Less Cost, More Safety

American Youth Policy Forum
Richard Mendel
January 1, 2001
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2 INTRODUCTION:
2 Eight Challenges for Juvenile Justice Reform
3 Less Cost, More Safety and Success
4 Matrix
8 CHALLENGE #1: Reduce Overreliance on Incarceration
9 Un-Prisonment: Missouri Department of Youth Services
9 An Alternative to “Training School”
10 Un-Prison Atmosphere
11 Safety, Savings, and Success
12 Ohio and California: Using Financial Incentives to Reduce
Counties’ Dependence on State Training Schools
13 The Keys to Success
14 Conclusion
15 CHALLENGE #2: Offer A Broad Array of Community-Based Sanctions and
Interventions for Delinquent but Non-Dangerous Youth
16 Building a Community-Based Continuum
Tarrant County (TX) Juvenile Services Department
16 The Tarrant County Continuum
18 San Diego County The Comprehensive Stratagy
19 Cross-Country Contrast
20 Less Cost, More Safety
21 CHALLENGE #3: Replicate Research-Proven Program Strategies to
Reduce Delinquency
22 Putting Research Into Practice
Youth Villages in Memphis, Tennessee
22 Looking to the Research
24 Bringing Success to Scale
25 Putting Proven Models Into Practice: Washington State’s
Community Juvenile Accountability Act
28 CHALLENGE #4: Identify and Intervene Intensively with Youth at Extreme
Risk for Chronic Delinquency
29 Nipping Criminal Careers in the Bud
The 8 Percent Solution, Orange County, California
29 Identifying Potential “8 Percent Youth”
30 The “8 Percent” Program Model
31 John, Rudy, and the Case for Early Intervention
31 Measuring Success -- The “8 Percent” Dividend
33 CHALLENGE #5: Provide Comprehensive Support and Assistance to
Youth (and Children) with Behavioral Disturbances
34 Wraparound Milwaukee
Systems Reform in a Large Jurisdiction
35 Understanding the “Wraparound” Approach
35 Wraparound -- Milwaukee-Style
36 Blended Funding and “Capitated Rate” Financing
37 Minimizing Out-of-Home Placement
37 Wraparound Success
39 CHALLENGE #6: Offer Quality Treatment and Youth Development
Services for Incarcerated Youth
40 The Last Chance Ranch
Turning Around Florida’s Toughest Juvenile Offenders
40 Up From the Sea: The Evolution of a Juvenile Justice Model
41 A Ranch for Florida’s Toughest Juveniles
41 A Unique Atmosphere
42 Rewards, Punishments, and Hard Work
43 Phase Three -- Making Aftercare a Centerpiece
43 The New Ferris School Juvenile Corrections Reform in Delaware
44 Unparalleled Results
46 CHALLENGE #7: Provide Quality Education and Career Development
Services that Enable Youth to Assume Productive Roles in Society
47 Preparing Delinquent Youth for Productive Careers
The Gulf Coast Training Center
47 Union Roots
48 FRESH START at the Living Classrooms Foundation:
An Old Trade Leads to New Success
48 Vocational Corrections
51 More Work, Less Recidivism
53 CHALLENGE #8: Reduce Inappropriate Detention of Youth Awaiting Trial
or Pending Placement
54 Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan
Bringing Detention Reform to Seattle and King County, WA
55 Framing a Master Plan
55 Targets for Reform
56 The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternative
58 The Fruits of Reform
60 CONCLUSION
61 ENDNOTES
66 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
American Youth Policy Forum 2
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“America has both the knowledge and the money we need to substantially reduce adolescent crime and
youth violence. We have the know-how to reduce the number of young people likely to join the next
generation of adult criminals. Better yet, we can likely achieve this goal at a cost no greater (and perhaps
considerably less) than what we will spend if current juvenile justice policies and programs remain in
place.”
Less Hype, More Help: Reducing Juvenile Crime,
What Works – and What Doesn’t
(Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum, June 2000)
During the 1990s, juvenile crime pierced the
national consciousness. Delinquency and
youth violence soared to new heights early in the
decade. Alarming stories about juvenile
“superpredators” and a “ticking time bomb” of
adolescent crime haunted the covers of Time and
Newsweek. Then the school shootings in Jonesboro
and Paducah and at Columbine High shook the
nation. Even a sharp decline in juvenile
delinquency and violence since the early 1990s has
not lessened Americans’ continuing sense of alarm.
In June 2000, the American Youth Policy Forum
and six national partner organizations published a
report analyzing America’s youth crime challenge
at the turn of the millennium and assessing the
effectiveness of new and existing juvenile crime
policies nationwide. The report, entitled Less Hype,
More Help: Reducing Juvenile Crime, What Works
– and What Doesn’t , found reason for great
optimism. Juvenile justice experts and practitioners
have developed an array of effective tools over
the past two decades with proven power to reduce
violence and other lawbreaking by adolescents.
The report also revealed causes for grave concern.
Responding to public demand for action against
youth crime, our nation’s political leaders have
responded aggressively to the perceived crisis.
Virtually every state has enacted sweeping new laws
since 1992 – erecting new correctional facilities,
imposing procedures to shift more accused youth
to adult criminal courts, and launching a bevy of
new juvenile justice and youth crime prevention
programs.
Unfortunately, many of the so-called “reforms”
enacted in recent years have ignored the real causes
for delinquency and neglected the promising cures.
Many states have embraced tough-sounding
strategies that appeal to voters but don’t work, and
most have failed to address longstanding
weaknesses and imbalances in our nation’s juvenile
justice institutions.
Reducing the situation to a simple metaphor,
scholars and practitioners have blazed a promising
new trail toward progress in reigning in America’s
adolescent crime problem – a trail leading to less
crime, lower costs, and fewer lost youth. Yet many
of our nation’s policymakers are instead marching
full steam ahead in other directions – directions
fraught with alarming costs and inevitable failure
both for protecting the public and for maximizing
success among troubled youth.
EIGHT CHALLENGES FOR JUVENILE
JUSTICE REFORM
This report follows up on Less Hype, More Help
by focusing more squarely on the critical needs
and problems facing juvenile justice efforts
nationwide. Specifically, the report spotlights eight
cross-cutting challenges – both to take advantage
of new opportunities created by advances in
research and practice, and to overcome
commonplace problems that now cripple America’s
efforts to reduce delinquent offending and steer
troubled youth away from crime. These challenges
include:
Less Cost, More Safety 3
1. Reducing Overreliance on Incarceration for
Non-Dangerous Youthful Offenders
2. Developing a Continuum of Community-Based
Sanctions and Interventions for Delinquent but
Non-Dangerous Youth
3. Employing Research-Proven Program
Strategies to Reduce Delinquency
4. Identifying and Intervening Intensively With
Youth at Extreme Risk for Chronic
Delinquency
5. Providing Comprehensive Support to Youth
With Behavioral Disturbances
6. Ensuring Quality Treatment and Youth
Development Services for Incarcerated Youth
7. Providing Quality Education and Career
Development Services to Help Youth Outgrow
Delinquency and Assume Productive Roles in
Society
8. Reducing Inappropriate Detention for Youth
Awaiting Trial or Pending Placement
For each of these challenges, this report highlights
one or more existing programs, policies or initiatives
that show how the challenge can be (and is being)
met successfully at the state and local levels. (See
table on pages 4-7.) By putting research into
practice, employing best practice reforms,
creating better incentives, improving multiagency
cooperation, and eliminating inefficiency,
each of the guiding light programs is
demonstrating that success is possible in juvenile
justice. Recidivism can be lowered. Teen crime
rates can be reduced. More positive outcomes
for high-risk youth can be achieved.
LESS COST, MORE SAFETY AND
SUCCESS
As the following pages will detail, guiding lights
programs not only produce far better outcomes
than are now commonplace in juvenile justice
systems nationwide. They also yield vast savings
for taxpayers.
Most of the model initiatives profiled in this report
achieve their notable successes for a price
significantly lower than what more conventional
programs currently spend on failure. Even those
with high price-tags are proving cost-effective
because they frequently solve problems the first
time, rather than failing repeatedly and ensuring
that youths return to the justice system and require
repeated confinement.
Spend less, achieve more safety and more youth
success: that is the opportunity available to
America in juvenile justice reform – if we
demonstrate the energy and resourcefulness and
dedication to put our knowledge into practice.
American Youth Policy Forum 4
Challenge Exemplary Response Critical Characteristics
No. 1
Over-reliance on
Incarceration
Missouri Division of Youth
Services
(State of Missouri)
Statewide system based on:
 small-scale residential facilities (rather than
training schools)
 extensive 24-hour/day therapy
 quality education programs
 heavy family outreach/counseling
 well-qualified, highly-trained staff
 extensive non-residential programming and
aftercare support
No. 2
Continuum of
Community
Sanctions and
Interventions
Tarrant County Juvenile
Services
(Tarrant County, TX)
County Probation Agency with :
 limited number of locked pre-trial detention
beds
 extensive array of non-residential
sanctions, including advocate programs,
family preservation, and community
service-restitution
 strong partnerships with community-based
service providers
 limited use of confinement and residential
treatment
No. 3
Research-Based
Program Models
Youth Villages
(Memphis, TN)
Private non-profit agency serving youth with
emotional and behavioral disorders (including
many delinquents), providing a continuum of
residential and non-residential care,
including:
 Multisystemic Therapy, a highly effective
home-based, family-focused mental
health intervention
 Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care,
another highly effective, research-based
treatment model
No. 4
Youth at Extreme
Risk
“8 Percent Solution”
(Orange County, CA)
County probation program aimed at reducing
the number of chronic juvenile offenders by:
 identifying the characteristics of youth at
highest risk to become chronic juvenile
offenders
 screening all first-time offenders to identify
those with highest probability to become
chronic offenders
 enrolling potential chronic offenders in an
intensive day treatment program including
family therapy, substance abuse
counseling, remedial academic education,
and case management
Less Cost, More Safety 5
Evidence of Effectiveness Other Noteworthy Responses
1. Far lower recidivism rates than most other
state juvenile corrections agencies.
2. Far smaller budget than juvenile corrections
agencies in other states.
Reclaim Ohio – Statewide funding reform to
reward counties for treating juvenile offenders
locally and preventing excessive commitments to
state training schools.
California Youth Authority – New sliding scale
funding formula requiring counties to pay a large
share of the costs for non-serious offenders
committed to state custody.
1. Substantial reductions in juvenile crime and
violence.
2. 90-day failure rate for probation programs
lower than most large urban counties in Texas.
3. County’s long-term recidivism for youth
served in local probation programs is second
lowest among Texas’ large urban counties.
San Diego County – Developed comprehensive
strategy including programs to prevent the onset
of delinquency and non-residential programming
to reverse delinquent behavior before juvenile
offenders commit serious crimes and require
incarceration or transfer to adult courts.
1. Only agency in the nation to replicate these
two state-of-the-art treatment models.
2. Using these models, substantially increased
long-term success of troubled youth
compared with traditional residential treatment
programs used previously.
3. Achieving greater success at a far lower cost
per participant than residential treatment.
Washington State’s Community Juvenile
Accountability Act –A grant program to local
juvenile courts for replication of delinquency
program strategies with proven power to reduce
re-offending cost-effectively.
1. Just 49% of youth in initial pilot were rearrested
within 1 year, vs. 93% arrest rate for
youth with identical characteristics in an
earlier study.
2. In a controlled evaluation, youth who
completed the program suffered two or more
subsequent arrests 29% less often than youth
randomly assigned to a control group.
3. “8%” youth also had fewer arrests, fewer
court petitions, and spent fewer days in
confinement than control group youth.
Repeat Offender Prevention Project – Statefunded
project to support the “8 Percent” program
and other early intervention programs in 7
additional California jurisdictions, with a controlled
evaluation design to measure the programs’
impact scientifically.
American Youth Policy Forum 6
Challenge Exemplary Response Critical Characteristics
No. 5
Youth With
Behavioral
Disturbances
Wraparound Milwaukee
(Milwaukee County, WI)
County mental health program to reduce out-ofhome
treatment for disturbed (and often
delinquent) youth using pooled funding ($28
million/year) from county juvenile probation,
child welfare, and mental health agencies.
 comprehensive home-based services
 intensive case-management
 strength-based treatment philosophy
 extensive service-provider network
 mobile treatment team for crisis
management and prevention of admissions
to psychiatric hospitals
No. 6
Chronic and Violent
Youth Offenders
Florida Environmental
Institute
(Glades County, FL)
Small, privately-operated correctional facility for
serious and violent youth offenders:
 working ranch located in the Florida
Everglades, with no locked cells or restraints
 high staff-to-offender ratio and close staffoffender
relationships
 intensive behavior management (reward/
punishments for good/bad behavior)
 extensive chores and work activities as well
as in-depth educational programming
 intensive aftercare support for six months
No. 7
Quality Education
and Career
Development for
Delinquent Youth
Gulf Coast Trades Center
(New Waverly, TX)
Residential corrections facility using vocational
training as a primary strategy to rehabilitate
juvenile offenders:
 all students enrolled in one of 9 career
tracks, each with a 915-hour applied
curriculum
 students receive two hours per day of
academic instruction
 most students participate in paid work
experience on campus, in community
agencies, or in new low-income housing
construction
 intensive aftercare, including job search/
job placement assistance
No. 8
Juvenile Detention
Reform
Juvenile Justice
Operational Master Plan
(King County, WA)
Comprehensive analysis of county juvenile
justice operations in order to:
 reduce overcrowding at juvenile detention
center
 eliminate need for construction and
operation of added detention beds
 identify alternative programs/policies to
improve outcomes for juvenile offenders
and reduce juvenile offending rates
Less Cost, More Safety 7
Evidence of Effectiveness Other Noteworthy Responses
1. Reduced use of residential treatment from
360 youth per day to 135 per day.
2. Reduced psychiatric hospitalizations of
children/adolescents by 80 percent.
3. Reduced arrests of delinquent youth
participants by more than 70 percent from
year prior to year after treatment.
4. Substantially improved participants’ behavioral
functioning as measured by mental health
assessments.
See Youth Villages (Challenge #3)
1. Recidivism rate has averaged 15.8 percent
from 1997-2000, compared to recidivism
rates of >40 percent for youth in other Florida
residential corrections programs.
2. Despite longer stays and higher cost per day
than most Florida training schools, the
program ranks among the most cost-effective
in the state for high-risk offenders due to far
higher success rates.
Ferris School – The new Delaware training
school built in the 1990s after years of litigation
over substandard conditions and inadequate
programming in an older facility. “New Ferris”
offers high quality education and other
programming – a dramatic improvement over past
practice.
1. Recidivism rates are far below those of other
moderate security facilities – and more than
30% below “expected recidivism” based on
risk profile of participants.
2. Sixty percent of graduates find paid
employment in their chosen occupational
fields, with average starting wage of $7.50.
3. Sixty percent earn GEDs.
Fresh Start – Baltimore-based day program that
teaches delinquent youth boat building and other
vocational skills as part of comprehensive, 40-
week (plus aftercare) rehabilitation strategy. Most
graduates are employed, and fewer than one-fifth
are re-arrested.
County adopted master plan in August 2000:
 new policies/procedures/programs established
to prevent unnecessary placements into
detention and reduce lengths of stay;
 average detention population down 30 percent
since January 1999;
 construction of new detention facility on hold
indefinitely;
 some funds not used for construction invested
in state-of-the-art intervention programs for
high risk offenders and their families.
Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative –
Multi-million dollar project of the Annie E. Casey
Foundation that enabled three local jurisdictions to
reduce overcrowding in juvenile detention, develop
sound alternatives-to-detention programs, and
streamline case processing to reduce
unnecessarily long stays in detention for youthful
offenders.
American Youth Policy Forum 8
CHALLENGE #1:


