6

Preventing Reoffending

A core function of the juvenile justice system is to prevent reoffending by adolescents who have committed acts that would be considered crimes if committed by adults. Even if the court is an active partner in the broad prevention activities of the community, it will retain the primary responsibility for responding to adolescents who were not prevented from engaging in illegal behavior. Whether imposing sanctions or providing services, the court will continue to determine the type and intensity of interventions for the adolescents and families that come before it.

Whether the court can reduce reoffending depends on its ability to accomplish two interrelated tasks. Effectiveness lies in the system’s ability to (a) intervene with the right adolescent offenders and (b) use the right type and amount of intervention. Achieving this ideal, or at least moving toward it, requires the court to examine its methods for assessing adolescents at different points of contact with the system, its thresholds and approaches for intervening in their lives, and how court resources and practices can promote the core task of preventing reoffending.

As explained in Chapter 5, consideration of the unique capacities and needs of adolescents is a necessary starting point for designing a theoretically coherent, just, and effective juvenile justice system. It is thus appropriate to consider how knowledge about adolescent development can be applied to the prevention of reoffending. In this chapter, we consider how efforts to keep juvenile offenders from continuing criminal activity might be extended and refined by consideration of advancing knowledge regarding adolescent development.



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6 Preventing Reoffending A core function of the juvenile justice system is to prevent reoffending by adolescents who have committed acts that would be considered crimes if committed by adults. Even if the court is an active partner in the broad prevention activities of the community, it will retain the primary responsi- bility for responding to adolescents who were not prevented from engaging in illegal behavior. Whether imposing sanctions or providing services, the court will continue to determine the type and intensity of interventions for the adolescents and families that come before it. Whether the court can reduce reoffending depends on its ability to accomplish two interrelated tasks. Effectiveness lies in the system’s ability to (a) intervene with the right adolescent offenders and (b) use the right type and amount of intervention. Achieving this ideal, or at least moving toward it, requires the court to examine its methods for assessing adolescents at different points of contact with the system, its thresholds and approaches for intervening in their lives, and how court resources and practices can promote the core task of preventing reoffending. As explained in Chapter 5, consideration of the unique capacities and needs of adolescents is a necessary starting point for designing a theoreti- cally coherent, just, and effective juvenile justice system. It is thus appro- priate to consider how knowledge about adolescent development can be applied to the prevention of reoffending. In this chapter, we consider how efforts to keep juvenile offenders from continuing criminal activity might be extended and refined by consideration of advancing knowledge regarding adolescent development. 139

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140 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE GENERAL RISK AND SERIOUS ADOLESCENT OFFENDING Intervening with adolescent offenders to prevent continued offending would be a relatively straightforward task if one could identify those who would be chronic, serious, and/or violent offenders early in their offend- ing careers and correct the factors that were most influential in producing this pattern of behavior. As noted in Chapter 1, however, this amounts to predicting and intervening to stop a relatively rare event; serious, vio- lent, chronic adolescent offenders are a small proportion of the general adolescent offending population. This group is both proportionately and numerically quite small, and when the focus is restricted to the most seri- ous delinquent offenders, for example, the chronically violent offender, it is exceedingly small (Snyder, 1998). In addition, the markers that differentiate this group cleanly at the start of their offending careers are rather limited in their predictive power.1 The power of a risk marker to predict future arrest or the impact of an intervention to reduce the likelihood of future arrest is often depicted in terms of an “effect size.” An effect size is a metric that can be compared across multiple studies; it indicates how much impact a particular risk vari- able or intervention has on whether an individual is arrested. It is useful for comparing results across studies because, unlike indicators of statistical significance, it is less affected by the size of the samples examined. In the studies of interventions considered later in the chapter, the effect size indi- cates the average observed difference in arrest rate between a treated group and a comparison group. If a study indicates that a treated group has an arrest rate of 25 percent and the comparison group has an arrest rate of 35 percent, that intervention has an effect size of .10, a 10 percent lower rate of rearrest. Effect sizes across multiple studies are examined using a technique called meta-analysis, which uses regression approaches to identify aspects of programs that are related to larger or smaller effect sizes among the pool of studies examined. 1  The term “risk marker” is used throughout this section. This is in keeping with the dis- tinction made by Kraemer and colleagues (1997), in which a marker has a documented asso­ ciation with a later outcome, and a factor has substantiation that the observed association with the later outcome is causal (i.e., changing the risk factor has been shown to reduce the likelihood of the outcome). Overwhelmingly, the research on risk for future delinquency has demonstrated the presence of risk markers, with much less evidence that these risk indica- tors are risk factors related to later delinquency. The literature uses these terms loosely and interchangeably. The wording used here is believed to be reflective of the general state of the literature, and further specific distinctions would be distracting.

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 141 PREDICTING SERIOUS DELINQUENCY Over the years, a number of studies have examined risk markers for or predictors of serious delinquency, chronic offending, and violent delin- quency. Several excellent summaries of that literature exist (Hawkins et al., 1998; Lipsey and Derzon, 1998; Biglan et al., 2004; Farrington and Welsh, 2007). Lipsey and Derzon (1998, p. 88), using meta-analytic techniques, identified 793 effect sizes from 66 reports of 34 independent studies, and Hawkins and colleagues (1998) identified 39 studies and provided a sub- stantive summary of the identified risk markers. Summarizing the rather voluminous findings from these reviews in a short space is a difficult task. For an overview, see Table 6-1. This table shows the largest effect sizes for particular risk markers at different ages. As the table shows, the identified risk markers cut across a number of developmental domains, including prior offending and aggres- sion, as well as peer, family, and school factors. Hawkins and colleagues (1998) also found significant risk markers in all of the developmental domains they examined: individual, family, school, peer, and community. To illustrate their findings, we summarize risk markers from the area of the family: “Within the family, living with a criminal parent or parents, harsh discipline, physical abuse and neglect, poor family management practices, low levels of parent involvement with the child, high levels of family con- flict, parental attitudes favorable to violence, and separation from family have all been linked to later violence” (Hawkins et al., 1998, p. 146). We can draw several important conclusions from the results presented in these and other reviews. First, there is no single risk marker that is very strongly associated with serious delinquency. As is true of other problem behaviors, there are multiple risk markers drawn from multiple domains, each of which, alone, is only modestly related to these outcomes. In other words, there is no single solution on which to focus efforts to prevent serious delinquency. This behavior pattern appears to come about from the accumulation of risk across many domains (Hawkins et al., 1998; Lipsey and Derzon, 1998; Biglan et al., 2004; Farrington and Welsh, 2007; Howell, 2009). Second, risk for serious delinquency is generated across multiple devel- opmental stages from infancy through childhood and into adolescence, with risk markers at each stage making contributions to the origins of seri- ous delinquency. Although early risk markers have a role to play, they are clearly not determinative of these outcomes. However, early risk markers are predictive of the development of new risk markers for delinquency at subsequent ages. For example, risk indicators during early childhood, such as increased aggression and hyperactivity, are predictive of peer rejection and either peer isolation or attachment to delinquent peers; both of these

