facilitate the distribution of the results of the Probation Department's studies on chronic juvenile offender recidivism to criminal justice professionals and other interested parties. Notations were added by Ms. Kurz in March 1999 to reflect changes resulting from the continuing research effort.[Page 95]Study Phase I: “8% Problem” Identification
The tracking of two cohorts of more than 3,000 first-time juvenile offenders revealed that, in the vast majority of cases, the juvenile justice system in Orange County was successful in deterring repeat offenses. Some aspect of each minor's contact with police, probation or the courts apparently had a positive influence on their lives.
On the other end of the spectrum, a small, troublesome group of frequent re-offenders was identified.
More specifically, the study showed that:
- At least two-thirds of the minors in both studies (71 % in the second study) did not have a new probation referral during the initial three-year study period. Referrals to the Probation Department consist of an application for a petition to be filed in Juvenile Court, alleging a criminal offense.
- Some offenders (21% in the second study) went on to commit one or two additional offenses during the study period.
- A small percentage of minors (10% in the first study and 8% in the second) committed at least three additional offenses during the study period. These youths accounted for more than half of the repeat offenses committed by each study group.
After the second recidivism analysis was completed on the 1987 cohort, the group of minors with four or more applications for petition during the three-year tracking period began being called the “8% problem” (see Table 1).Study Phases II and III: “8% Problem” Definition
The next two study phases were aimed at better understanding the characteristics and profile of the “8%” repeat offenders and the costs associated with their handling.
The study effort focused exclusively on the 1987 study group, reexamining the full cohort of 3, 164 minors and more in-depth analysis of representative subsamples.
A major conclusion from Study Phase II was that a highly significant proportion of the chronic juvenile offenders in Orange County could be accurately identified and targeted for early intervention at the time of their first-ever system referral. This was done by combining an Age factor (15 or younger at the initial contact) with the presence of a Multi-Problem factor (see Table 2).[Page 96]Table 1: Orange County Juvenile Justice System Recidivism Analyses
Below are the key findings from Study Phases II and III:
- A majority of the chronic recidivist (8%) group was age 15 or younger at the time of their initial case disposition (57% compared with only 23% and 31% of the non- and low-rate recidivist groups, respectively).
- Nearly half of the minors who became recidivists were made wards of the Court at their initial system referral versus only 22% of non-recidivists.
- The chronic recidivism rate for first-time wards age 15 or less (32%) was four times as great as that of first-time wards age 16 or older (8%). These findings did not vary based on gender, ethnicity, or referral offense.
- The chronic recidivist group was found to have significantly more problem areas in their lives, such as drug abuse, dysfunctional families, or failure in school, based on an initial evaluation of six problem variables. These chronic juvenile offenders averaged 3.25 problems each, compared to 1.74 for the low-rate recidivist group and 1.06 for the majority of youths who committed only a single offense. These problem areas were later refined and grouped into the four composite problem factors listed in Table 2.
- Utilizing the 1987 sub-samples, minors age 15 or less and minors declared wards of the Juvenile Court after their initial offense were also found to have a higher average number of problem factors [Page 97](see Table 2) than those who were age 16 or older or whose initial cases were dismissed or handled with informal probation.
- Based on a six-year follow-up of the 1987study sub-samples, chronic juvenile offenders averaged nearly 20 months of incarceration, costing Orange County taxpayers $44,000 apiece in custody costs alone. Because at least 500 new “8% problem” cases are added to Orange County's criminal justice system annually, each new group could potentially cost taxpayers $22 million to incarcerate.
During Study Phases II and III, the researchers also conducted a variety of tests to see how well various factors worked as predictors of youths who would become serious, chronic juvenile offenders.
The previously referenced Multi-Problem profile and Age factors were tested as predictors of chronic recidivism with the study sub-samples from the 1987 cohort. In 70% of the cases, these factors accurately predicted whether a youth would become a chronic juvenile offender. (This test produced 19% false positives and 11% false negatives.) With youths ages 15 and younger, the degree of accuracy rose to 77%, and with older minors it fell to 64%.
In Study Phase III, a similar test was conducted with 905 first-time wards of the court—the recommended target population and the more serious of the first-time offenders. In 66% of the cases, the recommended factors correctly identified youths as chronic, low rate or non-recidivists. (This test produced 28% false positives and only 6% false negatives.) By correcting problems with variable definitions for the first-time ward data set, the number of false positives can be significantly reduced.
Based on the study results, the authors recommend targeting younger minors with multiple problem profiles as defined in Table 2 for the design of new program strategies aimed at reducing chronic recidivism. Two notes of caution should be considered:
Table 2: Recommended Composite Problem Factors[Page 99]Study Conclusions
- There is as yet no proof that the recommended strategies (see Study Conclusions) will work better than those currently employed. Therefore, a pilot program is recommended, with a formal program evaluation component.
- The initial target population should consist of young, first-time wards of the Court. The Probation Department already has a mandate to take appropriate action to prevent further criminal activity with this population.
Based on the findings of the entire exploratory research effort, the authors have concluded that:
Toward the Development of “8% Problem” Solutions
- The number of chronic juvenile recidivists in Orange County can be reduced through a coordinated program of aggressive early intervention and treatment of young, high-risk juvenile offenders and their families.