 
  

“ Evaluation research indicates that incarcerating young offenders in large, congregate care juvenile institutions
does not effectively rehabilitate and may actually harm them... A century of experience with training
schools and youth prisons demonstrates that they constitute the one extensively evaluated and clearly
ineffective method to treat delinquents.” 1
Barry Feld, University of Minnesota Law School
Nationwide, juvenile justice agencies spent
between $10 and $15 billion in 2000 to
prosecute, supervise, punish and treat adolescents
accused or convicted of delinquent or criminal
behavior, or to prevent adolescent crimes before
they occur. The majority of these funds were paid
to confine a small segment of the juvenile offender
population, and most confined youth were sent to
“ training schools” – large correctional institutions
typically housing 100 to 500 juvenile offenders.
Conditions of confinement in these facilities are
often poor, and educational and mental health
services are often inadequate. Moreover, the
process of isolating youth exclusively with other
delinquent peers tends to exacerbate rather than
mitigate the law-breaking tendencies of youthful
offenders.
Decisions to send youthful offenders to training
schools (or correctional boot camps) are typically
based upon two rationales: (1) the young person
poses a danger to society and must be removed; or
(2) a period of confinement will teach the young
person a needed lesson. The evidence belies both
of these rationales as justification for devoting the
lion’ s share of juvenile justice resources to
incarceration.
Most youth placed into training schools are not
dangerous criminals. Nationwide, 27 percent of
youthful offenders in out-of-home placements in
October 1997 were guilty of violent felony crimes.
(The large majority of these placements were to
correctional units, with the rest being residential
treatment centers or group homes.) A 1993 study
of 28 states found that only 14 percent of offenders
in correctional training schools were committed for
violent felonies. More than half of the youthful
offenders in state institutions were committed for
property or drug crimes and were serving their first
terms in a state institution.2
Meanwhile, large training schools have never
proved effective in rehabilitating youthful offenders
or steering them from crime. Recidivism from large
training schools is uniformly high. A follow-up
study on youth released from Minnesota’ s two
training schools in 1991 found that 91 percent were
arrested within five years of release. In Maryland,
a study of 947 youths released from correctional
facilities in 1994 found that 82 percent were
referred to juvenile or criminal courts within two
and one-half years after release.3 In Washington
State, 59 percent of incarcerated youth re-offended
within one year and 68 percent within two years.4
 







    
 
  
 

 

 


  

  
  

 




  
    

 




   