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142 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE TABLE 6-1  Ranking of Ages 6-11 and Ages 12-14 Predictors of Violent or Serious Delinquency at Ages 15-25 Ages 6-11 Predictor (r) Ages 12-14 Predictor (r) Rank 1 Group General offenses (.38) Social ties (.39) Substance use (.30) Antisocial peers (.37) Rank 2 Group Gender (male) (.26) General offenses (.26) Family socioeconomic status (.24) Antisocial parents (.23) Rank 3 Group Aggression (.21) Aggression (.19) Ethnicity (.20) School attitude/performance (.19) Psychological condition (.19) Parent-child relations (.19) Gender (male) (.19) Physical violence (.18) Rank 4 Group Psychological condition (.15) Antisocial parents (.16) Parent-child relations (.15) Person crimes (.14) Social ties (.15) Problem behavior (.12) Problem behavior (.13) IQ (.11) School attitude/performance (.13) Medical/physical (.13) IQ (.12) Other family characteristics (.12) Rank 5 Group Broken home (.09) Broken home (.10) Abusive parents (.07) Family socioeconomic status (.10) Antisocial peers (.04) Abusive parents (.09) Other family characteristics (.08) Substance use (.06) Ethnicity (.04) SOURCE: Lipsey and Derzon (1998). place a child at increased risk for delinquent behavior during puberty and adolescence (Biglan et al., 2004). Third, there is no evidence that there are unique risk markers associ- ated with serious delinquency, chronic delinquency, or violent delinquency. The risk markers listed in Table 6-1 and the illustrative family risk markers from the Hawkins and colleagues (1998) review quoted above have been linked to general delinquency, conduct disorder, substance use, and a host of other adolescent problem behaviors, as well as to serious delinquency

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 143 (Lorion et al., 1987; Farrington, 1989; Yoshikawa, 1994; Catalano and Hawkins, 1996; Biglan et al., 2004). Other studies of risk markers for serious delinquency reached simi- lar conclusions. Porter and colleagues (1999) used data from the three p ­ rojects of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Pro- gram of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency in Denver, P ­ ittsburgh, and Rochester. They compared three groups—nonoffenders, general but nonviolent delinquents, and violent delinquents—on 19 risk m ­ arkers representing 7 domains—community, family structural character- istics, parent-child relations, school, peers, individual, and problem behav- ­ iors. They conclude that “there is not a different set of risk factors for serious violent offenders . . . [but] the serious violent offenders have greater deficits, or more extreme scores, on many of these risk factors as compared to general delinquents [and] are also more likely to experience risk in mul- tiple domains” (Porter et al., 1999, p. 15). More recently, Esbensen and col- leagues (2010) examined risk markers for serious delinquency in a sample of 5,935 eighth graders drawn from 11 different communities throughout the United States. They compared nonoffenders to nonviolent offenders and to serious violent offenders across 18 risk markers. In general, level of risk increased from nonoffenders to nonviolent offenders to violent offenders, but the differences appeared to be a matter of degree rather than kind. Similar results were also found when examining a high-risk sample of adolescents from Los Angeles (MacDonald, Haviland, and Morral, 2009). Once again, frequent and violent offenders differed from nonviolent and low-rate offenders, not in the presence of certain risk markers, but rather in that frequent and violent offenders had higher than average values across their baseline assessment of risk markers for delinquency, such as delin- quent peers, family criminality, and substance use. Comparing Delinquents and Nonoffenders Few studies directly compare serious delinquents to both general delin- quents and nonoffenders. Among those that do, however, the weight of the available evidence suggests that serious delinquents are influenced by the same risk markers and developmental processes as other youth. Some preliminary evidence of associations between neuropsychological or physi- ological indicators and serious adolescent offending exists (e.g., Cauffman, Steinberg, and Piquero, 2005), but there is no body of evidence of which we are aware to indicate that serious delinquents are qualitatively differ- ent from other delinquents who are involved in the juvenile justice system. They do commit more offenses and some more violent offenses, but that is because they appear to experience a greater accumulation of risk markers in comparison to others. But the individual risk markers that they experience,