- A significant proportion of chronic juvenile offenders can be accurately targeted for early intervention the very first time they are referred for juvenile justice system handling. The problems in their lives (from Table 2) are evident before they are influenced by the juvenile justice system or involved in further crimes.
- Significant risk factors are often overlooked at key points in the processing of youth through Orange County's juvenile justice system due to a lack of critical information. Information-sharing among youth-serving agencies and improved risk assessment techniques hold significant potential for increasing overall system effectiveness.
- Cooperative, concerted efforts to empower and build the families of high-risk youth can pay major dividends for years to come. More than half of the families of high-risk youth studied for this report had significant problems impeding their ability to provide adequate supervision, structure, or support to their children.
- Even a modest reduction in recidivism rates for the “8% problem” group identified in this study effort could result in major, long-term savings for Orange County's criminal justice system.
In the spring of 1993, the Orange County Probation Department was awarded a National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Program Development grant which provides technical assistance from NIC and Temple University staff to design an “8%” intervention program. For the past seven months, a multi-agency group has been meeting to plan the pilot project.
The recommended case identification procedures and assessment tools are currently undergoing field tests. The formal pilot project and research component are expected to be implemented in July 1994.[Page 100]
Key program components will include:
- Providing adequate levels of supervision, structure, and support to minors and their families throughout the intervention process.
- Promoting accountability by the minors for their actions and developing increased sensitivity to the impact of their actions on others.
- Developing strategies that produce educational success, in part by assisting families to ensure that their minors attend school regularly.
- Promoting pro-social values, behavior and relationships.
- Developing individualized intervention strategies that are close to home and have strong follow-up beyond the “crisis” stage.
- Strongly promoting teamwork among the family, professional staff, and community volunteers.
1999 Note: Due to Orange County's declaration of bankruptcy in December 1994, the field tests were continued into 1996. Based on the field test results, the validity of the theoretical model was confirmed. However, a number of process issues and critical program resources were identified as important for sustaining short-term positive program outcomes, i.e., for the first 6–12 months of wardship, in the longer term, e.g. to curtail serious, chronic juvenile offending and prevent the development of adult criminal careers.
Through a combination of local, state and federal funds, the proposed 8% Problem Solution was implemented with the desired formal experimental research component in June 1997. This demonstration program/research project will continue through June 2001.
Appendix B: 8% Problem Study Methodology[Page 101]Background
Over the decade of the 1980s, the County of Orange became increasingly urban and more ethnically and culturally diverse. Statistics published by the County Administrative Office indicate that from 1980 to 1990:
- The total population of Orange County increased by 26%.
- The number of cities in Orange County grew to 31, with 10 over 100,000 population and five new since 1988.
- The Hispanic population of Orange County doubled while its Asian population tripled. By 1990, one in four Orange County residents was Hispanic, while one in 10 was Asian.
- 7,400 undocumented aliens were added each year for a total of 166,000 by 1990.
Over the same time period, there was dramatic growth in the number of criminally active gangs, violent crimes, and crimes involving the use of weapons. Many of these serious crimes have involved juvenile offenders. Information provided by the California Center for Law Enforcement Assistance indicated that, from 1980 to 1990, juvenile arrests for violent crimes increased by 45%—murder +130%, forcible rape +70%, and robbery +65%—while juvenile felony arrests involving the use of weapons increased by 48%.
The resources available to county and city governments to deal with the problems and challenges of increased urbanization could not keep pace. The trend was, therefore, to focus a greater proportion of available [Page 102]resources on the most difficult urban problems. Within the juvenile justice system of Orange County, as the number of referrals for serious crimes increased, the demand for programs and services that ensure a higher level of community protection also increased. According to the records of the Orange County Probation Department, from 1980 to 1990 Juvenile Court dispositions involving custody increased by 43%, commitments to local institutions were up 40%, and commitments to the California Youth Authority rose by 169%.
These higher control dispositional options are very costly. In 1990, local commitments in Orange County averaged 74 days and cost approximately $5,500 each, whereas commitments to the California Youth Authority averaged just over two years and cost about $55,000 per commitment. If a minor receives multiple commitments at any level, the custody costs alone become staggering!1
Noting these disturbing trends, between 1985 and 1987 the Orange County Probation Department implemented a model for the management of probation resources recommended by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). This model is predicated on the use of valid procedures for assessing the relative degree of risk various groups of minors present for committing multiple offenses. Therefore, as part of model implementation, the department developed and validated a Juvenile Offender Risk Assessment instrument, with technical assistance from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and NIC staff.
Developed for use with a probation field supervision population, the instrument was initially constructed utilizing those factors that juvenile field supervision officers felt best predicted subsequent offense behavior. Data was collected on both new and active cases to test the proposed Initial Assessment and Reassessment instruments. This sample of over 500 cases was followed for a six-month period and any subsequent petition filings recorded. These included both alleged technical and new law violations.
Based on these data analyses, the Orange County classification instruments were fine-tuned to achieve maximum discrimination2 based on the dependent variables, i.e., the number of new law and technical violations over an initial six-month tracking period. The following factor sets were found to differentiate High-, Medium-, and Low-Risk juvenile probationers in Orange County, in order of their relative contribution to a higher risk of reoffending.