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Less Cost, More Safety 9
In fact, virtually every study examining
recidivism among youth sentenced to juvenile
training schools in the past three decades has
found that at least 50 to 70 percent of offenders
are arrested within one or two years after release.
Clearly, training schools are not derailing the
criminal careers of youthful offenders.
Why then do states continue to rely so heavily on
training school incarceration – despite the powerful
evidence against its effectiveness? One factor is
that public pressures to “ get tough” on youth crime
have dissuaded political leaders from embracing
less punitive rehabilitation strategies. Also, many
local jurisdictions have declined to invest adequate
resources in community-based juvenile corrections
programs that can punish, supervise and rehabilitate
young offenders without removing them to state
institutions. Many states have created financial
incentives against local investment in these needed
programs.
Experience shows that states and localities which
overcome these obstacles can substantially reduce
their reliance on incarceration – saving millions for
taxpayers, increasing public safety, and sparing
many youth a needless and potentially damaging
experience in corrections
Steel-gray cement floor. White cinder-block walls.
Narrow cot and open, stainless steel toilet. The room
looks like tens of thousands of training school cells
throughout our nation.
Yet here at the Riverbend juvenile correctional facility
in St. Joseph, Missouri, this cell is the only one of its
kind – and it is empty. Though the young people
confined at Riverbend clean the cell every week, it
has remained unoccupied for more than one year,
reserved for emergencies that seldom arise. Rather
than living in individual or two-person cells, the 33
residents of Riverbend – most convicted of felonies –
sleep in three open dormitories. There are no handcuffs
here, and no restraints. Only the 14-foot perimeter fence
signals that this is a correctional facility.
Like all of Missouri’ s juvenile correctional facilities,
Riverbend’ s 33-bed capacity is far smaller than the “ training
schools” that dominate juvenile corrections in most other
states. Nationwide, only 12 percent of youth confined
by public correctional agencies are housed in facilities
with 30 or fewer residents, and 62 percent are confined
in facilities with more than 110 residents.5 Missouri closed
it’ s only training school in 1983 (and converted it for use
as an adult prison). Today in Missouri, no juvenile
correctional facility contains more than 85 beds, and all
except three contain 33 beds or fewer.
AN ALTERNATIVE TO “TRAINING
SCHOOL”
Clearly, Missouri’ s secure juvenile corrections
facilities look quite different from those in most
states. They are also used more sparingly.
Whereas neighboring Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas,
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Tennessee each
confine between 200 and 2,200 youth in training
schools and other high-security correctional
facilities, Missouri confines only 180 youth in
heavily locked facilities like Riverbend.6 Threefourths
of youthful offenders committed to
Missouri’ s youth corrections agency, the Division
of Youth Services (DYS), are assigned to nonresidential
community programs, group homes, and
less secure residential facilities.
Community-Based Programs. On any given day
in Missouri, 255 juvenile offenders committed to
state custody participate in “ day treatment
programs” like the Star program in Gladstone,
where 15 youth spend from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every
weekday in a combination of academic education
and counseling. After school, many participate in
community-service or academic tutoring activities,
or in individual or family counseling. For most
youth, the day treatment program is a step down
UN-PRISONMENT:
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH SERVICES
American Youth Policy Forum 10
following residential confinement. This allows DYS
to provide eyes-on supervision when youth return
to the community, and it provides the young people
extra support during the difficult and dangerous
transition period. Day treatment also enables youth
to continue their education without interruption,
rather than enduring a delay between their release
from confinement and the opening of a new
semester in the public schools.
In addition to day treatment, DYS assigns
“ trackers” to monitor and support 800 delinquent
teens each day in community supervision. These
trackers – usually college students pursuing a degree
in social work or a related discipline – maintain
close contact with delinquent young people and their
families, offering support, mentoring, and
troubleshooting assistance. In addition, 500 youth
statewide are supervised each day on “ aftercare”
status – through which youth who have graduated
from DYS programs continue to be supervised by
the same case manager who has overseen their case
all throughout their time with DYS.
Statewide, only 12 percent of youth committed to
state custody are enrolled immediately into a
community-based program. However, the length of
stay for Missouri youth in residential care programs
is typically short – median stay is six months – and
most youth spend time in community programs
following their return from residential care.
Less-Secure Residential Programs. In addition
to these non-residential programs, the Missouri
Department of Youth Services also operates six
non-secure group homes with 10-12 beds each, as
well as 18 “ moderately secure” residential programs
serving 20-30 youth each. The group homes
typically house youth who have committed only
status offenses or misdemeanors. These young
people pose no danger to the community, but
require more structure, support and supervision
than their families can provide. Group home
youth spend considerable time away from their
facilities in jobs, group projects, and other
community activities. Within the facilities, they
participate in extensive individual, group and
family counseling.
Missouri’ s “ moderately secure” residential
programs are dotted across the state in residential
neighborhoods, state parks, and two college
campuses. Though many youth sent to these
facilities are felons, they too spend time in the
community. Closely supervised by staff,
residents regularly go on field trips and undertake
community service projects. Those who make
progress in the counseling component of the
program and demonstrated trustworthiness are
often allowed to perform jobs with local
nonprofit or government agencies – thanks to a
$678,000 per year DYS work experience
program.
UN-PRISON ATMOSPHERE
At the moderately secure residential sites – and
even at high-security facilities like Riverbend –
the atmosphere is anything but prison-like.
Residents joke easily with staff, with whom most
are on a first name basis. The furnishings are new
and cheerful, and the grounds are immaculate.
Each of the facilities is organized into treatment
groups of 10-12 youth who share a dormitory and
participate together in academic classes and group
therapy sessions. Many groups tend their own pet
or pets – a dog, a turtle, a rabbit. Colorful bulletin
boards designed by youth cover most of the walls
– featuring their work or positive messages written
by youth expressing gratitude to staff or other
participants.
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Less Cost, More Safety 11
Youth attend six 50-minute periods of academic
instruction every weekday all year round. They
break into small groups for GED instruction or
classwork toward their high school diplomas, work
together on special projects or current events, or
do individual lessons in a computer learning lab.
In some DYS facilities, youth participate in a
statewide stock market game where groups invest
a theoretical $100,000 over 10 weeks. These DYS
groups study the markets carefully, and many
participants can knowledgeably discuss the stock
performance of dozens of companies. Several DYS
groups have ranked among the top groups statewide
in the performance of their investments – outdueling
classes from Missouri’ s regular public schools.
Treatment. In addition to academics, another
critical element of the DYS residential programs is
what residents and staff refer to as “ treatment.”
Ninety-minute group sessions are conducted five
times per week at all of Missouri’ s residential and
day treatment programs. Facilitated by highlytrained,
college-educated youth specialists and
group leaders, these sessions help youth explore
their own identities, reflect on their family histories,
learn to understand their emotions, and build skills
to recognize and reverse their destructive behavior
patterns.
The walls at all DYS facilities are covered with
work completed by youth as part of this treatment
process. “ Genograms” are family trees which
include not only the names of relatives but also the
problems and challenges they faced: alcoholism,
drug abuse, domestic violence, mental health
problems, physical disabilities, or others. For the
“ line of body” exercise, participants trace the outline
of their own bodies and then write and illustrate
essential elements of their histories, hopes, emotions
and identities.
Families are also a critical element of the Missouri
treatment approach. Unlike most other states,
Missouri’ s juvenile corrections systems is divided
into five sub-state regions, enabling almost every
youth to be housed within a one or two hour drive
from their family homes. DYS family therapists
travel to the homes of residents’ parents and
guardians, or they drive family members to and
from the residential facilities to make visits and
participate in family therapy sessions.
In conversations with DYS youth, the impact of
these treatment activities is unmistakable. Young
people speak openly about their troubled pasts, their
hopes for the future, and the changes they are
making in themselves to ensure they don’ t repeat
their past mistakes. Without prompting, many
youth acknowledge the pain they have caused the
victims of their crimes – and their determination
not to create any future victims. Many relate how
resistant they were at first to examining the
emotional wounds and traumatic experiences that
helped propel them into anti-social behaviors and
thus into trouble. And those who have been
confined for some time talk about the responsibility
they feel to help new arrivals overcome their
skepticism and fear about opening their feelings to
others – and to themselves.
SAFETY, SAVINGS, AND SUCCESS
Missouri’ s emphasis on treatment and on leastrestrictive
care, rather than incarceration and
punishment, is paying big dividends. While the
Division of Youth Services does not track the longterm
recidivism of youthful offenders released from
its care, several indicators demonstrate that
Missouri’ s unconventional approach is far more
successful and cost-effective than the training
school-oriented systems of most state juvenile
corrections agencies.
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American Youth Policy Forum 12
In each of the past two years, only 11 percent of
young people released from DYS custody or
transferred from a residential to a non-secure
community program were either rearrested or
returned to juvenile custody within one year. A
1993 DYS study found that only 28 percent of
youth released from residential care violated parole
or were recommitted to DYS within three years of
Ohio and California:
Using Financial Incentives to Reduce Counties’
Dependence on State Training Schools
Whereas Missouri has developed its continuum of community-based and non-residential programs at the
state level, other states are using financial incentives to encourage county courts and probation agencies to
meet the challenge at the local level.
In Ohio, counties have historically inundated state juvenile correctional institutions with many non-serious
offenders. That began to change in 1993, however, when the state legislature enacted a new funding
initiative, Reclaim Ohio. Until then, the state bore the entire cost of training school confinement for any
young person the counties chose to send, while counties bore the full cost for any young person retained in
the community and enrolled in a non-residential or community-based treatment program. Thus, the counties
faced a powerful financial incentive to commit youth to state facilities – whether or not such a commitment
was in the best interests of the individual young person (or public safety).
Reclaim Ohio turned these incentives upside down. The new program offered counties a yearly funding
allocation (based on each county’s percentage of statewide felony delinquents) for the treatment of juvenile
offenders. The state then began charging counties 75 percent of the costs for any young person committed
to state care, but only 50 percent of the costs for any young person retained in a local corrections facility.
Any unspent funds could be used by the counties for non-residential community corrections programs.
Thus, Reclaim Ohio provided counties both the incentive and the means to establish local alternatives to
training school confinement of juvenile offenders.
When it was tested in 1994 in nine pilot counties, Reclaim Ohio caused a 43 percent drop in commitments to
state custody. Reclaim Ohio is now a permanent program statewide, serving more than 15,000 youth per
year in local juvenile corrections programs costing $25.6 million in 1999 alone. Meanwhile, the percentage of
juvenile felony offenders committed to state care declined every year from 1994 to 1997, and overcrowding
in state training schools has fallen substantially.
California has also taken steps to reduce over-reliance on training school incarceration. For decades, the
state paid almost the entire cost of confinement for any youth committed by county courts to the California
Youth Authority. In 1996, California created a new sliding scale funding formula. For serious offenders, the
state continued to pay the lion’s share of costs for training school confinement. However, the state began
charging counties 50 percent of the costs of confinement for moderately serious offenders, 75 percent of the
bill for youth with less serious felonies, and 100 percent for youth with technical parole violations or misdemeanors
– a hefty $2,600 per juvenile per month. The impact of this new funding scheme was immediate: within two
years the admission rate for less serious offenders declined by 41 percent.
CONTACTS:
Reclaim Ohio
Carol Rapp Zimmerman, Asst. Director
Ohio Department of Youth Services
51 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 466-8783
California’s Sliding Scale Funding Formula
Tracy Kenny
Legislative Analyst’s Office
925 L Street, Suite 1000
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-4660
Less Cost, More Safety 13
their release – a failure rate one-half to two-thirds
below that of most other states. More than 90
percent of the 917 youth committed to DYS in
1991 were first time commitments; only 8 percent
had been committed to DYS previously. And a
study of five thousand youth discharged from DYS
in the 1980s found that only 15 percent were
arrested as adults.7
Perhaps most impressively, Missouri’ s juvenile
corrections system has achieved these superior
outcomes at a cost well below that of most states.
By avoiding over-reliance on expensive residential
confinement programs, limiting the length of stay
in these programs, and minimizing recidivism,
Missouri’ s Division of Youth Services operated with
a budget of just $61 million in 2000 – about $94
for each young person in the state aged 10-17. By
comparison, juvenile corrections budgets in the
eight states surrounding Missouri average
approximately $140 per young person – one third
more than Missouri.8
THE KEYS TO SUCCESS
Despite these impressive results, other states have
not been willing or able to emulate Missouri. Less
than a handful of states have entirely scrapped
training schools, as Missouri has, and all but a
handful have declined to develop a broad network
of small residential and non-residential juvenile
corrections programs. Why not? And how can
youth advocates and taxpayer rights groups in other
states overcome resistance and build support for
Missouri-style juvenile justice reform? Several
factors appear most important:
 Attention to safety. Given the public’ s
understandable concerns about youth crime
and violence, placing adjudicated youth into
non-secure programs and allowing confined
youth to participate in off-campus activities is
a dangerous proposition. One major incident
can create a firestorm of political protest.
Missouri has been extremely successful in
avoiding such incidents, thanks to a
combination of: 1) careful screening of
youthful offenders before allowing them to
interact with the general population; 2) careful
supervision of confined youth during
occasional outings into the community; and 3)
use of trackers to monitor youth residing in
the community to identify and address problem
situations as they arise.
 High quality staff. A central tenet of the
Missouri approach is that “ treatment occurs
24-hours-per-day.” Not only therapy sessions,
but all activities must reinforce the messages
of individual responsibility and discipline –
and never reward youth for overpowering
others or slacking in their assigned tasks or
behavioral standards. Missouri maintains this
24-hour regimen by ensuring that youth are
overseen at all times by at least two skilled,
educated, and highly trained staff members.
All youth specialists and direct care workers in
Missouri are college graduates, and all must
complete 120 hours of in-service training during
their first two years on the job. In most states,
incarcerated youth spend only a handful of
hours per week in therapy activities with
trained counselors. For the remainder of the
time, youth are overseen by less skilled, lowerpaid
correctional officers who often lack the
skills (and perhaps the inclination) to rigorously
enforce a treatment philosophy.
 Constituency-building. To overcome public
fears of delinquent youth and political
momentum toward ever-tougher approaches
to delinquency, long-time Division of Youth
Services Director Mark Steward has carefully
cultivated a network of prominent supporters
statewide – including leaders in both political
parties. By inviting judges, state legislators
and other powerful figures to tour its facilities
– and by allowing youth themselves to guide
these tours and describe in their own words
the value of the DYS treatment process –
Steward and DYS have gained the faith of
Missouri leaders across the political spectrum.
Also, by placing dozens of facilities throughout
the state, it has built a powerful base of
grassroots support to maintain its decentralized
programming at a time when most other states
are only building more training school beds.
“ Missouri has resisted the get large philosophy,
American Youth Policy Forum 14
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Missouri Division of Youth Services
Public Safety, Rehabilitation of Youthful Offenders
Youthful Offenders Committed to State Custody
Small correctional facilities, heavy treatment
emphasis, extensive use of non-residential “ tracker”
and “ day treatment” programs, intensive family
outreach
State of Missouri, US Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention
Very low recidivism, far lower cost than juvenile
corrections systems in most surrounding states
Mark Steward, Director
Missouri Division of Youth Services
P.O. Box 447
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573) 751-3324; Fax: (573) 526-4494
Program Type State Juvenile Corrections Agency
mostly [because] Steward went out and talked
with people around the state and built a
consensus in support of his approach,” reports
Paul DeMuro, a leading juvenile justice
consultant. “ Steward may be the most
longstanding juvenile corrections director in the
nation. He knows how to work the system,
and he’ s very well respected.” 9
CONCLUSION
Missouri’ s un-prisonment approach to juvenile
justice is by no means perfect. Investments in
community-based delinquency prevention efforts
are not extensive statewide, and the state contributes
only a modest (though growing) $6 million per year
to support local juvenile court programs that
intervene early in the delinquency careers of
adolescents and reduce the chances that youth will
be committed to DYS in the future. Missouri also
fails to collect long-term recidivism data for youth
after leaving its juvenile corrections programs.
On balance, though, Missouri’ s approach should
be a model for the nation. Its success offers
definitive proof that states can protect the public,
rehabilitate youth, and safeguard taxpayers far
better if they abandon incarceration as the core
of their juvenile corrections systems.
“ It’ s the best system in the country in my opinion
for [the correctional phases of] juvenile justice,”
says Paul DeMuro. Bart Lubow, a Senior Associate
at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, also ranks
Missouri’ s Division of Youth Services among the
finest juvenile corrections agencies in the nation.
“ It shows what’ s possible,” Lubow says, “ when
you put in place a smart array of options and you
tailor the dispositions to the needs and risks of the
individual kids.” 10
Less Cost, More Safety 15
CHALLENGE #2:


