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Appendix E

Colleen Holman HSP 385 Winter 2012 Review of Literature

Throughout the United States courts have implemented alternative processes designed to deal with first time juvenile offenders. The overall purpose of these programs has been to reach youth who have not committed serious offenses and assist them in getting their lives headed in a more productive direction. While such programs can be found all over the United States, they vary on their primary focus and their claims to success have been questioned. An area for further study would be an assessment of how these programs benefit youth and their families. It would also be beneficial to confirm if such programs reduce the incidence of repeat offenses.

In their study, Bechard, Ireland, Berg, and Vogel (2010) take a look at a California program that claims to be making significant gains. Their study is a follow-up to a 1986 study (Berg). In his 1986 study Berg coined the phrase net-widening to refer to widening the net of social control such that more and more minor offenses (or no offense at all) are now being processed formally by police and the juvenile justice system (Sheldon, 2004, p. 1 as quoted by Bechard et al.). In the more recent study Bechard et al. report the program aimed at at-risk youth fails to actually reach the targeted population of youth. Instead, it captures in its nets what may better be termed mischievous youth, rather than predelinquent or those youth who

Appendix E
seem genuinely at risk of further delinquent or criminal behaviors (p. 606). A further look at the assessment procedures may indicate a better option to reach the desired population.

In a different approach to reducing recidivism, Lancaster, Balkin, Garcia, and Valarezo report, A statistically significant effect was noted in recidivism rates among youth who received counseling as part of their court sanctions. Lancaster et al., (2011) states, The youth in the treatment group participated in a psychoeducational counseling group with a life skills emphasis. The content of group sessions was organized around several analogous life skills including identifying feelings, triggers to anger and other feelings/emotions, healthy coping skills, stress management, healthy communication, familial patterns, building self-esteem, and substance abuse (Lancaster et al., p. 490). This study involved exclusively Latino population. While it was a valid representation of this particular demographic area, it would be interesting to widen the research to include a wider racial population.

Many successful programs aimed at making an impact on youth seem to share a commonality in that they place a value on interagency cooperation. Nissen (2011) writes, (Programs) made the most progress when there was strong judicial leadership as well as commitment and leadership from juvenile probation commitment regarding the importance of broadening resources and partners for the benefit of youth, and when the staffs of core partner agencies had a deep commitment to a strengthbased approach (p. 526). In a similar study Mason, Chapman, Chang, and Simons explain that (A program) was designed to impact the goals and attitudes of the entire justice system. Specifically, the objective was to increase the degree to which defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and police officers considered the
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Appendix E
developmental status of youth charged with crimes, as well as the contextual basis for their behavior and their potential for rehabilitation (p. 206). The training provided was aimed at defense lawyers, social workers, judges, prosecutors, police, and other concerned individuals regarding the importance of considering developmental factors when sentencing youth or making sentencing recommendations. It was believed that such a shift in focus would result in not only an increase in juvenile sanctions, but also lower recidivism rates among those youth who receive juvenile sanctions (Mason et al., 2003).

Programs that can incorporate skill building with community volunteerism seem to have the most impact on youth. These programs provide the opportunity for youth to interact with adults in the community and see how their actions impact others, but they also get to see that there are caring members of their community that want to see them succeed. Cowell, Lattimore and Krebs research concludes, Policy makers and service providers at all levels recognize that programs capable of meeting the needs of juvenile offenders benefit both the participating youth and communities (p. 258, 2010).

While programs have costs associated with them, studies such as the one by Cowell et al., (2010) indicate the long term costs appear to level out because youth who have gone through treatment (or counseling etc.) complete the program and no longer need services, whereas youth who simply face court sanctions remain an expense to taxpayers while they are under court supervision and often commit additional criminal offenses . Future research should reflect the true costs of the intended program, such as Cowell et al., and should also provide a broader assessment of full program expenses.
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References

Bchard, S., Ireland, C., Berg, B., & Vogel, B. (2011). Arbitrary arbitration: Diverting juveniles into the justice system-A reexamination after 22 years. International Journal of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 55(4), 605-625. doi:10.1177/0306624X10363265 Bchard, Ireland, Berg, and Vogel (2011) Cowell, A. J., Lattimore, P. K., & Krebs, C. P. (2010). A cost-benefit study of a breaking the cycle program for juveniles. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 47(2), 241 -262. doi:10.1177/0022427809357717 Mason, C. A., Chapman, D. A., Chang, S., & Simons, J. (2003). Impacting re-arrest rates among youth sentenced in adult court: An epidemiological examination of the juvenile sentencing advocacy project. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32(2), 205-214. doi:10.1207/S15374424JCCP3202_5 McBride, D. C., Terry-McElrath, Y. M., VanderWaal, C. J., Chriqui, J. F., & Myllyluoma, J. (2008). US public health agency involvement in youth-focused illicit drug policy, planning, and prevention at the local level, 19992003. American Journal of Public Health, 98(2), 270-277. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.112524 Nissen, L. B. (2011). Community-directed engagement and positive youth development: Developing positive and progressive pathways between youth and their communities in Reclaiming

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Futures. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(1), S23-S28. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.06.009 Sheldon, R. G. (2004). Resurrecting radical non-intervention: Stop the war on kids. Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Available from www.cjcj.org