PRIOR OFFENSE HISTORY: Multiple measures, ranging from prior arrests up to and including prior incarceration or out-of-home placement. (The more “priors,” the higher the risk score.)
MULTIPLE PROBLEMS: Includes lack of parental supervision and control; school attendance, behavior, and/or performance problems; substance [Page 103]abuse; chronic runaway behavior; and gang affiliations. (The more problems, the higher the Risk score.)
AGE AT INITIAL ASSESSMENT (15 or younger vs. 16 and older): This factor proved to be important in relation to the other two factor sets, particularly, the problem variables referenced above. (Younger minors with multiple problems had significantly higher recidivism rates than their older counterparts in both the Medium- and High-Risk groups.)
When these Juvenile Offender Risk Assessment instruments were formally adopted by the Probation Department and placed into departmentwide use, a Management Information System component was also established to record the profile of each minor at the Initial and most recent (or, Final) Assessment and document all technical and new law violations occurring during each minor's period of supervision. Thus, the capability was created to monitor and test the validity of these classification instruments, both over time and for longer periods of offense tracking than those utilized in the original validation effort.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a composite of the background section and original appendix from The “8% Problem”: Chronic Juvenile Offender Recidivism (Kurz and Moore, 1994) which describes the research methodology used to examine juvenile offender recidivism in Orange County.8% Problem Identification
In late 1988, a department-wide strategic planning effort was launched aimed at preparing for the anticipated changes and challenges in Orange County during the decade of the 1990s. Among the first questions raised by the participating managers were:
- How are “we”—the Orange County Probation Department—doing with the youthful offenders of today?
- Does the historical effectiveness information provide any clues as to how the department needs to change its service delivery systems to be more effective with the youthful offender populations of the next decade?
A significant amount of information was available on the outcomes achieved by individual program components administered by the department, such as the County's Juvenile Diversion program, probation field supervision and institutional treatment programs. However, there was very little information available by which to gauge the effectiveness of the department's overall juvenile operation or the relative costs of serving minors who re-offend with different frequencies.
In this latter regard, one data set offered some promise—the Juvenile Court and Probation Statistical System (JCPSS) maintained by the California Bureau of Criminal Statistics (BCS). While containing a somewhat limited set of information,3 the Orange County data were both complete and known to be of consistently high quality, thanks to the efforts of both [Page 104]BCS and departmental clerical staff over the years of the JCPSS’ existence.
In 1989 and again in 1990, two recidivism analyses were completed with assistance from the California Bureau of Criminal Statistics. Both involved the identification of an entire cohort of minors with their “first ever” application for petition during the first six months of either 1985 or 1987. In both study efforts, the number of minors identified equated to more than 3,000 individuals.
The 1985 cohort was tracked through the end of 1987 (and the 1987 cohort was tracked through the end of 1989) to identify:
- Any minors having subsequent applications for petition within each three-year study period; and
- The number and proportion of minors with 1, 2, 3 etc. subsequent applications for petition within each three-year tracking period.
The cohort was divided into three study groups stratified according to the total number of times minors were referred to the Probation Department during the tracking period.
The first study group included those minors who had only one application for petition during the entire tracking period. This group accounted for 71% of the cohort (2,234 of 3,164) and is referred to as the Non-recidivist study group.
The second study group (677 of 3, 164) consisted of minors who had a total of two or three applications for petition during the follow-up period. This group comprised 21% of the study cohort and accounted for 45% of all re-referrals during the follow-up period. This group of minors is referred to as the Low-Rate recidivist group.
The third and final group included minors with a total of four or more applications for petition during the tracking period and is referred to as the Chronic recidivist (or “8% problem”) group. These minors comprised only 8% of the study cohort, but accounted for 55% of all re-referrals during the tracking period.Problem Definition (Relationship to Juvenile Risk Factors)
Having identified this “8% problem” group, the next phase of data exploration was aimed at broader definition of the problem, using the authors’ knowledge of juvenile offender risk prediction factors to guide the analysis plan.[Page 105]
Noting that the department does not appear to be doing well with its “8%-ers” now, the specific study questions were:
- Are the “8%” minors different from the other two groups of non-and low-rate juvenile recidivists in ways that can be accurately and consistently identified early in their careers (at the first or second system referral)?
- Is there anything in the data regarding the profile or current handling of these “8%” minors that would provide us with clues as to problem solutions (i.e., more cost-effective intervention strategies and/or ways of allocating limited juvenile justice system resources)?
There were five steps involved in acquiring the study sample used for this analysis phase, once the 1987 study cohort had been partitioned into the three study groups described in Section II.
Step 1 required reducing the original 1987 cohort by 49 cases, to exclude those cases that were missing any of the original JCPSS data elements. (In this process, the proportional relationships between the original study groups were maintained.)
In Step 2, a sample of 220 minors was initially selected, using age distributions as the criteria to determine the appropriate sample size for each of the three study groups. Three subsamples were selected, one from each of the total cohort study groups, including 78 Non-recidivists, 70 Low-Rate Recidivists, and 72 Chronic Recidivists.
Steps 3 and 4 of the sample development process required a thorough review of the juvenile case files for each of the cases selected in Step 2. Step 3 confirmed that only minors with initial referrals during the first six months of 1987 were assigned to the study sample. Step 4 verified the number of system contacts during the initial tracking period. (This step included tracking minors into the adult system if they turned 18 during the 36-month follow-up period.) As a result of these two sample development steps, 13 cases were deleted from the study sample and 42 cases were reassigned to a different study group, as follows.