 


 
  
   


 
 

 



“ A judge in one county has many options to craft appropriate orders for young offenders. In the next county
over, especially if it is an urban county, a judge may have very few options between probation and incarceration.
That’ s like choosing between aspirin or a lobotomy for a migraine.” 11
Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey
The vast majority of young people arrested and
referred to juvenile courts nationwide are not
incarcerated. Instead, 43 percent are never formally
charged with an offense, and two-fifths of those
who are charged in juvenile courts either have their
cases dropped or subsequently sign an informal
probation agreement. Thus, only one-third of
delinquency cases ultimately result in a court finding
of delinquency (i.e., a conviction). Among youth
found to be delinquent, more than two-thirds
receive a sentence of probation, release, or
alternative sanction. Thus, only 11 percent of
delinquency cases result in out-of-home placement
to corrections or to a group home or residential
treatment center.
Within our nation’ s juvenile justice systems,
however, most of the energy and the funding are
devoted to confining these 11 percent. Far less
effort and creativity, and many fewer resources,
are devoted to appropriately punishing youth who
remain at home or to addressing the underlying
problems that may be causing their delinquent
behavior.
Theoretically, juvenile courts have a wide range of
options to deal with youthful offenders who are
allowed to remain in the community. These options
can include restitution, community service, home
curfew, academic tutoring, anger management
training, individual or family counseling, substance
abuse treatment, plus many others, or supervision
by a probation officer without any of these activities.
If a youth violates probation, the court might have
a range of possible punishments – tightened curfew,
added community service, short-term “ quick dip”
incarceration, more frequent drug testing, or reduced
privileges.
Or the judge might have few of these options – as
is too often the case. As Eric Joy, director of the
Allegheny County (PA) juvenile courts, told a
congressional committee in 1997, “ Utilizing a
system of progressive sanctions can be difficult if
the means to carry them out are not available.” 12
One disposition that historically has not been
available in most communities, or has been used
only for a select few, is intensive non-residential
treatment and/or youth development services –
aggressive intervention programs to resolve behavior
problems in young people’ s natural environment.
This gap is not due to a lack of willingness on the part
of juvenile courts and probation agencies to invest
 
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American Youth Policy Forum 16
money in treatment programs; rather, most
jurisdictions regularly place troubled youth into group
homes and residential treatment programs, often
paying $200 or more per day for these services.
Yet, in most communities, juvenile justice authorities
have declined to invest in intensive programming
for youth who remain in their own homes.
This failure is especially striking given the
tremendous success achieved by a handful of
intensive non-residential program models such as
Multisystemic Therapy, Multidimensional
Treatment Foster Care, and Functional Family
Therapy (see Challenge #3). These and other
intensive non-residential juvenile corrections
programs, even when they provide extensive
services, cost far less per day than training schools
or residential treatment programs. Often, their
results are as good or better. Yet these intensive
community-based programs, even more than other
components of a progressive sanctions continuum,
remain all too rare nationwide.
As the following pages explain, Tarrant County,
Texas is one jurisdiction demonstrating that where
intensive non-residential programming is provided
– and particularly when it is integrated into a
seamless continuum of graduated sanctions and
services – the results are often both superior to and
less costly than those realized using the old “ aspirin
or lobotomy” approach.
Soon after George W. Bush was first elected
Governor of Texas in 1994 with juvenile justice
reform as a major plank in his campaign platform,
the Texas legislature authorized $37.5 million dollars
in general revenue bonds for construction or
expansion of local juvenile corrections facilities.
Half of these funds were designated for Texas’
seven most populous urban counties, and six of
the counties snatched up the funds and quickly
added more than 500 new correctional beds. One
jurisdiction, however, opted not to accept the funds.
Despite the fact that it had many fewer correctional
beds than most urban counties even before the new
construction began, Tarrant County declined its
$3.7 million share of the state’ s offer.
Why? Because when the county juvenile probation
department conducted an internal study, it found
that added correctional beds were unnecessary.
Moreover, while the new Texas program would
pay the bill for construction, it would not pay most
of the ongoing costs for operating and maintaining
the new facilities. Thus, going ahead with
construction would cost county taxpayers millions
per year in added costs once the beds were built.
Tarrant County decided that it could protect the
public better, serve delinquent youth more
effectively, and save county taxpayers more money
by investing a continuum of non-residential,
community-based responses to delinquency. In
doing so, the county ratified its reputation as a lone
ranger in a state where “ law and order” have
reigned for decades and “ zero tolerance”
increasingly rules juvenile justice.
THE TARRANT COUNTY CONTINUUM
The above anecdote offers just one illustration of
how Tarrant County’ s approach differs from
conventional practice both in Texas and
nationwide. During the 1990s, the Texas Youth
Commission nearly tripled the number of youth
it incarcerated each night in state training schools.
Most county probation agencies in Texas also
took increasingly hard line approaches toward
juvenile offenders. Many erected new boot
camps or other correctional centers, and many
expanded their pre-trial detention centers – further
adding to the number of youth incarcerated
statewide.
Tarrant County, home to the city of Fort Worth,
took a different approach. Instead of building
detention and correctional facilities, Tarrant
County developed an array of programs and
BUILDING A COMMUNITY-BASED CONTINUUM
TARRANT COUNTY (TX) JUVENILE SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Less Cost, More Safety 17
punishments to sanction juvenile offenders while
at home. Instead of sending large numbers of
youth to state correctional institutions, Tarrant
County placed most delinquents into nonresidential
programs. Instead of placing youth
accused of less serious offenses on routine
probation – providing few services and little support
– Tarrant enrolled most into rigorous counseling,
community service, and/or youth development
programs designed to reverse behavior problems
before they escalated into serious criminality.
Tarrant County Advocate Program. Back in
1992, Tarrant County juvenile services director
Carey Cockerell began scouring the nation for local
correctional programs that could serve as
alternatives to committing young offenders to the
Texas Youth Commission (which operates the
state’ s correctional training schools), or to
residential treatment facilities for adolescents that
cost the county up to $200 per day (and produced
only mixed success). Cockerell seized upon Youth
Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP), an operation based
in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that has provided
intensive support and supervision to more than fifty
thousand delinquent and troubled youth over the
past 25 years in seven states and the District of
Columbia.
Designed as an alternative both to pre-trial detention
and to incarceration and other out-of-home
placements following adjudication, YAP trains and
assigns local community residents to serve as
advocates for troubled teens. These advocates
mentor and monitor the youth, and they facilitate
a child/family team including neighbors, volunteers,
professional staff (such as child welfare workers, or
clinical social workers) relatives, parents, and youth
themselves. By keeping close tabs on delinquent
youth, the advocate programs offer a cost-effective
alternative to confinement for youth who pose no
immediate danger to themselves or others. In addition,
advocates facilitate a “ wraparound” services approach
that helps youth and their families build on their
strengths, solicit needed counseling and support
services, and stabilize behavior problems.
With funding from Cockerell’ s agency, YAP
established the Tarrant County Advocate Program
(TCAP) late in 1992 in one high-crime Fort Worth
neighborhood. Within a year, the commitments to
secure juvenile corrections facilities dropped by 44
percent for youth in the targeted neighborhood. In
1999, TCAP served 385 young people. Despite a
record of multiple prior arrests among many
participants, 91 percent of the young people
discharged from the program did not incur a more
serious delinquent charge (although some youth
were re-arrested on minor charges) during their 4-
6 month stay in the program. In 2000, TCAP’ s
success rate dipped to 78 percent.13
A Comprehensive Continuum. Today, TCAP
is only one element in a comprehensive continuum
of services and sanctions for youthful offenders in
Tarrant County. Other program offerings include:
 Community service restitution and
monetary restitution, in which youth are
court-ordered to perform 30-100 hours of
service or make a financial payment to victims.
During 2000, 996 juveniles completed 19,775
hours of work for local community agencies.
In addition, Tarrant County juvenile offenders
made monetary restitution payments of more
than $65,000.