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144 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE such as impulsivity and risk taking, family distress, school failure, and peer influence, are, by and large, similar to those experienced by all youth caught up in delinquent behavior and in the juvenile justice system. More serious offenders may well experience more powerful and prevalent environmental influences, such as neighborhood disorder or deviant peer involvement, and these in turn may exacerbate existing intraindividual vulnerabilities for involvement in antisocial behavior. The processes by which these contextual and individual risk characteristics interact to increase the risk of criminal involvement, however, appear more similar than different among serious, nonserious, and nonoffending adolescents. It is important to note that the findings summarized above and in Table 6-1 are inherently limited, in light of new, possible risk markers that might be examined if this type of research were done today. When the ref- erenced studies were conducted, there was little awareness of the wide range of biological, neuropsychological, or psychosocial variables that might be considered as highly relevant to adolescent development. Examination of these new constructs of interest might elucidate powerful interactions or moderated effects that simply were not imagined as relevant when the reviewed studies were conducted. IMPLICATIONS FOR DEVELOPING STRATEGIES The above findings are nonetheless relevant for developing strategies for assessing and intervening with adolescent offenders. First, there is cur- rently no clearly applicable approach for identifying the adolescent offender who will go on to commit the most horrific and troubling crimes. Hindsight often makes it seem like these adolescents must be readily detectable, but foresight for doing so has not been found (Mulvey, Schubert, and Odgers, 2010). Adolescent offenders differ on a gradient of risk for future offend- ing, with no distinct set of risk markers associated with the most serious and chronic offending, and approaches that use this general framework for risk have the most solid empirical basis. In addition, the risk markers associated with future offending, either serious and chronic or not, cover a broad array of personal and social features and differ with developmental period. This means that interventions limited to just one “key” factor dur- ing a limited period of development are likely to have an equally limited sustained impact on reoffending. This does not mean that secondary prevention efforts to reduce involve- ment in antisocial activities and future offending are for naught. Multiple effective prevention strategies for working with troubled and troubling youth have been shown to have positive effects (Office of the Surgeon General, 2001). The implication of the above findings about the limited specificity of risk markers is that interventions of this sort will have only

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 145 so much usefulness forestalling future offending, despite notable positive effects. Without the ability to identify the most serious juvenile offenders cleanly, prevention efforts will necessarily enroll and treat a proportion of adolescents who would otherwise have had a trouble-free adolescence in the absence of the intervention and will overlook another proportion who will become serious, chronic, or violent adolescents at a later developmental stage. The challenge of assessing adolescent offenders regarding the most reasonable level and type of intervention once they have come to the atten- tion of the juvenile justice system remains unsolved. ASSESSING RISK OF FUTURE CRIME AND NEED FOR SERVICE INTERVENTION Many areas of health and social service practice have come to rely more on actuarial methods for screening and assessing individuals. These meth- ods include checklists to identify particular problems for further assess- ment and structured protocols to determine the severity of a problem (e.g., screens for depression in primary care practices [Zuckerbrot et al., 2007], instruments for assessing intimate partner or sexual violence [Basile, Hertz, and Back, 2007; Rabin et al., 2009]). In some instances, structured instru- ments are used to assess the readiness of an individual to leave a restrictive environment or to identify potentially high-risk individuals if grave out- comes, such as imminent serious violence, might be avoided by admission into an institutional environment. Structured risk assessments have even made their way into court deliberations about the imposition of specialized laws, such as violent sexual predator statutes. Use of Risk/Needs Assessment Instruments Actuarial or structured professional judgment measures have also become more commonplace throughout the juvenile justice system. Deten- tion screening instruments are now often used to determine an adolescent’s risk of failing to appear in court or of committing another criminal act if released into the community. In addition, screening instruments for mental disorders have become a standard instrument used at detention intake to identify adolescents with incipient mental health problems (Desai et al., 2006). Finally, beginning in the 1980s, instruments for assessing the risk of reoffending by adjudicated adolescent offenders have also permeated practice in many locales, as a way for communities to establish a consensus ­ about the appropriate threshold for sending an adolescent to institutional placement (Baird, Storrs, and Connelly, 1984; Wiebush et al., 1995). Many locales have developed slightly modified versions of early struc- tured approaches, and a limited number of these have been validated and

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146 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE received widespread distribution (Howell, 2003a). Researchers continue to refine assessment instruments by exploring innovative algorithms for iden- tifying subgroups of offenders with differing levels of risk for reoffending (Grann and Langstrom, 2007; Yang, Liu, and Coid, 2010; Walters, 2011), and focusing on predicting reoffending in special populations of juvenile offenders (e.g., juvenile sex offenders) (Prentky and Righthand, 2003). Several initiatives (e.g., MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change) have promoted the use of structured instruments as a method to increase juve- nile justice efficiency and effectiveness by limiting institutional placement to adolescents who are most likely to reoffend and investing intervention resources in those adolescents for whom they will make the most difference. Newer juvenile assessment instruments consider not only risk of reoffend­ng, but also attempt to identify the needs of the adolescent that i might be addressed with interventions. The intent of these instruments is to go beyond calculating a single score of how likely a juvenile might be to r ­ eoffend, and acknowledge that risk of reoffending is not a fixed attribute of the adolescent, but rather a partially contextually dependent estimate that might be lowered by particular interventions, monitoring in the com- munity, or changes in life situation. Newer structured risk/needs instru- ments include an assessment of potential protective factors or treatment needs that might be considered when planning interventions (Andrews and Bonta, 1995; Wiebush et al., 1995; Dembo et al., 1996; Hoge, Andrews, and Leschied, 1996), as well as an assessment of the adolescent’s likely responsivity to interventions for these identified needs (Kennedy, 2000). In line with the review of the risk marker literature cited above, most risk/needs instruments include an array of factors to consider, cover­ng i such considerations as prior offending history, family history of criminal- ity, school performance, current peer associations, and antisocial atti- tudes. Based on the level of overall risk, an adolescent could be considered for more or less intensive services (e.g., institutional placement or com- munity supervision). If appropriate dynamic risk factors for offending could be identified and assessed adequately, interventions for a particular adolescent could then be based on the number and type of dynamic fac- tors related to continued offending. For example, an adolescent with high antisocial attitudes and levels of offending could be considered a good candidate for cognitive interventions aimed at altering these attitudes or promoting positive social skills, or an adolescent with a drug and alcohol problem might be considered a candidate for positive community adjust- ment if these issues can be addressed effectively. These methods, if built into an ongoing system of readministration and monitoring of services, hold considerable promise for assessing whether an adolescent offender has received appropriate services and whether intermediate goals of the interventions have been met.