- 22% of the non-recidivist cases were found to be Low-Rate recidivists and 5% were found to be Chronic recidivists. (73% remained in the Non-recidivist subgroup.)
- 4% of the original Low-Rate recidivists became Non-recidivists while 22% were found to be Chronic recidivists. (74% remained in the Low-Rate recidivist group.)
- None of the Chronic recidivists were moved to the Non-recidivist group while 6% were found to be Low-Rate recidivists. (94% remained in the Chronic recidivist group.)
Without this case review process, the size of the Non-recidivist group would have been overstated while the size of the Low-Rate and Chronic recidivist groups would have been understated.
During Step 5, the residence status of each minor was verified. As a result, a total of 36 cases were removed from the study sample due to being out-of-county residents.
Thirty-six percent of the Non-recidivist cases were out-of-county residents vs. 16% of the Low-Rate recidivists and a mere 6% of the Chronic recidivist subgroups.
The following chart provides a comparison of the original study sample with the one ultimately used for the follow-up study analyses:Table 1: 8% Study Sample Development
From this sample selection process involving detailed case reviews, the authors concluded that the original “8% problem” designation might understate the chronic recidivism rate for juveniles initially referred to the juvenile justice system in Orange County. The actual rate may be somewhat higher, but would not be expected to exceed 15%.[Page 107]First-Time Ward Data Set (N = 905)
The 1987 Referral Cohort Study subsample analyses provided valuable information regarding the relationship between the identified problem factors, the minor's age and subsequent wardship status, and chronic juvenile offender recidivism rates. One limitation, particularly as related to the “multiproblem” factor testing, was the size of the study subsamples. Therefore, before moving ahead to develop intervention strategies for first-time wards with the identified high-risk profiles, the authors felt the need to “test” the predictive accuracy of the recommended target population “eligibility criteria” with a larger sample of first-time wards.
The Orange County Probation Department maintains a Management Information System component called the Juvenile Profile/Outcome System, which consists of the profile of each minor placed under field supervision at the time of his or her initial and most recent (or final) assessment for case classification purposes. This database was used to identify a one-year cohort of “first-time” juvenile wards, i.e., those with no prior arrests or referrals to the Probation Department in Orange County during CY-1987. A total of 1,039 cases were initially identified who met these selection criteria.
Cases from this group of first-time wards were then matched to their corresponding records in the JCPSS data file. 905 of the 1,039 first-time wards selected from the Juvenile Profile/Outcome system were found to also have complete records in the 1987 JCPSS data file. This cohort of 905 minors (referred to as the First-time Ward data set) was further partitioned into three subsamples, based on the total number of times the minor was referred on an application for petition during the three-year follow-up period.
Within the First-time Ward data set, 50% of the cases (450/905) were found to be Non-recidivists, 35% (315/905) were found to be Low-Rate recidivists (having one or two subsequent petitions during the three-year follow-up period) and 15% (140/905) were identified as Chronic recidivists with a total of four or more petitions during the three-year follow-up period.
In order to investigate the relationship between the previously identified problem factors and chronic juvenile offender recidivism rates, variables from the Orange County Juvenile Offender Risk and Needs Assessment scales were selected which most closely approximated the 8% risk factor definitions. These data were then subjected to the statistical analyses described in the text of this report.[Page 108]Study Limitations/8% Exploratory Areas for Additional Study
As with any study dealing with risk prediction, the extent to which the 8% Problem study findings and conclusions may be generalized to other jurisdictions of comparable size and demographic make-up (much less those which are noncomparable) is an issue that should be approached with caution.
A number of other jurisdictions in California have used the Orange County Probation Department's recidivism analysis methodology to see what they come up with in terms of non-, low-rate, and chronic recidivist groups. This was, in fact, part of the technical assistance grant jointly awarded by the National Institute of Corrections to the Orange and Los Angeles County Probation Departments to assist in the design of potential “8% problem” solution(s) in these two counties.
The specific risk factors that were used in the development of the Orange County pilot intervention project, i.e. field test, and case identification procedures are comparable to those which other researchers have found to be significantly correlated with a higher risk of reoffending. They have nonetheless been specifically developed to accurately identify the youth in Orange County's juvenile justice system referral and/or ward population that are in need of a high level of resource coordination and focus.
Additionally, most of the proposed risk assessment variables have been validated and revalidated with various juvenile offender populations in Orange County over the past 10 years. Thus, the goal of the 1987 Initial Referral sample data analyses was not to create a new risk scale, but to confirm that the study subsamples conformed to the anticipated variable distribution patterns and to determine which factors best predict chronic juvenile offending.
The focus of the initial pilot project (or “field test”) aimed at improving Orange County's “system batting average” with chronic juvenile recidivists was, as previously stated, younger, first-time wards in Orange County who present a multiproblem profile at the time of their first (or second) system referral. This is primarily because, based on the Orange County data analyses, this group had the highest rate of chronic recidivism. However, the authors wish to emphasize that we do not advocate, nor do any of our study findings support, any type of punitive action or the exercise of a higher level of control over the minor's actions based on the recommended target population criteria, than those already mandated or authorized by the Court in each individual case.