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American Youth Policy Forum 18
San Diego County
The Comprehensive Strategy
Like Tarrant County, San Diego County (CA) is also working hard to build a continuum of local sanctions
and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. San Diego was one of the first communities in the
nation to receive federal funding to implement the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s
“Comprehensive Strategy” against juvenile violence.
In 1996, San Diego embarked on an intensive study and planning effort involving more than 200 area
leaders. Since then, it has mounted an impressive flurry of new activity aimed at reducing youth crime
and promoting the healthy development of young people. New efforts include: intensive full-day programs
for high-risk first offenders and for other youth at risk of out-of-home placements, significantly expanded
adolescent substance abuse treatment, new after-school programming, and new comprehensive community
centers to serve youth and their families.
San Diego has raised well over $10 million to support these efforts since 1996. However, while far more
extensive than the services offered in most jurisdictions, the county’s new model programs still serve only
a fraction of the juvenile population that could benefit. San Diego’s once serious detention overcrowding
problem has begun to ease as the detention population declined from 630 in 1998 to 470 in 1999.
However, the detention rate remains high in relation to other jurisdictions of similar size.
CONTACT:
David Simmons
Director, Comprehensive Strategy
The Children’s Initiative
4438 Ingraham Street
San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: (619) 490-1670
 Family preservation, providing intensive
home-based counseling for troubled youth and
their families. The program offers a
combination of counseling, 24-hour crisis
intervention, and training in social skills (such
as parenting, anger management, conflict
resolution and problem solving) for families of
emotionally disturbed youth at risk for
commitment to the Texas Youth Commission
(TYC). In 1999 and 2000, 389 of the 455
youth (85.5 percent) completing the program
successfully averted a TYC placement. For
the life of the program (January 1992 through
July 2000), just 103 of 1,141 participants (9
percent) were subsequently committed to TYC,
and three-fourths of the remaining participants
had no subsequent contact with the juvenile
court.
 Juvenile Drug Court, which offers substanceabusing
youth the opportunity to enroll in
supervised drug treatment as an alternative to
formal probation. Youth are monitored closely
in their treatment and drug tested regularly, and
charges are dismissed when and if youth
complete their course of treatment successfully.
Of 172 youth who exited the program in 2000,
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Less Cost, More Safety 19
135 (78 percent) graduated successfully, while
35 were returned to court to face formal
charges. Juvenile Drug Court participants
submitted 1,958 urinalysis drug tests during
2000, of which 257 (13 percent) showed a
positive result for illicit drugs.
 Non-residential sex offender treatment,
provided by thee local community agencies to
youth accused of indecent exposure, indecency
with a younger child, or sexual assault. As of
January 2001, only one of the 183 youth
enrolled into the program from 1998-2000
committed a new sexual offense. In 2000, 66
of 72 youth (92 percent) completing the
program were successful, meaning that they
completed the requirements of the treatment
and were committed to the Texas Youth
Authority or placed into residential treatment
 Intensive supervision probation (ISP) for
juvenile probationers at highest risk for
placement into TYC. Unlike the ISP programs
in many other counties, the Tarrant County
ISP staff not only supervise youthful offenders
and monitor their compliance with curfews and
probation orders. They also support families
and provide referrals to academic, vocational,
and counseling programs that help keep highrisk
youth away from trouble. Of 304
offenders completing ISP in 2000, 82 percent
completed the program without being
committed to TYC or other residential
placements, or transferred to stand trial as an
adult. This success rate was well above a stateimposed
standard of 75 percent.
CROSS-COUNTY CONTRAST
Unlike most large jurisdictions in Texas, Tarrant
County operates no local boot camp or correctional
ranch programs for adolescent offenders.
Moreover, Tarrant’ s juvenile detention center
(housing adolescent offenders pending trial) has
just 72 beds – many fewer than the detention
facilities of other large counties in Texas or
nationwide. Beyond detention, Tarrant County
utilizes only two small residential programs for
juvenile offenders. One uses a 16-bed wing of
the county detention center for short-term (10-
20 days) confinement of youth who violate
probation (instead of immediate commitment to
TYC); and the second – a new program in 2000
– uses another 16-bed unit to provide intensive
treatment and supervision for juvenile sex
offenders.
Nor has Tarrant County followed the path of
many Texas counties by sending as many young
people as possible to the state corrections agency,
thereby avoiding the expense of punishing and
supervising offenders locally. Tarrant County
committed an average of 185 teens per year to
TYC between 1996 and 1998. That’ s 35 percent
fewer than the average (285) committed by Bexar
County (San Antonio) which has almost an identical
population as Tarrant, and barely half the average
number (336) committed by neighboring Dallas
County (whose population is only 50 percent
larger than Tarrant’ s).
Right Next Door and a World Apart. In fact,
comparing Tarrant County with Dallas County
offers perhaps the most vivid evidence of how
0
100
200
300
400
500
Secure Detention per 100,000 juveniles)
County-Sponsored Correctional Beds:(per 100,000 juveniles)
Annual Commitments to TYC (1996-98)
(per 100,000 juveniles)
1998 Total Out-of-Home Placements Rate(per 100,000 juveniles)
1998 County Spending for Juvenile Probation(per juvenile ages 10-17)
TARRANT COUNTY VS. DALLAS COUNTY
JUVENILE PROBATION PROGRAMS, SERVICES AND COSTS
Tarrant County
Dallas County
Total Juvenile Populations:
Tarrant County (149,407), Dallas County (245,838)
Sources: Data supplied by Tarrant and Dallas County Probation Departments.
48.2
91.1
21.4
74.8
123.8
136.7
231
417
$105
$195
American Youth Policy Forum 20
sharply Tarrant County differs in its approach
to juvenile crime from most Texas counties – and
how much more cost-effective its non-punitive
continuum is in reigning in juvenile crime and reducing
recidivism. Dallas and Tarrant share an airport and a
30 mile border as well as a similar history, similar
demographics, and a similar economy. Yet the
juvenile justice systems of Dallas and Tarrant Counties
are a world apart.
Dallas County, with a youth population of 212,000,
operates a juvenile detention facility with 224 beds to
confine youths awaiting trial or pending correctional
placement. Dallas County also operates two local
correctional facilities with capacity for 184 youth.
Tarrant County, with a juvenile population two-thirds
as large as Dallas County (144,000 vs. 212,000),
maintains one-third as many detention beds (72 versus
224), and – unlike Dallas – Tarrant County maintains
only the 32 local correctional beds detailed above.
Nonetheless, Tarrant County sends many fewer
juvenile offenders to TYC than Dallas County. (See
Table p.19) Overall in 1998, Dallas County placed
almost twice as many youth into out-of-home
dispositions per capita as Tarrant County (417 versus
231 per 100,000). Dallas taxpayers also spent far
more local tax dollars on juvenile justice than Tarrant
– $42 million per year (equal to $200 per young
person in the county) versus $15 million in Tarrant
($105 per young person). Yet juvenile crime rates
dropped substantially in both counties during the
1990s, and they look quite similar today. Dallas County
had higher rates of juvenile murder, rape, and robbery
from 1995-97, Tarrant County suffered higher rates
of aggravated assault and a higher overall juvenile
arrest rate.
LESS COST, MORE SAFETY
By spurning calls to build more detention cells and
place more youth into expensive confinement
programs, Tarrant County has saved local taxpayers
millions. And contrary to the fears of an alarmed
public, Tarrant’ s home-based, treatment-oriented
approach has led to a substantial reduction in juvenile
crime. In fact, the failure rates of youth enrolled in
Tarrant County’ s community corrections programs
consistently rank among the lowest of any urban
county in Texas. Likewise, an August 2000 report
from Texas’ non-partisan Criminal Justice Policy
Council found that the long-term recidivism rates of
Tarrant County youth placed into non-incarceration
programs are second lowest of Texas’ major urban
counties. Less cost, more safety.
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
Effective Treatment for Delinquent and Troubled
Youth, Public Safety, Cost-Effectiveness
Juvenile offenders in Tarrant County
Continuum of non-residential sanctions and services,
minimum reliance on detention, incarceration, or
other expensive out-of-home confinement
Tarrant County, Texas Juvenile Probation
Commission
Reduced juvenile crime rates since early ‘ 90s; very
low failure rates for youth in local probation
programs
Carey Cockerell, Director
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
2701 Kimbo Road
Fort Worth, TX 76111
Phone: (817) 838_4600; Fax: (817) 838_4646
Program Type County Probation Agency
Less Cost, More Safety 21
CHALLENGE #3:
 

 

  

 
 
