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Suggestions for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders

Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Rehabilitation efforts are an attempt, through treatment or programming, to stop offenders from continuing to offend. While other preventative programs attempt to sway youth away from getting involved in violence and delinquency before they have done so, rehabilitation programs target youth who have already engaged in delinquent or violent behaviour.

Rehabilitation is also known as tertiary crime prevention Farrington and Welsh, Rehabilitative programs can be provided within or as part of another criminal justice sanction, such as incarceration or probation, but this is not a requirement of rehabilitative programming Lipsey and Cullen, The Great Debate Rehabilitative treatment was a dominant response to criminal offending until concerns began to arise in the s, s and s. Those opposed to rehabilitation questioned the use of discretion afforded to state officials in determining and delivering treatment as a sentence, versus its use as a method of control and discrimination Cullen, During this period, a number of evaluation studies also suggested that rehabilitative efforts were not working.

This trend culminated in Dr. Critics jumped at the challenge to prove that rehabilitation strategies do have promise for example, Palmer, ; Gendreau, ; Cullen, ByMartinson himself reversed his original arguments and noted that positive effects have been shown to occur with a number of different treatment programs Martinson, In a re-analysis of the rehabilitation literature, he notes that.

Nonetheless, the next two decades continued to turn out research that documented the many positive effects of rehabilitative treatment programs for example, Gendreau and Ross, ; Cullen and Gendreau, ; Lab and Whitehead, ; Andrews et al. The most convincing of these studies have come in the form of sophisticated meta-analyses. First we got meta-analyses, then we had meta-analyses of meta-analyses.

Such critics of the treatment approach frequently call for tougher sentences to deter or incapacitate criminals and for greater monitoring of criminal populations through the expansion of law enforcement capacity Ward and Maruna, Many of these individuals argue that governments should divert the monies they currently devote to rehabilitation programming into prison construction and policing.

However, as outlined in this report, most criminological research strongly supports rehabilitation over both deterrence and incapacitation strategies Cullen, It can thus be said with confidence that there is a substantial body of empirical research that supports the notion that rehabilitative efforts can reduce violent and other criminal behaviour. The balance of this paper will be dedicated to this body of research.

A review of the meta-analytic evaluation literature is then provided, followed by a description of some rehabilitation programs that have been shown to reduce recidivism.

Specific recommendations about the implementation of rehabilitation strategies are also reviewed.

Rehabilitation and Control of Juvenile Delinquency Offenders

Please note that this review is most interested in rehabilitation programs that include strategies that target serious violent offenders — including young offenders — who have already been arrested and sentenced to a period of incarceration. However, the available research is not limited to serious and violent youthful offenders. Thus, wherever possible, effects for serious offenders will be explicitly identified. American researchers have been aware of this trend for more than 20 years.

Roberts reports that, during the late s, 78 per cent of Americans felt that rehabilitation should be the primary goal when sentencing youth. Moreover, similar results were found earlier in the s and suggestions for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders in the s, indicating stability in public perceptions of rehabilitation Roberts, Importantly, the general public is particularly supportive of rehabilitation for young offenders.

In a survey of Ontario residents, Varmaas in Doob and Cesaroni, Moreover, the public feels that incapacitation and deterrence is less important for youth than it is for adults Varmaas in Doob and Cesaroni, When asked to rate the importance of rehabilitation as a purpose of youth sentencing, a sample of approximately Ontarians rated rehabilitation as 8.

A separate group of approximately Ontarians was asked the same question with regard to adults and indicated 7. It is possible that the public appreciates the root causes of youth criminality and realizes that the vast majority of young offenders will ultimately return to the community.

The public is aware that we can either address the needs of youthful offenders while they are serving sentences — or simply incarcerate them without treatment and hope that they will be deterred. The answer to this question will be determined next, by reviewing the empirical evidence on rehabilitative efforts.

Traditionally, therefore, the main goal and primary indicator of a successful rehabilitation program is whether program participants achieve a lower suggestions for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders rate than non-participants do.

There are thousands of existing evaluations on rehabilitative efforts Wormith et al. Meta-analytic studies help to overcome this daunting task by synthesizing the results of many studies at once. Meta-analyses first select a sample of evaluation studies that meet certain methodological standards.

Criteria for inclusion in a meta-analysis might include factors like sample size, pre-program and post-program outcomes, the presence of a control group, etc. A study selection process that focuses on methodological rigour and program characteristics ultimately makes it easier to summarize results and compare rehabilitative efforts across time and space. The subsequent process of coding information from individual studies is conducted much like the systematic coding of individual survey responses from a representative sample from the general population see Howell, A larger effect size indicates that there was less recidivism among the treatment groups compared with the control groups.

A negative effect size indicates a negative impact i. Essentially, an effect size is the mean difference between the treatment and control groups Aos et al. The next section of this report reviews the findings from meta-analyses, beginning with three of the most influential meta-analyses to date, which continue to be widely cited in current literature Cullen, The first sample included 45 studies of juvenile treatment that were published in professional journals between and The second sample included 35 additional studies that were conducted between the s and The purpose of the second sample was to analyze the generalizability of the first sample, including the applicability of conclusions to adult correctional populations Andrews et al.

In looking at recidivism for various programs, Andrews et al. The RNR model posits that applying the three principles of risk, need, and responsivity is imperative for effective treatment planning and delivery and hypothesized reductions in offender recidivism.