Further testing of the recommended “8%” case identification procedures has occurred and is still occurring to refine the estimates of the [Page 109]number of new “8%” minors that the system can be expected to receive in coming years. Major improvements have also been made in assessing the risk and needs associated with all first-time wards on a more timely and accurate basis and expediting the initiation of appropriate intervention programming.
System cost estimates need to be refined, using measures other than custody time savings. In the current experimental program evaluation, consultation with the County Executive Office and other juvenile justice system professionals is taking place to more fully address this important measure of project impact.
Under a separate state grant, the authors are also testing an early intervention program for older, first-time wards who become chronic recidivists. The analyses conducted to date indicate that substance abuse may be the most significant factor in the “late” onset of a chronic pattern of re-offending for this 8% problem group.
From the case study portion of this study effort, the authors were impressed with what appears to be a link between younger minors whose profile at initial referral includes a pattern of runaway behavior and child abuse/neglect. Unfortunately, this latter issue is often not recognized (nor does it come to the system's attention) until years after the initial system referral; however, minors subsequently report it as a long-standing issue, related to their earlier runaway episodes. This area is receiving closer attention in the pilot project case assessment, service delivery, and follow-on study plans.Notes
1. Local custody cost data provided by the Orange County Probation Department. State custody cost data provided by the California Youth Authority.
2. Baird, C. (1984, March) Review of Orange County Juvenile Probation Classification System. Isthmus Associates. Madison, Wisconsin.
3. The Juvenile Court and Probation Statistical System (JCPSS) database consisted of all minors referred for alleged criminal code violations for which the disposition of that offense occurred within a given calendar year. The database includes the minor's name, date of birth, gender, ethnicity, the highest referral charge—both the level (felony vs. misdemeanor) and type (criminal code section)—and all system disposition data and dates, e.g., Probation, District Attorney and Court, related to each discrete referral. The statewide system was terminated in October 1990, due to budget cutbacks at the state level. Efforts to bring this system back on line are currently under way. Orange County has maintained this database locally to the present time.[Page 110]
Appendix C: California Repeat Offender Prevention Project: Common Program Components[Page 111]
- Common Target Population Definition
- First-time wards of the Juvenile Court for criminal charges, living at home and under probation supervision, less than age 15.5 at time of wardship and presenting at least three 8% risk factors. (Before July 1999, Los Angeles County Probation was testing this early intervention approach with youth who had not as yet come in contact with the juvenile justice system for criminal offenses. However, all seven counties now use the same target population definition.)
- Common Program Elements
- Multi-disciplinary assessment and service delivery approach aimed at empowering potential 8% youth and families to solve problems in identified 8% risk factor areas through intensive intervention (competency building) efforts.
- The use of a broader range of graduated sanctions, encouraging 8% youth to accept responsibility for their criminal actions.
- Common Program Goals
- To reduce the number of high-risk youth who become serious, chronic juvenile and adult offenders.
- To reduce the demand for long-term custody commitments on behalf of the target population.
- Common Program Evaluation Framework
- Data collection and analysis involving an experimental research design and employing random assignment of youth and families meeting the program selection criteria to an experimental program or control group. (The expectation is that the services provided to the experimental program group will be substantially different, such as of greater intensity and duration, than those provided to the control group.)
Pilot counties were encouraged to develop a program implementation strategy that best meets the needs of their respective target populations to access and benefit from model program services. Those strategies must take into account necessary differences in juvenile justice system policies, procedures and resources.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This summary of program components was extracted from materials prepared by the California Board of Corrections for the participating counties in the California Repeat Offender Prevention Project. The program components were derived from the enabling legislation. The applicable sections of the state's Welfare and Institutions Code are also included.
Appendix D: Case Selection and Program Process Summary: 8% Early Intervention Program[Page 117]Juvenile Probation Intake
Minors may be referred to the Probation Department for Intake as either Noncustody or Custody cases. Noncustody cases remain in the community during the processing of their offense behavior, while custody cases are lodged in Juvenile Hall. In either situation, the case may receive a full intake or be sent directly to the District Attorney for filing without benefit of an intake. The following briefly describes the handling of each type of case:
Cases receiving full intakes: Minors who receive full intakes will be interviewed by an Intake officer and will have the opportunity to provide a statement concerning the circumstances of the offense as well as information about themselves including social history, school performance, substance use, etc. The parents will also be interviewed. Following completion of the interview, the Intake officer will complete an Intake Assessment Worksheet which summarizes the case and identifies potential problems in four key areas associated with chronic delinquency (i.e., family issues, school issues, substance abuse, and delinquency [Page 118]factors). If the Intake officer identifies two or more problems, then the case is flagged as a “potential 8% case.” (Risk Verification Criteria and Guidelines are used by Intake, Investigation and Case Screening personnel to assess the 8% Risk Factors).
Cases with no intakes: If the minor and his/her parents fail to appear for their scheduled appointments for interviews, the case will automatically be referred to the District Attorney for filing and no Intake Assessment will be completed. The Application for Petition is the only source of information regarding the case.