“ To date, most of the resources committed to the prevention and control of youth violence, both at the
national and local levels, have been invested in untested programs based on questionable assumptions and
delivered with little consistency or quality control.” 14
Delbert Elliot, Director, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
Twenty-five years ago, a prestigious study panel
examined the evidence that had been gathered
to that time about the effectiveness of
rehabilitation programs for adult and juvenile
offenders. Their findings were stark – and
became popularized in some circles as providing
the definitive word that “ nothing works” in
rehabilitation.15
In fact, these researchers never found that nothing
works – only that social scientists had yet to validate
rehabilitation strategies in careful scientific trials.
Nonetheless, the reality as recently as 20 years
ago was that we had little evidence that any
particular models made a marked difference in
controlling crime or delinquency.
In 2001, those seem like the dark ages.
Over the past two decades prevention and juvenile
justice policy innovators have developed and
validated a number of intervention models that
substantially lower either recidivism by youthful
offenders or the onset of delinquent behavior by
youth at risk for delinquency.
Some pundits and political leaders today still like
to pretend that nothing works, that prevention is
just a dangerous waste of money. On the other
hand, some advocates like to pretend that we
always knew how to prevent crime – that it’ s just
common sense. The reality is that only in the past
two decades have we begun to figure out what
works and doesn’ t work – and some of those
findings have been unexpected.
For youth already engaged in delinquency, three
models have emerged as proven, powerful
successes. All three work with young people in
their own homes and communities, rather than
in institutions, and they focus heavily on the
family environment. One strategy, called
Multisystemic Therapy (MST), has reduced future
days in corrections or residential treatment by at
least 47 percent in eight scientific trials. MST costs
only about $6,000 per youth, less than one-fourth
the cost of an eight-month stay in juvenile
corrections.
Another home-based strategy, Functional Family
Therapy, has reduced the recidivism rates of
delinquent youth by 25 to 80 percent in repeated
trials dating back to 1972. It costs only $2,000 per
youth. The third model, Multidimensional
Treatment Foster Care, combines short-term,
therapeutic foster care with intensive counseling
for the natural family, followed by rapid reunification
and ongoing support. It reduced
subsequent offending by more than 50 percent
among chronic delinquents, a recent study found,
and saved more than $14 in future justice system
costs for each extra dollar spent on the treatment.
Despite these successes, however, none of these
models is in widespread use today. Multisystemic
Therapy and Functional Family Therapy each
served approximately 5,000 young people in 2000
– this in a nation that arrests more than 2.5 million
adolescents each year and confines more than
100,000 every night. Likewise, despite its
overwhelming advantages over other forms of
American Youth Policy Forum 22
PUTTING RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE
YOUTH VILLAGES IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
treatment, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care
is being replicated in only a handful of sites
nationwide.
By heeding the research, by replicating what works,
America has an opportunity to substantially improve
its success against juvenile crime.
During his first 13 years at the helm of Youth
Villages, a youth-serving agency based in Memphis,
Tennessee, Patrick Lawler helped the nonprofit grow
from three residential treatment facilities serving 25
emotionally disturbed youth around Memphis to 23
residences serving 240 youth throughout Tennessee
as well as in Mississippi and Arkansas.
The only problem was, despite long and expensive
stays in its residential treatment facilities, many of the
young people served by Youth Villages relapsed into
delinquency or other problem behaviors soon after
leaving. As with similar systems across the country,
Lawler’ s agency was never punished for this problem,
because Tennessee never required residential
treatment providers to monitor the long-term success
of participants. “ The state would ask us at the end of
each year what we did with their money,” Lawler
recalls, “ and we would tell them the truth: we spent
it.”
In 1993, Lawler hired a local MBA candidate to
examine his operation with fresh eyes. Not only were
many youth being incarcerated or returning to
residential treatment after leaving Youth Villages, the
study found, but the families of troubled youth were
often plagued with urgent needs, and no one was
helping them.
LOOKING TO THE RESEARCH
Based on this report, Lawler looked to the research
and turned Youth Villages’ operations upside down.
Multisystemic Therapy. First Lawler identified
Multisystemic Therapy (MST), a non-residential
model designed by University of South Carolina
psychologist Scott Henggeler. MST employs trained
mental health counselors to work with troubled teens
in their homes, engaging not just the young person
but his or her whole family based on the understanding
that most adolescent misbehavior can be traced back
to the family system. Therapists seek to determine
the negative dynamics that propel the young person
toward delinquency – be they poor parenting,
substance abuse, a learning disability, or attachment
to delinquent peers. The therapist engages the family
in strategies to overcome these root problems, while
at the same time coaching parents in behavior
management strategies to begin re-establishing order
and respect in the home. During the process, therapists
might refer the youth, parents, or even siblings to a
wide range of possible supports – a substance abuse
program, a job placement service, an after-school
youth program, whatever it takes to overcome the
problems and stabilize the family.
Henggeler’ s model has been tested in eight scientific
trials since 1986. In every case, it dramatically reduced
the number of days that delinquent and otherwise
trouble youth spend in corrections or residential
treatment compared with conventional treatment
strategies. Violent and chronic offenders treated with
MST in rural South Carolina had 43 percent fewer
arrests, committed 66 percent fewer self-reported
offenses, and spent 64 percent fewer weeks in youth
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Less Cost, More Safety 23
prisons or treatment centers than youth randomly
assigned to usual court sanctions and treatments.16
(See Table #2.) In Columbia, Missouri, youth who
completed MST showed a five-year re-arrest rate of
22.1 percent – less than one-third that of youth who
completed individual therapy (71.4 percent). In two
other clinical studies, MST reduced days spent in outof-
home placements by 47 percent and 50 percent
compared with youth treated in traditional programs.17
Multisystemic Therapy costs about $6,000 per youth,
far less than incarceration or placement into a group
home or residential treatment center.
Based on this track record, Lawler began hiring and
training a new breed of counselors in 1993 to engage
the families of troubled young people using the MST
model. The first and most important step for these
counselors was to examine the underlying conditions
in a young person’ s life, and then to “ find the fit” –
the causal connection through which problem
behaviors are the logical outcome of a young person’ s
overall life situation. The next crucial step was to
identify strengths and assets in the young person’ s
life that might reverse the problem. MST therapists
at Youth Villages helped youth pursue personal interests
and goals by connecting them with activities in
anything from employment to sports to computers –
and thereby weakened the young people’ s attachments
to anti-social peers. At the same time, MST therapists
worked with parents, teachers, and other responsible
adults to promote responsible behavior. Therapists
concentrated most on caretakers – helping them
overcome their own psychological, emotional, and
substance abuse issues, and teaching caretakers to
provide positive and consistent structure and
discipline within the home. Once the young
person’ s behavior was stabilized, counselors
focused on building an ongoing support system for
the family to ensure success after the MST process
concluded.
Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care. In
1996, Lawler identified another research-based
program, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care.
Designed in Oregon to help serve troubled youth
whose families remained unprepared to care for them,
the program offers two key services simultaneously:
1) short-term therapeutic foster care, in which troubled
youth live with trained foster parents who employ
strict behavioral monitoring with support from a
licensed therapist; and 2) intensive counseling and
parenting skills training for the youths’ parent(s)
or legal guardian(s). After six to nine months,
following a series of increasingly frequent and
lengthy visits home, the families are reunited.
Ongoing counseling continues until the home
0.87
1.52
5.8
16.2
Arrests Weeks in Out-of-Home
Placements
MST
Usual Services
MULTISYSTEMIC THERAPY VERSUS USUAL JUVENILE JUSTICE SERVICES
FOR SERIOUS ADOLESCENT OFFENDERS
Results of a Randomized Trial in Simpsonville, SC
59 Weeks After Treatment
Source: Henggeler, Scott W., Treating Serious Anti-Social Behavior in Youth: The MST Approach (Washington, DC:
Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, May 1997).
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
0
5
10
15
20
American Youth Policy Forum 24
situation is stable and the young person is reacclimated
to his or her home environment.
Like MST, Multidimensional Treatment Foster
Care has a strong foundation in research. In one
clinical trial with serious and chronic youthful
offenders, youth participating in Multidimensional
Treatment Foster Care proved twice as likely as
youth placed into groups homes to complete the
program (and not run away), and they spent an
average of 75 fewer days incarcerated over the
subsequent two years.18 (See Table #3.) In
another trial focused on very serious offenders,
youth in Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care
were arrested less than half as often as youth sent
to group homes (2.6 vs. 5.4 arrests). They also
spent less than half as many days incarcerated
following treatment and were six times as likely to
remain arrest free in the year after treatment (41
percent to seven percent).19 As a result, the
treatment foster care program saved $14 in justice
costs for each dollar spent on treatment.
For Youth Villages, the addition of Multidimensional
Treatment Foster Care filled an important gap
between its continuing residential treatment services
and its new in-home (MST) therapy. By adding
MST and Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care,
Youth Villages created a comprehensive continuum
of services for troubled youth ranging from homebased
(MST) counseling to treatment foster care
to residential treatment and hospitalization.
BRINGING SUCCESS TO SCALE
As the clinical trials predicted, Youth Villages’
success rates soared using the MST and
Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care models,
while costs plummeted. More than 80 percent of
youth participating in the new program (which cost
as little as $6,000 per youth) continued to live
successfully at home one year after treatment,
Lawler reports, compared to about 63 percent of
youth one year after returning home from the old
residential treatment program (which ran more than
$50,000 for a typical ten-month stay).
Launching these family-oriented programs was the
easy part, however. Lawler then had to convince
state bureaucrats to pay for them. He also had to
build in sophisticated supervision and accountability
systems to ensure that programs which worked well
in small-scale tests remained successful when
implemented agency-wide.
Changing Funding Formulas to Reward
Success. Historically, Tennessee’ s policy for serving
emotionally disturbed youth – like the policies of
many other states – was simple: if a young person
is a danger to oneself or others, the state would
pay for hospitalization or placement into residential
treatment center or group home. If the troubled
young person was not a danger, the state provided
little support beyond out-patient counseling from
underfunded and ill-equipped county mental health
departments. Funding for intensive, family-focused
treatment had no place in the state’ s plans, and
reimbursement for any agency providing these
services was not permitted.
Thus, while Youth Villages’ received up to $200
per day from Tennessee for each young person in
its longstanding residential programs, it could not
collect a penny from the state for its $65-$70 per
day MST program – even though the home-based
services were producing better outcomes than the
more-expensive residential treatment.
Based on the success of Youth Villages’ initial tests
of MST (funded with private grants), Lawler began
seeking a change in state funding. For two years,
state officials ignored his calls. Finally in 1995,
with a new governor in office and the state budget
in deep deficit, Tennessee accepted Youth Villages’
offer to tear up its existing contracts, serve onethird
more youth for the same money, and for the
first time guarantee positive outcomes for most
youth following treatment. In return, Youth Villages
gained the freedom to offer a continuum of services,
including both home-based and residential
treatment.
Thanks to its growing use of MST and treatment
foster care, Youth Villages served 1,600 Tennessee
youth in 2000 – four times the number it served in
1993. Many spent a short time in residential
treatment, but most proceeded quickly to familyfocused
non-residential therapy. Eighty percent
Less Cost, More Safety 25
Putting Proven Models Into Practice:
Washington State’s Community Juvenile Accountability Act
In 1995, Washington State juvenile justice leaders had a bold idea. Based on increasingly compelling
research showing that a small handful of chronic offenders commit the bulk of all serious juvenile crime,
they convinced Washington’s legislature to support a new early intervention program – funding counties
to provide enhanced treatment services and supervision for their highest-risk youth offenders.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. A preliminary evaluation by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy,
a state-funded research agency, found that youth enrolled into the enhanced programs proved no less
likely to re-offend than non-participating youth. In implementing the program, most counties had simply
intensified their existing strategies without consulting the research into what works.
Based on this experience, Washington’s legislature enacted a new law in 1997, the Community Juvenile
Accountability Act (CJAA). It promised new funding for local juvenile courts, but only for programs with
proven power to reduce re-offending rates cost-effectively. After the law was passed, the Institute for
Public Policy searched for juvenile justice intervention program models with proven impact, and then it
conducted elaborate cost-benefit analyses to demonstrate that the models were indeed cost-effective.20
Consulting with local court officials, the Institute identified five programs for potential replication using the
CJAA funding stream – Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multisystemic Therapy (MST), both profiled
in Challenge #3, along with less intensive program models to control aggression, provide community
mentors, and improve coordination among agencies serving delinquent and high-risk youth.
Following a statewide training conference, local officials from the state’s 34 local juvenile courts initially
selected to implement only two of the models – FFT and “Anger Replacement Therapy,” a 10-week
behavioral skills training curriculum. The State legislature appropriated $7.65 million to support these two
programs from July 1999 through June 2001, and three counties also established MST programs using
federal block grant funds.
As of August 2000, Washington’s counties had developed more than 40 local replication programs and
enrolled more than 2,000 youth. The Institute for Public Policy has begun an intensive evaluation comparing
the outcomes for participating youth with those for similar youth placed on waiting lists. While program
evaluation outcomes will not be known until 2002, Policy Institute analyst Steve Aos believes the program
is already a success. The extensive consultation between his agency and local juvenile courts has helped
break down longstanding mistrust between the state and local officials, Aos says: “It meets a test of
intergovernmental cooperation that is often lacking....
“For the state level,” Aos says, “it has been positive because the state is saying for the first time that we’re
only going to put our money into programs with a track record of success.”21
CONTACT:
Robert Barnoski, Senior Research Associate
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
110 E. Fifth Avenue, Suite 214
Olympia, WA 98504-0999
(360) 586-2744
American Youth Policy Forum 26
will remain home successfully for at least nine
months. Based on these results, Tennessee has made
its arrangement with Youth Villages the model for
all contracts to serve troubled adolescents statewide.
As a result, Youth Villages now employs 100 MST
counselors and clinical supervisors and serves more
than 500 families in MST per year, making Youth
Villages by far the largest provider of MST services
in the nation. Likewise, Youth Villages serves 420
youth every day in Multidimensional Treatment
Foster Care, making it one of only a handful sites
nationwide to adopt this powerful intervention
model.
However, in neighboring Arkansas (as in most
states), rules still forbid payments for most home
based services. Arkansas contracts with Youth
Villages to care for troubled adolescents, but only
in residential treatment centers, not in home-based
counseling. As a result, Arkansas pays more to
reap less safety and less success.
Ensuring Program Quality. Unlike many therapy
methods, MST is highly regimented. The program
is based on nine core principles, and the process
for implementing these principles is spelled out in
exacting detail in MST program manuals.
Moreover, MST calls for therapists to review each
case three times per week – once with their
supervisor, once with the supervisor plus other
therapists on their treatment team, and once with a
senior MST clinical consultant. Likewise,
Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care is guided
by a specific treatment philosophy and a clear set
of treatment procedures.
In his ongoing research into the effectiveness of
MST, program designer Scott Henggeler has found
that fidelity to these program requirements is a
critical factor for success. While no clinical trial of
MST has resulted in failure, Henggeler has found
in several studies that participants achieve far better
outcomes when providers follow the MST
guidelines. For instance, when MST was tested
against usual juvenile justice services for juvenile
offenders in Orangeburg and Spartanburg, South
Carolina, an analysis of therapists reports “ indicated
that outcomes were substantially better in cases
where treatment adherence ratings were high.” 22
For many local nonprofit and county mental health
agencies, adhering to these exacting procedures and
strict standards is unfamiliar and difficult. However,
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
MTFC
Group Homes
MULTIDIMENSIONAL TREATMENT FOSTER CARE VERSUS GROUP HOMES
Results of a Randomized Trial for Chronic Juvenile Offenders
Population: Delinquent boys averaging 13 prior arrests and 4.6 felony arrests.
Source: Chamberlain, Patricia, Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Book Eight: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care
(Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, 1998).
0
10
20
30
40
50
0
30
60
90
120
150
Arrests No Further Arrests Average Number of Days
Incarcerated
2.6
5.4
41
7
53
129
Less Cost, More Safety 27
under Patrick Lawler, Youth Villages has won
several awards for innovative management and
quality assurance, including two “ Excellence in
Service Quality” awards from the United Way of
America. Youth Villages’ capacity to develop the
elaborate quality assurance systems required to
implement complex programs effectively has been
an important key to its success in bringing promising
research into productive practice.
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Youth Villages, Inc.
Effective Treatment of Emotionally Disturbed and
Delinquent Youth
Youth with emotional disturbances who have been
placed into residential treatment programs
Continuum of care including home-based counseling
using the acclaimed Multisystemic Therapy (MST)
model, and treatment foster care using a proven
program model developed in Oregon
Tennessee Department of Children’ s Services, States
of Mississippi and Arkansas
Reduced cost-per-participant and substantially
improved success rates for Youth Villages
participants since adoption of MST and treatment
foster care models
Patrick W. Lawler, Administrator
Youth Villages, Inc.
P.O. Box 341154
Memphis, TN 38184-1154
Phone: (901) 252-7200; Fax: (901) 252-7280
www.youthvillages.org
Program Type Private, Nonprofit Youth Serving Agency
American Youth Policy Forum 28
CHALLENGE #4:
        