Criminogenic needs are risk factors that are seen as dynamic or changeable. Examples of criminogenic needs include anti-social attitudes and feelings and negative peer associations.


Static risk factors, such as prior criminal record, are obviously unchangeable Andrews et al. This principle has been criticized by other authors for being circular, because the definition of the principle is essentially the desired outcome as well change in the offender. However, Andrews et al. To test the RNR model, studies included in the meta-analysis were categorized as belonging to one of four types. The first category refers to normal correctional sanctions without rehabilitative programming.

The remaining three types suggestions for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders appropriate service, unspecified service and inappropriate service. Moreover, appropriate and unspecified treatment both showed significant reductions in recidivism when compared with criminal sanctions and inappropriate service. Thus, for example, if for every offender who received criminal sanctions six would recidivate, then only three out of every ten offenders who received appropriate treatment would recidivate.

A few years later, Loeber and Farrington reported on the results of Mark W. Mark Lipsey is one of the leaders in meta-analytical studies and has been commended for continuing to publish numerous methodologically sound studies on rehabilitation Cullen, ; Jones and Wyant, ; Ward and Maruna, Loeber and Farrington described seriously violent youth as those who had committed offences such as homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and kidnapping.

Conclusions were made about the effect sizes in reducing recidivism for both institutionalized and non-institutionalized youth. According to this definition, small effect sizes indicate a reduction in recidivism of up to Among non-institutionalized youth, the authors found that positive rehabilitative effects were larger for youth who had mixed prior offences including offences against personscompared with youth who only had prior suggestions for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders offences Loeber and Farrington, For both institutionalized and non-institutionalized youth, there were larger positive treatment effects detected for longer treatment durations i.

With regard to specific types of programs, Loeber and Farrington found that programs that used interpersonal skills training, behavioural approaches, individual counselling and drug abstinence programs yielded the largest effect sizes on reducing recidivism among non-institutionalized youth. For institutionalized youth, it was found that the largest effect sizes for reductions in recidivism occurred with interpersonal skills training, cognitive-behavioural programs and teaching family homes Loeber and Farrington, In addition, institutionalized programs yielded larger positive effects when program implementation was monitored, compared with when it was not; programs were older than two years; and programs used mental health personnel instead of criminal justice personnel to deliver the treatment Loeber and Farrington, Among both non-institutionalized and institutionalized youth, moderate effect sizes in recidivism reductions were found in programs that offered multiple services.

For non-institutionalized youth, restitution programs were also found to provide moderate effect sizes, while among institutionalized youth, moderate effect sizes were found in programs that offered community residential programs, group counselling, individual services, and guided group therapy Loeber and Farrington, However, both Lipsey and Wilson and Andrews et al. In essence, this means that when compared with community-based programs, institutionalized programs have been found to be less effective.

Although Lipsey and Wilson and Andrews et al. They did discuss whether this may have had something to do with differences between offenders in the two groups, differences in the treatment itself, or the inherent differences in the treatment environment Lipsey and Cullen, Greenwood identifies three problems with residential treatment, with the first two aiding in understanding why treatment is less effective in these settings. Firstly, putting groups of serious offending youth together paves the way for them to support each other in delinquent behaviour.

Secondly, residential programs often create an artificial environment, thus making it difficult for youth to apply what they learn in real-world situations.

Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews

Returning to Loeber and Farringtonfor programs that did not work, they reported that among institutionalized youth, employment-related suggestions for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and drug abstinence programs all had little or no effect on recidivism.

For non-institutionalized offenders, deterrence programs e. Furthermore, other studies have supported the finding that some programs increase recidivism for non-institutionalized serious and violent youth, such as deterrence programs e. A subsequent meta-analysis by Lipsey combined the results of over studies on juvenile treatment programs in institutionalized settings and community-based settings.

Youth who were exposed to interventions reported significantly lower recidivism rates. Further analysis of 83 interventions for institutionalized young offenders found that programs that helped build interpersonal skills and offered behavioural programs and multiple services continued to be effective in these settings as well as in community residential programs Jones and Wyant, As in the study, Lipsey found that programs that were longer than six months, were provided by a non-justice provider, were properly implemented and had been in existence for more than two years all contributed to significantly reducing recidivism.

Over all, the programs with the best program features could reduce recidivism to 40 per cent to 50 per cent of what it would be without programming Lipsey,as cited in Jones and Wyant, Hence, if recidivism were to occur for 50 per cent of offenders without treatment, then the best-case scenario for treatment effects would reduce this figure by up to half, or 25 per cent.

More recent meta-analyses have continued to echo findings similar to what has been reported by Andrews et al.

Youth Prisons Don’t Work. Here’s What Does.

The findings on these types of factors are discussed next. The need for treatment initiatives to maintain program integrity, or the delivering of programs as they were designed, seems like a common sense issue: Factors such as resource scarcity and variation between treatment counsellors can contribute to the low integrity of treatment programs.

Recall that Loeber and Farrington reported larger effects when the program implementation was monitored in correctional settings. Some studies indicate that programs that are not implemented properly have the potential to do more harm such as result in more violence than no treatment at all Webster, Hence, if a program cannot be delivered as designed due to financial or other constraints, it is best not to make modifications to try and keep it running.

When examining family interventions, one researcher discovered an important relationship between treatment effects and voluntary treatment. Latimer examined family interventions through a meta-analysis of 35 published and unpublished studies conducted between and