653 WIC cases sent directly to the DA without intake: Welfare and Institutions Code section 653 requires that minors who commit offenses defined under this code section are sent directly to the District Attorney for filing without benefit of a Probation Intake. In these cases, involving more serious crimes, no Intake Assessment Worksheet will be completed. There will also be no interview with the minor nor his/her parents or guardians. The Application for Petition is the only source of information regarding the case.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is an Orange County Probation Department internal document prepared by research and program staff. It was designed to document the case selection process and other key program processes for the purpose of staff training and for program replication in other county regions.Juvenile Investigation
If ordered by the Court, the Juvenile Investigation function will complete a report which will include a summary of the offense, the minor's offense history, a social history if the minor's parents or guardians are available for interview, a victim statement if appropriate, a statement from the minor, and a recommendation regarding disposition of the case. Court reports are not ordered for every case.Aftercourt
The juvenile case file is forwarded to the Aftercourt function following Court disposition and declaration of wardship. The Aftercourt function is responsible for routing the case file to the appropriate area office following completion of the case file setup process. The Aftercourt clerk will screen each of the cases coming through the function and will flag those cases meeting the following criteria and forward them to the 8% Early Intervention Project Supervisor at the Youth and Family Resource Center in Anaheim:[Page 119]
- The minor is a newly declared ward
- The minor was 15 and 6 months or younger on the date of wardship declaration
- The minor lives in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, or Fullerton
The Supervisor of the 8% Early Intervention Program or designee is responsible for screening each of the flagged cases to determine their eligibility for the program. The screening will involve a review of the documents that are available in the case file. The documents may include the:
- Intake Assessment Worksheet
- Application for Petition
- Dispositional Report, if one was completed
- Court Order, including the terms and conditions of probation
- The Police report
If there is no Dispositional Report in the file, the screener (a probation officer) will call the Juvenile Investigation Unit to determine if one was completed and, if so, have a copy of the report faxed to the Youth and Family Resource Center to expedite the screening process.
In addition, the screener will contact the Social Services Agency to obtain information regarding the family's history of contacts with the agency including incidence of 300 WIC (dependency) petitions, child abuse reports (CAR), or other contacts. The information is generally available immediately through a computerized records system and will be faxed to the screener.
The screener may obtain other information including school records and social history information through contacts with the family members.
The case screener will complete a Case Selection Summary packet that identifies characteristics that are associated with a pattern of chronic recidivism.[Page 120]
In order to be eligible for the program, the minor must meet the following criteria:
- The minor has been declared a ward of the Juvenile Court as a result of a first or second filed petition to the Probation Department.
- The minor is 15.5 years of age or younger at the point of declaration of wardship.
- The minor resides in the target area (i.e., the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park or Fullerton).
- The minor has three or more of the problems identified through Case Selection Summary that suggest that he or she may be at risk for chronic recidivism:
- Poor school behavior or performance (may include truancy suspensions or expulsions, and/or failing grades)
- Chronic family problems (predominantly identified by a lack of adequate parental supervision, structure, and support for pro-social activities)
- Drug or alcohol use (any pattern of use, regardless of amount)
- Pre-delinquent factors (includes a pattern of running away from home, a history of stealing, and/or identification with gang members or association with criminally involved peers)
- The minor is a legal resident of the State of California.
If the minor is found to meet these criteria, the case will be referred to the Research staff for a case assignment determination. This will be accomplished via telephone or direct contact with the Research staff. The case file will remain with the screener until a determination is made.
Minors who do not meet the eligibility criteria will be forwarded to a regular juvenile field supervision unit.
The case screening process will be completed within 3 working days of the receipt of the case by the case screener.[Page 121]Case Assignment
Eligible cases will be randomly assigned to either the 8% Repeat Offender Prevention Project (experimental) or regular juvenile field supervision (control) by the Research staff. The 8% Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) SPO will forward all case screening forms to the Research staff.
ROPP cases: If the minor is assigned to the 8% ROPP, the Unit Supervisor will assign the case to one of 4 DPOs.
Control cases: If the minor is assigned to the control group, the case file will be forwarded to the North County Field Services Office for assignment by the regular field supervision Unit SPO.
The case screener will forward each case with a packet of forms that are to be completed by the assigned DPO. These forms include
- A school release form
- A Family Assessment form
The case assessment for both experimental and control cases will involve the completion of the following:
- Initial Risk/Needs Assessment
- Initial Family Assessment
- Case Plan
The assessment process is to be completed within 45 days of the assignment of the case. In order to gather necessary information to complete the assessment and develop a case plan, the assigned DPO will review all of the available records, complete one or more interviews with the minor and his/her family, and visit the minor's home. The forms that will be used for the assessment of the minor and family in the experimental and control groups are identical. The case planning forms and process differ, however.[Page 122]
Control group: Following assessment of the minor's risk and needs factors, the DPO will complete the objective-based case plan section of the Initial Risk/Needs Assessment packet. This will include identification of specific case objectives and an action plan to achieve those objectives. The case plan will be reviewed by the Supervising Probation Officer and issues of concern will be staffed with the DPO.
Experimental group (8% Early Intervention Program): During the 45-day assessment period the assigned DPO will have frequent contact with the minor and the family at the Youth and Family Resource Center as well as at their home. Treatment team members will also be involved in contacts with the family to develop a thorough assessment of the minor and family's needs. During this period, complete school records will be obtained on the minor and any available diagnostic information will be requested.