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 147 Integrating Assessments and Case Management Methods for integrating the findings from structured risk/needs assess- ments with case management planning and implementation have been developed (e.g., Bonta, 2002), but the effectiveness of these strategies is untested. The development of risk/needs instruments is instead at an early stage of sorting out whether it has identified the dynamic predictors of risk most associated with offending and the needs that will really make a differ- ence if they are the targets of intervention (Baird, 2009). The groundwork for a more systematic assessment of risk and needs in juvenile offenders has been laid, but there is considerable work to be done on further development of instruments and application of these instruments to improve practice. Risk/needs assessment instruments perform well for assigning adoles- cent offenders to groups with different likelihoods of future offending, and the predictive accuracy of these approaches has increased as refinements have been developed (Andrews, Bonta, and Wormith, 2006; Howell, 2009). The proportion of youth screened who will be classified high, medium, or low risk will vary depending on the sample examined and the cutoffs deemed acceptable in each locale. The use of risk/needs assessment instru- ments in the earlier phases of juvenile justice involvement will gain most of their predictive power from identifying “true negatives”—adolescents who have a low probability of continued offending. Across studies of adolescents on probation, the correlations between risk assessment scores and involve- ment in subsequent criminal offending are between .25 and .30 (Schwalbe, 2004, 2008a), with slightly higher associations (r = .41 for general delin- quency) reported for the use of the Youth Level of Service/Case Manage- ment Inventory in some studies (Andrews, Bonta, and Wormith, 2006). Even given the modesty of these associations, these instruments do provide adequate guidance for the important task of identifying adolescent offend- ers who warrant more intensive intervention or supervision and those who should be diverted from intervention programs (Wiebush, 2002; Latessa, 2004; DeComo and Wiebush, 2005; Grisso, Vincent, and Seagrave, 2005; Borum and Verhaagen, 2006; Gottfredson and Moriarty, 2006a). Predicting and Managing Risk The introduction of risk/need assessment is a significant shift in how juvenile justice conceptualizes the potential impact of court involvement. This approach implies a more dynamic view of juvenile justice involve- ment, looking at both static and dynamic factors that might be relevant to reoffending. It reflects a shift in thinking more generally among service providers about the need to move from predicting risk to managing risk in certain populations, like individuals with mental illness who are involved

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148 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE in violence (Mulvey and Lidz, 1998; Douglas and Skeem, 2005). It is also congruent with the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) approach taken in cor- rectional rehabilitation (Andrews and Bonta, 2010; Skeem, Manchak, and Peterson, 2011). This orientation puts less stock in determining categories of offenders and places greater emphasis on the malleable factors that might contribute to continued criminal involvement. Current Challenges The orientation described above opens up the possibility for proba- tion staff or the court to match adolescents more effectively with spe- cialized treatment providers and for the court to monitor the provision of appropriate services. This latter task is rarely done effectively by the courts and represents perhaps the most fundamental payoff from advances in the assessment of adolescent offenders. Valid methods exist for assessing the risk of reoffending and intervention needs; the current challenge is to incorporate these effectively into standard court and probation practice. Clarifying Outcomes. Integrating these instruments effectively into routine practice requires clarification of the mechanisms related to community service provision, reoffending, and subsequent systems involvement. In both research and practice, a variety of outcomes are often considered when determining the ideas of “risk” and “need” as well as the connection between these two concepts. Some instruments are developed to indicate the risk of being returned to a particular institutional setting during pro- gram involvement; others are developed to indicate the risk of rearrest or the general risk for multiple possible negative outcomes (e.g., dropping out of school) in some time period after program involvement. Moreover, the nexus of the particular need assessed (e.g., mental health disorder) and future offending is often more assumed than demonstrated (Grisso, 2008). Instruments thus often indicate risk markers that might or might not be appropriate foci for intervention or the need for services that might or might not actually reduce the likelihood of reoffending for that adolescent. The Potential for Bias. It is worth noting that the most commonly used instruments are developed with rearrest or reconviction as the only rel- evant outcomes. These instruments thus provide estimates of the likelihood of detection, apprehension, and prosecution for illegal acts, not involve- ment in illegal activity. Given the well-documented patterns of selective law enforcement, gender differences in processing, and disproportionate minority contact (DMC), this means that risk/needs instruments might be conflating risk with the ongoing biases in the juvenile justice system and enforcing the status quo in juvenile justice processing. The potential for the

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 149 application of risk/need assessments to propagate system inequities seems to exist, although there is no available research that documents whether this possibility actually occurs. Limited research on racial/ethnic and gender differences in risk/need and screening instruments has indicated different proportions of risk clas- sifications and different patterns of problem identification by race/ethnicity and gender, as well as differential rates of rearrest and service involvement (Schwalbe et al., 2006; Schwalbe, Fraser, and Day, 2007; Vincent et al., 2008; Onifade, Davidson, and Campbell, 2009; Vincent, Chapman, and Cook, 2011; Baglivio and Jackowski, 2012; Desai et al., 2012). The amount and type of bias in assessment and processing in the juvenile justice system con- nected with the use of these instruments, however, has not been adequately documented. This research is a high priority, because the application of these instruments has become (and will become even more) widespread. While the application of risk/need and screening instruments is a clear improvement over unfettered discretion, there is a long way to go in determining the unin- tended, and possibly harmful, effects connected with their use. Need for Monitoring. Putting these instruments into practice thus requires a collaborative process in which practice professionals, researchers, and policy makers/administrators come to a consensus about the reasons for adoption of risk/needs instruments as well as the procedures and expecta- tions regarding the use of these instruments (Howell, 2009). Effective use of structured screening and assessment procedures implies changes beyond simply the agreement to endorse the use of a previously developed mea- sure. The process of integrating risk/need principles involves an ongoing examination of how courts process adolescents with different risk profiles and monitoring of how dispositions and interventions fit the risk profile of adolescents coming to different decision points in the juvenile justice system (Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1996; National Conference of State Legislatures, 1996; Howell, 2009). By monitoring the appropriateness of the court actions taken and the inter- ventions provided, a local juvenile justice system can implement a system of graduated sanctions, assigning more intensive interventions to the most serious adolescent offenders with the most cumulative risk. Potential of Risk/Need Assessment Systems There are two benefits of developing systems of risk/need assessment at critical points in the juvenile justice system. First, the introduction of these methods reduces idiosyncratic decision making, increasing the uniformity of juvenile justice practice. Unstructured decision making introduces individ- ual biases and contextual influences that generally lower the overall accu-