A meeting will be scheduled for the minor and family and the treatment team at approximately the 45-day point to develop a mutually agreeable case plan. Two weeks prior to this meeting, the treatment team will meet to discuss the problems that the minor and parents shared and the issues the team members observed and will begin to develop some preliminary ideas about how to address the needs of the minor and family. The case planning meeting will be a shared discussion of these issues with the family so that a consensus can be achieved regarding the case plan. The following individuals may be involved in the development of the case plan, though in the interest of not overwhelming the minor and parents, not all may be present for the case-planning meeting:
- 8% Deputy Probation Officer (DPO)
- 8% Supervising Probation Officer (SPO)
- Deputy Probation Counselor(s)
- Department of Education staff
- Intensive in-home services
- Mental Health staff
- Social Services staff
- Drug/alcohol abuse services staff
- Health care staff [Page 123]
- Community resource collaborative staff (restorative justice, parent education, recreational programs)
- Law enforcement
- Community support/case advocate
The case plan will include the identification of issues and an action plan for the minor and his or her parents and siblings. The action plan for the minor will focus on three general areas with the specific action steps tailored to the needs of the minor. These include
- Community safety
- Competency development
The action plan for the parents will focus on family strengthening by reducing or eliminating:
- The issues that impede the parents’ ability to provide adequate supervision and control
- Criminal family influence
- The potential for family violence
- Sources of family stress (e.g., substance abuse, lack of employment, illness, marital discord, etc.)
The action plan for the siblings will focus on:
- Competency development
- Health issues
- Mental health issues
- Education issues
Control group: Based on the case classification, the DPO will establish regular contacts with the minor and family. The following are the minimum contact standards for cases based on their Risk/Needs classification:
High cases: 2 face to face contacts per month Medium cases: 1 face to face contact per month Low cases: 1 face to face contact every 90 days Institutional commitments: No contact until pending release
Experimental group (8% Early Intervention Program): The DPO serves the role of case manager for the entire family. The following are the minimum and ideal DPO contact standards for cases supervised by the 8% Early Intervention Program regardless of case classification level (i.e., High, Medium or Low) to monitor the implementation of the case plan for the minor and family:
Minimum Ideal Field 1X per week 2X per week Parent 1X per week 2X per week 2X per month phone 4X per month 2X per month home 4X per month School Daily if at YFRC Same 2–4X per month if off-site 4X per month Home 1 or 2X per week 2X per week Office 1X per month 2X per month Juvenile institutions JH or YGC 2X per month 2 × per month JYC or LP 1X per month 1 × per month 1 phone contact 1 phone contact
In order to implement the action, a service plan will be developed for the minor and his/her family. The Service Plan will include some or all of the following program components:
[Page 127]Case Reassessment
- Education: Each minor will be enrolled in a school program that best meets his or her needs and will be referred for appropriate diagnostic services if questions arise about educational needs:
- Comprehensive school
- Alternative education
- Private school
- Independent Study
- Day school program provided at the Youth and Family Resource Center by the Department of Education; transportation provided by Deputy Probation Counselors
- Special services
- Behavioral health (mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and mental functioning): Assessment of probation youth and family with appropriate follow-up services/program linkages, as indicated.[Page 125]
- Competency development: Probation Counselors and Community Resource collaborative staff will provide programming in the following areas:
- Independent living skills: vocational readiness, household management, health and hygiene, acquisition of proper documentation (i.e., social security number and California state identification), familiarization with public transportation, budgeting, bank checking account management, and job seeking.
- Social skills and gang resistance skills: basic social and conversation skills, problem solving skills, recreation skills, and peer resistance skills.
- Development of prosocial values and attachment to conventional institutions through development of a positive peer culture: daily group meetings at the Youth and Family Resource Center which provide a forum to confront delinquent values and for accountability for past behavior, and to help the minors gain an understanding of the ramifications and consequences of their behavior for themselves, their families, and their victims.
- Substance abuse: an 18-week substance abuse curriculum will be made available to minors and families through daily groups and specially scheduled classes.
- Accountability: All Youth and Family Resource Center staff will work together as a team at the center to assist the minor in developing prosocial values and holding the minor accountable for his/her behavior. In addition to the group counseling described above, the Community Resource Collaborative will coordinate activities with community-based organizations to ensure that minors in the program participate in work experiences that are restorative to the community. The minor may also be involved in work activities that permit him/her to pay restitution, if appropriate.
- Recreational, cultural and social activities: Probation Counselors and Community Resource Collaborative staff will develop and supervise appropriate physical education and recreational activities for minors who attend the Youth and Family Resource Center. They [Page 126]will also provide outings on a regular basis and will organize open houses, family picnics, and other activities designed to encourage the relationship building between the minor and his/her family.
- Parent Education and Parent Support Groups: The Community Resource Collaborative will provide a parent education program that will meet at least bimonthly. The program will employ the STEP-Teen curriculum and will continue to recycle through the curriculum so that there will continuously be points of entry for newly admitted families. YFRC staff will provide family counseling on a regular basis both at the Youth and Family Resource Center and in the home.