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172 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE to conduct a benefit-cost analysis are themselves uncertain.7 The Washing- ton State Institute for Public Policy’s (2011) recent analyses, however, take this uncertainty into account in calculating their costs and benefits. They use Monte Carlo methods, repeating the computations under thousands of variations to test the sensitivity of the overall findings to the inherent uncertainty of the underlying parameters. Columns 3 and 4 of Table 6-2 show the best point estimates of benefits and costs, using these methods. The Monte Carlo results in the last column of Table 6-2 imply that one can be highly confident that aggression replacement therapy, family integrated transitions, functional family therapy, multisystemic therapy, and victim offender mediation are successful programs from a benefit-cost perspective. The probabilities that these approaches pass a benefit-cost test are all at least .86. Most exceed .90. The probabilities are somewhat lower for drug courts and coordination of services (.80 and .78), but one can still be quite confident that both are successful. Because WSIPP uses Washington data to estimate changes in crime and the costs of the criminal justice system, the findings on program application from this locale are technically not generalizable to other states or to the nation as a whole. Washington’s crime and the costs of its criminal justice system, however, in all likelihood do not differ substantially from those of other states, and the application of these findings to other locales is prob- ably appropriate. Indeed, even if the savings in criminal justice costs and the benefits to victims (not shown separately in the table) were both 25 percent smaller, all programs that pass a benefit-cost test in WSIPP’s analysis would still pass by a wide margin in this adjusted analysis. WSIPP’s findings pro- vide reliable guidance for other states and localities. Seven other types of programs examined in Drake and colleagues (2009) also generate benefits to victims and the criminal justice system, as shown in the lower panel of Table 6-2. Four of the seven have benefits exceeding $40,000 per participant, so they are likely to pass a benefit-cost test. We cannot draw this conclusion with certainty, however, because WSIPP had not computed cost estimates at the time of publication. WSIPP is currently developing a tool that other jurisdictions can use to derive benefit-cost estimates of criminal justice programs (Aos and Drake, 2010). The tool will allow analysts to use crime and cost data for their jurisdictions and vary the assumptions needed to compute cost savings. 7  Suppose an evaluation reports that a program reduced crime by 12 percent, with a stan- dard error of 1.4. This means that although the most likely impact is 12 percent, there is a 95 percent chance that the true impact lies between 9.3 and 14.7 percent. Similarly, estimates of program costs, estimates of victim costs, and the methods used by Drake and colleagues (2009) to combine findings from several studies are not perfectly precise.

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 173 Although the program cost estimates in Table 6-2 are essentially com- plete, all benefit estimates are understated for several reasons. These short- comings apply to all other benefit-cost analyses of juvenile justice programs as well. First, although they assess the benefits of less crime to victims and to the justice system (police, prosecutors, courts, parole officers, etc.), they ignore possible benefits to nonvictims (e.g., less fear of being victimized) and to offenders and their families (e.g., increased productivity from sub- stance use treatment). The latter could be especially large if programs help offenders to attain more schooling or reduce the likelihood that younger siblings engage in delinquent acts.8 Second, they count the savings of less crime for the justice system but not for other public or nonprofit agencies that may see savings (e.g., less money spent on mental health hospitaliza- tions). Third, methods for measuring some types of victim costs have not yet been developed.9 Finally, because adolescent behavior, including delin- quency, is heavily influenced by peers, programs that reduce a participant’s delinquency may reduce their peers’ antisocial activities as well. Because program evaluations have not measured this second-round impact on crime, benefit-cost analyses cannot include its benefits.10 Recognizing these reasons why benefits are understated further strength- ens our earlier conclusion: states and localities can invest in a variety of pro- grams for juvenile offenders that, if implemented well, have demonstrated effectiveness for reducing reoffending and pay large dividends. SPECIFIC DETERRENCE So far, we have focused mainly on the role of providing appropriate rehabilitative services to move an adolescent onto a more positive develop- mental track, away from continued offending. Adolescents may also refrain from future offending, however, by simply learning their lesson from their encounter with the juvenile justice system. Being held accountable for an offense may teach an adolescent that his or her own conduct is beyond the bounds of what the community will tolerate and well short of what is 8  For example, if a program raises the probability of completing high school by .10. And in 2009, male high school graduates earned $11,600 and female high school graduates earned $8,900 more per year than those without a degree (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010a, 2010b), then the average increase in earnings would be $1,160 for males and $890 for females. Over a 40- year working life, the present value of $1,160 and $890 is $20,900 and $16,000 making the conservative assumption that it does not grow over time and using a discount rate of 5 percent. 9  Some other studies are further limited because they estimate cost savings to the criminal justice system but not victim benefits (Robertson et al., 2001; Cowell et al., 2010). 10 Butts and Roman (2009) observe that some potentially valuable program models, such as community-based interventions, lack the rigorous evaluations required to assess benefits and costs. This is less a limitation of the technique of benefit-cost analysis per se than of the funding priorities of agencies and researchers.

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174 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE expected. Experience with the juvenile justice system could also lead the adolescent to rethink the risks and rewards of future criminal involvement (i.e., they are deterred from future crime). (The potential normative func- tion of the juvenile justice system is addressed in Chapter 7.) There is a very large literature in criminology on deterrence (Zimring and Hawkins, 1973; Andenaes, 1974), generally rooted in the position that criminal activity is reduced when criminal sanctions are seen as certain, severe, and swift. This happens because the risk and costs of sanctions will exceed the perceived returns from crime (Becker, 1968). Deterrence theo- rists usually distinguish between two types of deterrence: for society as a whole (general deterrence) and for individuals (specific deterrence). General deterrence is based on the idea of vicarious learning; widely known laws— accompanied by strong enforcement, prosecution, and punishment—send a clear message that crime will not be tolerated. Potential offenders, seeing or hearing about the experiences of others, decide that it is not wise to engage in that criminal activity or others. Specific deterrence is based on experiential learning; one’s own prior offending and sanction experiences provide a framework for judging the likely costs and benefits of criminal activity involvement and determine whether one will offend again. We are concerned here with the idea of specific deterrent effects in adolescents who have already offended (consideration of general deterrent effects in adolescents is discussed in Chapter 5). In general, punishment that is more certain should reduce crime, and the stronger a penalty connected with a crime, the less likely it should be that a person will do it. The majority of deterrence research indicates that the cer- tainty of the punishment, rather than its severity, is the primary mechanism through which deterrence works (Nagin, 1998; Paternoster, 2010; Durlauf ­ and Nagin, 2011). In other words, offenders typically respond to a punish- ment that is more likely than one that is more severe. There is good reason to believe that adolescents might respond differ- ently than adults to factors related to deterrence. As mentioned throughout this report, distinctive features of adolescent decision making (e.g., height- ened risk taking and reduced sensitivity to threat of punishment, especially its long-term consequences) would be expected to affect an adolescent’s weighing the consequences of criminal involvement. Moreover, the objec- tive characteristics of certainty and severity are not the prime determi- nant of deterrence; subjective perceptions are more influential (Matsueda, K ­ reager, and Huizinga, 2006). How an adolescent might distinctly frame the issue of the certainty and severity of punishment then becomes an even more important concern. The research on the applicability of deterrence models to adolescent decision making about criminal involvement, however, is rather limited. Most of the studies of the mechanisms of deterrence, with both adults and

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 175 adolescents, have used samples of nonoffenders or primarily nonserious offenders (Nagin and Pogarsky, 2001, 2003). As a result, there are very few findings regarding specific deterrence among adolescent offenders in par- ticular. The best known of these (Shannon, 1980, 1985; Schneider, 1990) indicate that adolescents do not respond in accordance with the posited mechanisms of deterrence; that is, perceptions of higher costs of crime are not associated with decreased offending in serious juvenile offenders, and processes other than cost-benefit calculations (e.g., labeling oneself as an offender) may be operating in less serious offenders. A series of relevant studies done on serious adolescent offenders from the Pathways to Desistance project has recently expanded this literature, finding that the elements of deterrence do operate in a sample of serious adolescent offenders over time, but that these effects are heterogeneous (Anwar and Loughran, 2011; Loughran et al., 2011a, 2011b, 2012). Some initial findings from these investigations indicate that, even in serious ado- lescent offenders, certainty of arrest appears to play a more important role in deterring future criminal activity than severity of punishment, offenders with more extensive histories of antisocial activity are less likely to change their risk perceptions after being arrested, and there may be a threshold level of risk that must be perceived (about a 30 percent chance of being arrested) to exert an effect on involvement in later offending. Most notably, this line of research so far indicates that deterrence operates to curtail future offending in serious adolescent offenders, although the mechanisms of its operations may still be different in some dimensions from those observed in adult samples. There is a body of research on the effects of transfer to adult court, which could be considered a specific deterrent policy meant to dissuade serious offenders from continued involvement in crime. Numerous ­ tudies s have compared the arrest histories of samples of juvenile offenders pro- cessed in the juvenile system with those processed in the adult court system. Analyses of these studies have repeatedly asserted that transfer laws are ineffective (i.e., they do not prevent future crime among those transferred) (Redding, 2008) and may in fact be harmful (i.e., counter- productive for the purpose of reducing crime and enhancing public safety) (McGowan et al., 2007). There is some indication that transfer to adult court may have a differential effect on adolescent offenders, with violent offenders reducing, and property offenders increasing, their subsequent offending levels (Loughran et al., 2010). Most of the analyses of these results, however, align with the assessment of Bishop and Frazier (2000, p. 261) that transferred adolescents are “more likely to reoffend, and to reoffend more quickly and more often, than those retained in the juvenile system.” Other work has examined the effects of placement in a juvenile facility compared with community-based treatment, finding that

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176 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE the latter in general produces higher levels of successful adjustment after adjudication (Garrett, 1985; Andrews, Bonta, and Hoge, 1990; Sherman et al., 1997; Lipsey, 1999; Lipsey, Wilson, and Cothern, 2000). A recent, well-controlled analysis of the effects of institutional placement versus probation, however, indicated no reduction, or increase, in rearrest or self-reported offending among serious adolescent offenders associated with placement in a juvenile institution versus assignment to probation (Loughran et al., 2009). Across the studies of deterrence and the effects of transfer, there is no evidence that more severe punishments reduce the likelihood of future offending. TAKING A DEVELOPMENTALLY ORIENTED APPROACH Clearly, juvenile justice policy and practice have to respond to so-called serious delinquents and hold them accountable for their behavior, especially because of the frequency and seriousness of the offenses committed by this small proportion of adolescent offenders. At the same time, concerns about serious offending delinquents should not dominate the approaches taken across the juvenile justice system. Over the past 20 years, the juvenile system has become increasingly punitive: for example, reducing the jurisdic- tion of the juvenile court, increasing transfer to adult court, and increasing sentence lengths (Logan, 1998; Feld, 1999; Howell, 2009). Much of this reorientation of the court to a “war on juveniles” (Howell, 2003a) appears to have been driven by concern over serious, chronic delinquency; a result of the moral panic about juvenile crime in the 1990s and the super-predator myth (Dilulio, 1995; Bennett, Dilulio, and Walters, 1996). In the midst of this uproar, the simple fact that serious delinquents represent a small minor- ity of the total population of delinquents has become lost. The extreme end of the distribution of juvenile offenders, that is, youth who are chronically violent, is extraordinarily small. Thus, although it is essential to make every effort to successfully prevent and deter serious delinquent behavior, these efforts will not be behaviorally appropriate for the vast majority of less serious delinquents who make up the bulk of the delinquent population. Recall that approximately half of the delinquents are referred to the juvenile justice system only once. It is just as important to respond appropriately to the behavior and needs of this very large group as it is to respond to the very small group of serious, chronic offenders. Consideration of knowledge regarding adolescent development can help refine the approaches taken to assess and intervene with juvenile offenders. Current approaches to processing and intervening with adoles- cents often build on models adapted from the adult criminal justice system or conceptions about behavioral disorders from mental health treatment. An alternative is to recognize that adolescent offenders, whether serious