- Reducing Family Stressors: Families may be experiencing stress for a number of reasons (financial problems, medical problems, mental health problems, marital problems, etc.). As Youth and Family Resource Center staff become aware of these issues, families will receive services or be linked to the appropriate community-based resource. This may include
- Family preservation services, such as intensive in-home intervention
- Mental health services
- Health care education, assessment, intervention, and referral services provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Health Care Agency
- Drug/alcohol abuse services provided by staff from the Health Care Agency
- Financial aid, emergency shelter, and other social services
- Educational assessment and services
- Employment services
- Other services, such as domestic violence counseling
Both experimental and control groups will complete a full reassessment of their cases at 6 month intervals. This reassessment will include:
Case planMonitoring Monthly Service Delivery
Service delivery for both experimental and control cases will be monitored on a monthly basis through the submission of existing routine departmental service activity summaries and service record forms. These include:[Page 128]
DPO supervision logs noting contacts provided for each case
Monthly service summaries provided by service providers
School records on attendance and behavior
Appendix E: Youth and Family Resource Center: Cost Components[Page 129]
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The author prepared this chart for other jurisdictions which have requested cost information on Orange County's program model.[Page 130]
Appendix F: The Repeat Offender Prevention Project: Summary of Program Evaluation Design[Page 131]Program Goals and Objectives
The primary goal of the Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) is to break the escalating pattern of criminal and anti-social behavior that leads to chronic delinquency and, too often, criminal careers. This goal will be accomplished through the provision of support services that are designed to strengthen the family's ability to provide adequate supervision, structure and support for their children and also by providing minors with opportunities to develop skills and competencies that will enable them to lead a successful, law-abiding lifestyle.Sample Selection
Most juvenile referrals to the Probation Department are pre-screened by Probation Intake staff to determine their potential availability for the program. Following wardship declaration, all eligible cases are forwarded to the supervisor of the ROPP for further screening and evaluation. Those cases that are determined to meet the selection criteria will, at this point, be reviewed by departmental research staff, who will assign each case to either the experimental or control group.
The two sample groups will be built as new wards are added to the caseloads. Sample cases will therefore have varying lengths of stay under [Page 132]either form of supervision. By the end of the grant-funding period (June 2001), we will have 18-month comparative data for 85 to 90 youths, 12-month comparative data for 100 to 105 youths, and six-month comparative data for 120 to 125 youths assigned to the experimental and control groups, respectively.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This summary was prepared as an attachment to the Orange County Probation Department's contract with the California Board of Corrections for Repeat Offender Prevention Project funding. The design document has been updated to reflect minor changes since project implementation.Process Evaluation
The Orange County Repeat Offender Prevention Program has been designed to provide an enriched level of assessment and intervention services to both the minor and his or her family. It will be important to determine whether the type, frequency and quality of service provided by the program is demonstrably different from that provided through routine probation supervision.
Two sources of information will be used for process comparison:
- The supervision case plan (updated every 90 days), which identifies the primary program components for both minor and family in relation to specific community security, offender accountability and competency development requirements.
- A standardized Case Tracking form, which records services provided during each program month.
If the program goals can be successfully achieved, the following outcomes are expected to occur more for ROPP minors rather than the control group cases. In terms of short-term outcomes:
- Improvements in the number of days of school attendance
- Improvements in grades
- More education (course) credits earned
- Fewer behavioral incidents (suspensions/expulsions)
- More parental involvement in program—case conferences, contacts with the probation officer, involvement in community resources, participation in parent education, support groups and parent satisfaction ratings
- Minor involved in more pro-social activities—classes completed, community service hours performed, restitution paid
- Reductions in gang association or involvement—compliance with gang terms, fewer subsequent gang-related crimes
- Reductions in runaway or stealing behavior—fewer subsequent incidents [Page 133]
- Reduced use of alcohol or drugs—fewer positive tests and fewer subsequent drug-related crimes
With these short-term outcomes achieved, the following long-term results should follow:
- Fewer new law violations
- Fewer court appearances
- Fewer custody days
- Fewer minors who become adult offenders
A four-person Research Advisory Group has been established to oversee the internal evaluation being conducted by the Research unit of the Orange County Probation Department. This group also provides assistance to the entire statewide ROPP project to improve the consistency of the statewide research effort. The advisory group consists of
- Dr. James Austin, George Washington University
- Susan Turner, RAND Corporation
- Dr. Malcolm Klein, University of Southern California
- Dr. Jill Rosenbaum, California State University, Fullerton
Two-day meetings have been scheduled and will continue through FY 00–01 on a semi-annual basis with Orange as the host county. The Research Advisory Group will also review and comment on Orange County's final ROPP report to the Board of Corrections at the end of this project.
The final research evaluation report shall describe the conduct and findings of all process and outcome evaluation activities, shall comport with the research design and evaluation requirements of WIC Section 749, and shall describe the following in sufficient detail to permit replication of the research by other interested parties:
- Research subjects
- Research design (including identification and method of random assignment of research subjects per WIC Section 746)
- The nature and extent of treatment interventions (for both control and treatment groups, to include required treatment modalities per WIC Section 747, and key intervention strategies per WIC Section 748)
- Program evaluation measures
- All other dependent and independent variables (including those in the common database adopted by all counties participating in the ROPP)
- Data analysis procedures
The format of the report shall include the following sections:
- Background information
- Summary and conclusions
Copies of all data collection instruments (excluding those covered by copyright protection) shall be attached to the report.
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