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 177 or not, all share common processes of risk and development. There may be a greater accumulation of risk in serious offenders, but the underlying processes by which risk and protective factors affect outcomes appear to be the same for all juvenile offenders. Based on the studies cited ear- lier regarding differential program effects and reports of prevention work increasing stimulation of environmentally deprived young children (Masten and Coatsworth, 1998; Masten, 2001), it appears that the impact from interventions involving changes in social context may be most profound for those with the highest accumulation of risk. The mechanisms of influence may be consistent, but the size of the effect from an intervention may vary depending on the initial level of risk. Given this, it makes sense that the core principles guiding the way that both less serious and more serious juvenile offenders are treated should flow from a developmental perspective. Farrington and Welsh (2007) call this risk-focused prevention, in which risk is examined from the appropriate developmental stage and appropriate domain of risk (Biglan et al., 2004). Viewing involvement in antisocial behaviors in light of what it means to be an adolescent, rather than in terms of what it might take to erase a deficit, puts a different light on how one might think about designing and admin- istering the juvenile justice system. For one thing, being an adolescent means living in a period of life when change, rather than behavioral consistency, is the norm. Adolescents, including juvenile offenders, undergo accelerated physical, emotional, psy- chological, and social context changes during the period of their potential involvement with the juvenile court. Despite involvement with the juvenile justice system, they are still growing up on multiple dimensions. In addi- tion, based on our earlier review, being an adolescent also means that cogni- tive and emotional regulatory capacities are not yet synchronous enough to produce what would be considered logical judgments in times of emotional arousal. This means that adolescents may make reasonable judgments in some situations and not in others, or about some issues and not about others, and that their social learning can show considerable variability depending on the social context considered (Smetana and Villalobos, 2009). ­ Developing the ability to regulate and integrate cognitive and emotional processes is one of the major tasks of this developmental period. These simple regularities have implications for how to most usefully frame and respond to criminal involvement. Implications for Assessment The fact that adolescents are moving targets has implications for how one characterizes and assesses adolescent offenders. Variability in adolescent behavior and perceptions means that mental health diag­

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178 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE noses of adolescents are less reliable or valid and that the characteriza- ­ tions of adolescents as having certain immutable personality characteristics (e.g., psychopathy) are less trustworthy. In addition, involvement in anti­ ­ social activity, like many other adolescent behaviors, changes over time and has some relation to the developmental status of an adolescent. Consider- able evidence exists that a high proportion of adolescent offenders reduce or stop their antisocial behavior as they move into their mid-20s (Broidy et al., 2003; Piquero, 2008b). This change appears to be attributable to some combination of the positive effects of social transitions that occur during this period (e.g., entry into the workforce, positive romantic relationships) (Laub and Sampson, 2003), increases in psychosocial capacities (­ onahan et al., M 2009), and decreases in substance use (Chassin, Fora, and King, 2004). Qualitative work has also pointed up the importance of an increased sense of personal agency in promoting these changes, with adolescents trying on new, more prosocial identities as part of their adoption of an emerging adult sense of self (Maruna, 2001; Giordano, Cernkovich, and Rudolph, 2002). One implication of these observations is that depictions of an adoles- cent as having a fixed set of characteristics are highly likely to be inaccurate, and assessments of adolescents’ risk of future offending and suitability for certain interventions have a limited shelf life (Mulvey and Iselin, 2008). Categorization of adolescents according to their presenting offense alone, without consideration of developmental factors, is particularly poor at predicting later adjustment or outcomes (Loeber and Farrington, 1998), except for the demonstrated low level of reoffending among juvenile sex offenders (Zimring, 2004). Assessments of adolescents are most valid when they focus on short-term out­ omes and explicitly incorporate the types of c events that might precipitate or reduce the likelihood of a particular out- come. Thus, to be most informative, assessments of high-risk adolescents should be done regularly and should consider the influential social factors in the adolescent’s life. This approach stands in sharp contrast to some trends in juvenile jus- tice legislation and programming. Over the last two decades, statutes limit- ing the jurisdiction of the juvenile court have relied on the commission of one of a range of offenses to justify transfer or waiver of an adolescent to the adult court. Other program foci at the less serious end of the juvenile offender continuum have also taken an offense-oriented perspective for identifying adolescents who should receive specialized services, such as school truants and drug dealers. In these approaches, the overall risk profile of the adolescent is secondary to the presenting offense. From the outset, such approaches ignore the reality that the illegal behaviors of interest occur in a developmental framework and that there is considerable relevant variability among adolescents who commit the same offense or level of offense (Schubert et al., 2010).

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 179 Implications for Designing Interventions Recognizing the fluid nature of adolescence has implications for inter- ventions promoted by the juvenile justice system. Some interventions are clearly and appropriately aimed at fixing an adolescent’s deficits. For example, providing intensive schooling to increase the likelihood that an adolescent offender will graduate from high school certainly makes sense. Increasing human capital in terms of expanded skills or competencies is a key aspiration in any balanced set of interventions (as advocated by the balanced and restorative justice approach) (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1997a; Griffin, 2006). Just “fixing” an adoles- cent on one dimension of functioning, however, is unlikely to have a great impact on later adjustment. As seen in the review above, interventions with the most success at altering the level of subsequent offending provide opportunities for an adolescent to develop successfully in a supportive social world. Model programs like those cited above work systematically with multiple aspects of the adolescent’s world, including the family, the school, and the community. While building the personal competencies of the adolescent (e.g., increasing problem-solving strategies), they also work on constructing a more supportive social environment for the adolescent. This makes sense from a developmental perspective. The process of changing an adolescent’s trajectory rests on the ability of the systems around the adolescent to support and direct the ongoing change process. In late adolescence, most individuals follow a pattern of individuating from par- ents, orienting toward peers, and integrating components of attitudes and behavior into an autonomous self-identity (Collins and Steinberg, 2006). These processes are occurring simultaneously in an overlapping fashion, with the success of one process dependent on the course of another. Navi- gating this developmental period successfully, in which the adolescent sees himself or herself as a prosocial, law-abiding person, requires supportive adults, healthy relationships with peers, and opportunities to make autono- mous decisions (Scott and Steinberg, 2008). The juvenile justice system could increase its impact by considering when it might be impeding or promoting these developmental processes. The most obvious example is the system’s continued reliance on institu- tional placement. Being in an institutional environment for extended peri- ods, away from community opportunities to experiment with developing conceptions of self, might not allow for the developmental experiences needed in adolescence. Spending time in an institutional setting provides few opportunities to freely develop skills and competencies like learning job-related expectations or discovering qualities in a life partner that are a good match. Regimented schedules and restrictions reduce opportuni- ties to develop the skills critical to a successful adolescent transition to

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180 REFORMING JUVENILE JUSTICE adulthood (Mulvey and Schubert, 2011). Although some adolescents may receive essential skills for later life relationships, a great many others may just not catch up when they return to the community. Following this logic, the longer they are out of the normal, developmental pattern, the more difficult this becomes. An awareness of the developmental needs of adolescents also implies altered emphases in designing and assessing both institutional and c ­ ommunity-based programming. If one adopts a developmental approach, the settings and regularities of programming environments take on increased importance. Instead of simply considering whether a program addresses a feature of internal change within the adolescent offender (e.g., promot- ing social skills that might reduce a reliance on aggression as a response), programs (both institutional and community-based) would become more focused on the mechanisms by which they are promoting positive devel- opment (e.g., encouraging adolescent involvement in program operations or the maintenance of a safe environment). Like many of the burgeoning efforts at promoting positive youth development, juvenile justice programs would become focused on how program environment and operations fur- ther the development of program participants to address the next set of challenges facing them. Assessment of programs would focus on aspects of program operations that contribute to the development of an environment that promotes positive outcomes (see the approach taken by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality at http://www.cypq.org/ for an example of what such an orientation might entail). SUMMARY Adolescents who are involved in delinquency continue to develop dur- ing adolescence and early adulthood. This is true both physically, for example, with respect to brain development, and socially, for example, with respect to decision making and peer influence. In a real sense they are not yet complete. It is thus only logical, but nonetheless imperative, that the services provided to adolescent offenders foster positive, prosocial development. The developmental differences between adults and adolescents should be an orienting consideration in how assessments and interventions are designed for the juvenile justice system and how this system should differ system- atically from the adult criminal justice system. Adolescents require certain social conditions to emerge successfully from this period of development, whether they have committed a crime or not. Evidence indicates that build- ing these factors into the interventions used with adolescents reduces their likelihood of reoffending.

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PREVENTING REOFFENDING 181 This is best accomplished in the context of a juvenile justice system that is responsive to developmental concerns and not in the context of the adult criminal justice system with its often shared, but nonetheless differently ordered, set of priorities. For juveniles, policies and programs that are predominantly punitive neither foster prosocial development nor reduce recidivism (Howell, 2009; Lipsey, 2009). Although they may reaf- firm societal values and respond to the emotional needs of the victimized, they are not consistent with a developmental perspective and are less likely to foster the primary objective of public safety. There is no convincing evi- dence that confinement of juvenile offenders beyond a minimum amount required to provide sufficiently intense services for them to benefit from this experience, either in adult prisons or juvenile correctional institutions, appreciably reduces the likelihood of subsequent offending. To the extent that preventing reoffending is the primary policy consideration, juvenile court dispositions should avoid lengthy confinement, adolescents should be tried in criminal court only in the most serious cases of personal violence, and criminal court sentences should avoid confinement of adolescents in adult prisons. With exceedingly few exceptions, adolescent offenders (even serious offenders) who experience secure confinement will return to society while still relatively young but at a considerable disadvantage for success as an adult. Given this, it is in society’s interest to reduce the likelihood of con- tinued offending by providing developmentally appropriate interventions that are rooted in what is known about adolescent development (Biglan et al., 2004; Farrington and Welsh, 2007). Forestalling future crime and build- ing developmental strengths for offenders makes more sense in the long run than handicapping offenders by removing them from society in harsh environments and forestalling positive development in the process. This evidence for the effectiveness of developmentally sensitive interventions is bolstered by analyses of the costs and benefits of these interventions. The most comprehensive and detailed analyses of the dollars spent and saved by putting these types of programs into place show that the public savings are considerable. The advantages of many programs are not small; broad-based community interventions and theoretically sound institutional approaches all show benefits several times the costs. This is more than simple-minded ideology. Almost all of the model programs that demonstrate impressive reductions in reoffending are rooted in a developmental perspective. Successful programs attempt to reduce the risk factors that are associated with delinquency and violence by fostering prosocial development and by building promotive factors at the individual, family, school, and peer levels. Policies and programs for the range of ado- lescent offenders, including those that take place in secure confinement, should be based on these same core principles of successful intervention.

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