  



 
 
“ The lack of consistent intervention with juvenile offenders soon after their initial contact with the police
or other authorities has long been recognized as perhaps the single largest gap in services for troubled
youth.” 23
National Council on Crime and Delinquency
In 1972, Marvin Wolfgang and his colleagues at
the University of Pennsylvania published a
seminal study, Delinquency in a Birth Cohort,
which tracked delinquency and criminal behavior
among ten thousand Philadelphians born in 1945
throughout childhood, adolescence and young
adulthood.24 Wolfgang repeated the analysis with
more than 25,000 youth born in 1958, and in recent
years several more cohort studies have been
conducted by other criminologists.25 In each of
these studies, a small group of boys – just six to
eight percent – committed the majority of all
serious and violent juvenile crimes. For instance,
Wolfgang’ s second analysis found that seven
percent of Philadelphia youth committed 61 percent
of all offenses, 65 percent of all aggravated assaults,
60 percent of homicides, 75 percent of rapes, and
73 percent of robberies.26 The implications are
obvious: To be effective in reducing youth crime,
prevention and intervention efforts must target
those young people at highest risk to become
chronic offenders.
More recently, delinquency scholars have identified
clear developmental pathways that children follow
on the way to becoming chronic delinquents and
then adult criminals. Experts have isolated critical
“ risk” and “ protective” factors that influence
whether or not a young person will turn to
delinquency and – if they do – whether they will
persist in criminal behavior over time. Also, juvenile
justice agencies have consistently found that young
people arrested at an early age are far more likely
than other youth to become chronic juvenile
offenders. Together, these findings make it possible
for juvenile courts and juvenile justice agencies to
identify early those youth who are at extreme risk
for serious delinquency – and then to develop
intensive programming targeting these highest-risk
youth.
However, the reality throughout our nation is that
few local juvenile justice systems take the time to
assess objectively the risk of re-offending for firsttime
youthful offenders – even for second- or thirdor
seventh-time offenders – provided they have
not yet committed a crime serious enough to spark
the attention of a juvenile court prosecutor, judge
or probation officer. The result, writes the National
Council on Crime and Delinquency, is an “ all-toocommon
pattern: several encounters with
authorities; short-term detentions with no coherent,
intensive interventions; repeated offenses; and
eventual incarceration in juvenile and adult
correctional facilities.” 27
In recent years, a handful of jurisdictions have
begun to break that pattern. Beginning with Orange
County, CA, these trailblazers are showing that
chronic criminal careers can be nipped in the bud.
Less Cost, More Safety 29
NIPPING CRIMINAL CAREERS IN THE BUD
THE 8 PERCENT SOLUTION, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
     

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As research director for the Orange County,
California Probation Department in the late 1980s,
Gwen Kurz began studying the county’ s young
offender population. The good news, she found,
was that 70 percent of Orange County youth
referred to juvenile court never returned, and
another 22 percent came back only once or twice
within three years. However, there was a small
group – 8 percent of all offenders ever referred to
juvenile court – who appeared four or more times
within three years. These chronic offenders
committed more than half of all repeat juvenile
crimes. They reappeared in juvenile or adult court
an average of eight times in the six years following
their initial referral to juvenile court, and nearly all
committed at least one very serious and/or violent
crime. The chronic offenders were incarcerated
an average of 20 months over the three years at a
cost of $44,000 each.28
Kurz and her boss, Michael Schumacher, then
began looking for traits that would predict these
chronic offenders at the first offense. They found
that the youth most likely to became chronic
delinquents differed from other juvenile offenders
in two ways. First, those arrested at a young age
(before 16) were far more likely than other youth
offenders to become chronic delinquents. Second,
youth who exhibited multiple problems – family
discord, school failure, substance abuse, and/or predelinquent
behavior – were at highest risk for
recurring lawbreaking.
Based on this research, Orange County developed
an intensive intervention program for youth meeting
the “ 8 percent” profile. Specifically, the county
created an objective assessment instrument to
determine which young people referred to juvenile
court on delinquency charges were: a) first-time
offenders; b) 15 or younger; and c) suffering three
or more risk factors. The county then placed
youth who met these criteria into an all-day
program operating five days per week. The county
monitored the success of the likely chronic
offenders and found that only 49 percent suffered
subsequent adjudications in the 12 months after
enrollment, barely half the historic re-arrest rate
(93 percent) for youth with the same profile.29
Based on this initial success, Orange County has
expanded the program to serve 350 youth countywide,
and it is utilizing a rigorous evaluation design
to compare the outcomes for extreme-risk youth
enrolled in the program with outcomes for youth
with equivalent profiles who are randomly assigned
to conventional juvenile court services and
sanctions. Preliminary results are highly favorable,
making Orange County’ s “ 8 Percent Solution” one
of the most promising models in our nation’ s
evolving efforts to bring adolescent crime under
control.
IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL “8
PERCENT YOUTH”
As part of its strategic planning efforts preparing to
enter the 1990s, the Orange County Probation
Department analyzed two cohorts of more than
3,000 youthful offenders – one comprised of youth
who entered the county’ s juvenile justice system
for the first time during the first half of 1985, the
other entering during the first half of 1987. After
determining that only a small number (i.e., 8
percent) were chronic offenders, Kurz and
Schumacher pored over the data to identify
characteristics that would identify these potential
chronic offenders early.
American Youth Policy Forum 30
One factor jumped out right away: age. The data
revealed that 57 percent of all chronic offenders
were 15 or younger when they were first
adjudicated. Moreover, youth first adjudicated at
age 15 or younger were four times as likely (32
percent) to become chronic offenders as youth first
adjudicated at ages 16 or above (8 percent).
Finding additional factors proved more complex,
because (other than age) no single problem or
characteristic could be found in all or most chronic
offenders. However, the data did show that future
chronic offenders displayed an unusually wide
range of difficulties during their initial screening
interviews. Based on this finding, the county
crafted a “ Multi-Problem Factor” to identify
problems in four domains:
 School performance/behavior, including
attendance problems (truancy or frequent
absenteeism); behavior problems (recent
suspensions or expulsions); and/or academic
failure (failing grades).
 Family problem factor, including poor parental
supervision/control (parent[s] unaware of
where child goes, with whom, etc., and report
little influence over these matters); significant
family problems (illness, substance abuse,
trauma, financial crisis, etc.); criminal family
members exerting influence on the youth; and/
or documented child abuse or neglect, or other
family violence.
 Substance abuse factor, including any use
beyond experimentation.
 Delinquency factor, including pattern of
stealing, pattern of running away from home,
and/or gang membership or affiliation.
Remarkably, among youth suffering with problems
in three or more of these domains who were
referred to juvenile court before age 16, 93 percent
became chronic offenders.
THE “8 PERCENT” PROGRAM
MODEL
Once Orange County had developed the screening
tools to identify likely chronic offenders in their
initial contact with the juvenile court, the next
challenge was to design an intervention program
that would effectively steer these youth away from
delinquency.
County staff scoured the research literature
regarding what works with juvenile offenders and
other troubled adolescents. Then they decided upon
a multi-pronged approach centered around a new
“ Youth and Family Resource Center.” Core
elements of the approach include:
 All-day academic and youth development
programming. All youth are picked up at or
near their homes every morning and delivered
to one of five Youth and Family Resource
Centers operated by the county Probation
Department. Once there, participants spend
most of the morning receiving academic
instruction from county board of education
teachers. In the afternoons, students typically
participate in recreation, study hall, community
service projects or life skills workshops.
8 Percent Participants
Non-Participating Control Group
"8 PERCENT SOLUTION" PROGRAM,
ORANGE COUNTY, CA
IMPACT ON MULTIPLE RE-OFFENDING*
Percentage Arrested Two or More
Times After Program Entry
* Analysis based on juveniles who had reached their 12-
month post-assignment date as of June 30, 2000.
Source: Data provided via e-mail by Ms. Shirley Hunt,
Orange County Probation Department, December 2000.
0
10
20
30
40
50
33.8
48.5
Less Cost, More Safety 31
 Family involvement and counseling. In
addition to teachers, each Youth and Family
Resource Center (serving 30-60 youth) is
staffed with two therapists trained in both
individual and family counseling, two in-home
counselors from a private counseling agency,
a county drug/alcohol specialist who counsels
both youth and their parents, a nurse
practitioner who helps the entire family secure
needed medical care, and 4.5 full-time staff
from a community-based agency providing parent
education, teen parenting training, and community
service programming for youth and their families.
 Focus on substance abuse. Because roughly
two-thirds of Orange County’ s “ 8 Percent”
youth abuse drugs and/or alcohol, the program
offers every participant at least one hour of
substance abuse education or counseling every
week. Youth known to regularly abuse
substances or come from families where
substance abuse is problematic receive more
in-depth treatment, as well as drug testing and
home inspections from county probation staff.
MEASURING SUCCESS – THE “8
PERCENT” DIVIDEND
Since 1997, Orange County has been participating
in a rigorous evaluation of its intervention program
for potential chronic offenders. After completing
a screening interview to determine whether first
time offenders meet the criteria for participation in
the program – i.e., below 16 with three or more
problem areas – the county randomly assigned
some youth to the program and others to a control
group receiving normal court services and
sanctions. Initial results from this evaluation
indicate that the program is significantly reducing
the offending behavior of extreme-risk youth.
Among the 71 youth who completed the program
by June 30, 1999, 33.8 percent committed two or
more offenses in the 12 months after program entry.
John, Rudy, and the Case for Early Intervention
“They both run from a liquor store with six-packs of beer, only to fall into the waiting arms of store
security staff. Both are ordered by the court to pick up trash for 10 weekends as their punishment. So
long as this is done, their relationship with juvenile court concludes until the next offense, if there is
one.
“Rudy is a potential 8 percenter, whereas John is not. John’s family is outraged at his behavior and
takes appropriate steps to deal with it, restricting him to home for weeks and taking away television
privileges. John is embarrassed by the whole episode and never again steps over the line of criminal
behavior.
“Rudy’s problems are much larger than stealing a six-pack of beer. The weekend trash duty will not
turn him around. He ditches school, abuses drugs, and hangs around with other kids who do the
same. His parents have little or no impact on his life, so there is no ‘righting of the ship’ after his first
brush with the law.
“The juvenile justice system may not pay much attention to Rudy until crime number three or four,
unless he seriously victimizes someone. By then, however, bad habits will have been formed. It is
often much too late.”
Excerpt from The 8% Solution: Preventing Serious, Repeat Juvenile
Crime (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000), by Michael
Schumacher and Gwen Kurz.
American Youth Policy Forum 32
By contrast, 48.5 percent of control group youth
not placed into the program committed two or more
offenses during the 12-month period. (See Table
#4.) In addition, participating youth have had fewer
new court petitions, fewer arrest warrants, and
spent fewer days in custody than control group
youth in the first 12 months.30 The “ 8 Percent”
intervention program is also proving cost-effective.
With a cost of $14,000 per individual per year, the
intervention is substantially reducing future costs
for incarceration as well as damages suffered by
would-be victims of future crimes.
Based on the success of Orange County’ s
preliminary efforts, the California legislature has
funded a Repeat Offender Prevention Project since
1996 to continue the program in Orange County
and to replicate and test the early intervention
concept in seven other jurisdictions statewide.
These programs, too, include a rigorous, controlgroup
evaluation design, and results of these
programs also find that youth enrolled in targeted,
intensive early intervention services are committing
substantially fewer felony crimes than youth
assigned to control groups. Participating youth are
also failing drug tests far less often, and they are
earning significantly more school credits and higher
grades than non-participating youth.31
Though the early intervention concept is still alien
to juvenile justice agencies in most jurisdictions
nationwide, a handful of states and communities
are beginning to study and replicate this promising
approach. As Kurz and Schumacher explain, the
logic behind the strategy is obvious: “ There will
never be enough money, people, or programs to
solve all the problems faced by each youth in our
society. In the fight against juvenile crime, we
must focus our efforts on the group with the greatest
potential to burden and victimize society and the
ones most likely to fail in life. This group cries out
for our attention.” 32
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Orange County Probation Department
Reduce Chronic Offending by High Risk Youth
Juvenile offenders 15 and younger who demonstrate
high risk for chronic delinquency
Screening first-time juvenile offenders to identify
those at extreme risk chronic delinquency, intensive
day treatment for potential chronic offenders
Orange County, California Board of Corrections
Participants demonstrate significantly lower arrest
rates than similar youth receiving conventional
probation services
Jeff Corp, Director of Community Programs
Orange County Probation Department
160 W. Cerritos Ave., Building #4
Anaheim, CA 98205
Phone: (714) 687-6703; Fax: (714) 533-6884
Program Type County-Run Delinquency Intervention Program
Less Cost, More Safety 33
CHALLENGE #5:



 

  
  


 
 




 
“ Research and experience demonstrate that the services available in the juvenile justice system to alleviate
[mental health] problems are entirely inadequate.” 33
Shay Bilchik, former Administrator
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice
Young people who commit juvenile offenses
and become entangled in the juvenile justice
system suffer disproportionately from emotional
disturbances and mental illness.
By some estimates, up to 90 percent of young people
referred to juvenile courts for delinquency exhibit the
general symptoms of “ conduct disorder” or
“ oppositional defiance disorder.” The majority suffer
with problems of substance abuse or dependency.
Roughly one-third suffer with attention deficit (ADD)
or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder
are also disturbingly commonplace. Though estimates
differ, the majority of studies on the mental health
needs of juvenile offenders find that at least 20 percent
suffer severe mental health disorders.34
Despite the direct connection between delinquency
and mental health, however, our nation’ s efforts to
meet the mental health needs of adolescents are
seriously inadequate. The problems are three-fold:
 Overreliance on Out-of-Home Treatment.
One-half of all the money spent in the United
States for mental health treatment of children and
youth pays for inpatient hospitalization. Another
25 percent pays for residential care for troubled
youth in treatment centers and group homes
costing hundreds of dollars per day.35 Even
with their high costs, however, hospitalization
and other out-of-home treatments have not
proven effective in resolving the mental health
problems of youth. In 1999, U.S. Surgeon
General David Satcher concluded that
“ Inpatient [hospital] care is the clinical
intervention with the weakest research
support.” Satcher also complained that: “ In
the past, admission to [residential treatment
centers] has been justified on the basis of
community protection, child protection, and
benefits of residential treatment per se.
However, none of these justifications have
stood up to research scrutiny. In particular,
youth who display seriously violent and
aggressive behavior do not appear to improve
in such settings.” 36 In a six-state study of
children treated in publicly-funded residential
treatment centers, 75 percent were either
readmitted to a mental health facility (about
45 percent) or incarcerated in a correctional
setting (about 30 percent) within seven years.37
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Dr. David Satcher, U.S. Surgeon General
American Youth Policy Forum 34
WRAPAROUND MILWAUKEE
SYSTEMS REFORM IN A LARGE JURISDICTION
   
 

 






    

   
 




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 Underinvestment in High-Quality
Community-Based Services. The inevitable
result of America’ s overreliance on expensive
and ineffective out-of-home treatment has been
lack of investment in non-residential services
for disturbed children and adolescents. This
oversight is particularly tragic given the striking
success achieved by a handful of home-based
and family-focused mental health treatment
models. For instance, Multisystemic Therapy
(see Challenge #3) has dramatically improved
the outcomes for youth who are hospitalized
for emotionally disturbances. Likewise, socalled
“ wraparound services” (see below) –
offering customized and comprehensive
support and treatment services for youth in
their own homes – have also shown potential
to improve outcomes for troubled youth while
decreasing costs for taxpayers. However,
rather than providing these or other intensive
community-based service strategies, most
communities offer only a hodge-podge of
fragmented and outdated adolescent mental
health services.
 Lack of Coordination Between Concerned
Agencies. Typically, youth troubled with
emotional disturbances, developmental
disabilities, or other mental health problems
come in contact with multiple public agencies:
department of mental health, child protective
services, special education, juvenile justice, and
others. However, these agencies rarely
coordinate their services for youth whose cases
they share in common. As a result, treatment
and support efforts often work at cross
purposes – leaving youth and their families
confused, distrustful and ultimately
unsuccessful in controlling behavior, preventing
delinquency, and averting expensive placements
into psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers,
and juvenile corrections facilities.
In the early 1990s, the leaders of Milwaukee
County’ s mental health division had a problem. The
county was spending $18 million each year to buy
care for emotionally disturbed young people in group
homes and residential treatment programs. And it
wasn’ t working.
These youth were clearly troubled and needing
services. The majority had been arrested for
delinquent crimes. Many were a danger to themselves
and others – and the rest were at serious risk to become
a danger. However, like many jurisdictions
nationwide, Milwaukee County offered emotionally
disturbed youth only an expensive, one-size-fits-all
response: out-of-home placement. The county was
largely ignoring the homes and families from which
troubled children came – and to which they would
return – and it was not working with families to
overcome brewing problems before they reached crisis
proportions. Moreover, even youth placed into $135
per day treatment programs often failed to stabilize
their behavior or avoid relapses when they returned
home after completing the treatment.
Milwaukee County began experimenting with other
treatment options in 1989, after receiving an initial
foundation grant. In 1994 it secured a $15 million,
5-year federal grant to build an entirely new
adolescent mental treatment system, Wraparound
Milwaukee. The county’ s plan was predicated on
three elements: 1) developing the capacity to offer
intensive, comprehensive assistance to troubled youth
and their families in their own homes; 2) pooling funds
Less Cost, More Safety 35
and coordinating efforts from the various agencies
working with emotionally troubled youth; and 3)
sharply reducing the reliance on out-of-home care by
avoiding placements whenever possible and by limiting
lengths of stay for youth who are placed in residential
care.
Given the high costs of residential treatment and the
limited evidence of its effectiveness, as well as the
growing promise of wraparound and other homebased
treatment strategies for troubled youth, these
might seem like common sense solutions. In reality,
however, they are anything but commonplace. By
putting these reforms into practice – pooling $28
million per year from county agencies and Medicaid
reimbursements to fund the Wraparound program,
dramatically reducing delinquency and emotional
distress for 600-700 youth per year while keeping
these youth at home with their families – Milwaukee
County has made itself a model for the entire nation.
UNDERSTANDING THE
“WRAPAROUND” APPROACH
The “ Wraparound” philosophy was initially developed
in Canada during the 1970s, and it was transported to
the United States during the 1980s by innovators in
Alaska, Chicago, and Vermont. The concept revolves
around five fundamental principles:
 Address problems in youths’ natural
environment – i.e., home – rather than an
artificial environment, where lessons learned will
be difficult to translate when youth return home.
 Work with and listen to the whole family,
especially parents. Evidence increasingly finds
that the family system is both the most important
determinant of behavior problems and the most
important ally for therapists in reversing negative
behavior patterns. Unlike most mental health
modalities, where the professional is the “ expert”
and the individual and/or family has the problems,
wraparound is based on the belief that families
know best what they need. Thus, the job of
professionals is to help families achieve their own
goals and build the skills to sustain success.
 Individualize services based on the needs of
each youth and family, rather than employing
the one-size-fits-all approach typical in residential
treatment programs. This notion of “ wrapping”
needed services “ around” each individual young
person lies at core of the wraparound concept.
 Focus on strengths. Even the most troubled
adolescents and families have hidden aptitudes,
interests, and desires. Tapping these strengths
and building families’ capacity to anticipate and
solve problems can be critical to avoiding crises
in the future.
 Build a support system. Most youth have
relatives, family friends, or other interested adults
who care about them and are willing to provide
guidance and support. Recruiting support from
these natural allies – to be mentors, or provide a
respite for beleaguered parents – can be an
invaluable step in creating a stable environment
for young people.
WRAPAROUND – MILWAUKEE-STYLE
Milwaukee County has built a unique system for
applying wraparound principles to local needs.
Wraparound Milwaukee targets services only to
emotionally disturbed youth who are either in
residential treatment or face imminent risk of
placement. Though youth can be referred to the
program by local child welfare officials as well as the
local probation agency, most (70 percent) have a
history of delinquency and many are on probation at
the time of their referral to the Wraparound Milwaukee
program.
Wraparound Milwaukee’ s program involves four key
components:
 Care Coordinators – The county’ s Wraparound
office contracts with eight local nonprofit agencies
to hire, train, and supervise care coordinators,
who serve as the cornerstone of the
wraparound process. Though they are not
trained therapists or social workers, these
coordinators are college graduates who
receive extensive pre-service and in-service
American Youth Policy Forum 36
training in the wraparound model. Working
with a caseload of up to eight youth, the
coordinators: a) conduct in-depth assessments
of each youth and family to identify strengths
and needs; b) assemble a “ child and family team”
(see below) including family members,
counselors, and other adults committed to helping
the young person succeed; c) facilitate
development of a plan of care by the child and
family team; d) identify providers to offer needed
services; and e) monitor the delivery of services
and the overall progress of the young person.
 Child and Family Teams – The actual plan for
each young person’ s wraparound care is
developed by a “ Child and Family Team” – a
collection of all the adults involved in supporting
the family to care for the young person. These
include family members, natural supporters (i.e.,
relatives, church members, and friends), and
professionals such as probation officers, child
welfare workers, and mental health professionals.
Convened by the care coordinator on at least a
monthly basis, the teams are responsible to create
and periodically revise the plan of care for each
young person.
 Service Provider Network – To help care
coordinators find qualified providers to meet the
identified needs of troubled youth, Wraparound
Milwaukee has enrolled more than 170
community agencies to provide any of 60 services
– everything from tutoring and after school
programming to substance abuse treatment to
transportation. To hold down costs, Wraparound
Milwaukee has set a standard rate for each
service, using its bargaining power as a large
consumer of services to press providers to accept
below-market rates.
 Mobile Crisis Team – In addition to their care
coordinator and child and family team, each youth
and family enrolled in Wraparound Milwaukee
also has access to a Mobile Urgent Treatment
Team – a 24-hour-per-day service continuously
on call to intervene in family crises that might
otherwise result in rapid placement into out-ofhome
care. Through this mobile team, and
through the crisis safety plans created for every
young person in the program, Wraparound
Milwaukee brings urgent situations under control
without removing participants from their homes
and unraveling progress made to date.
BLENDED FUNDING AND “CAPITATED
RATE” FINANCING
Before Milwaukee launched the wraparound program,
the county paid for more than 360 young people per
night to sleep in residential treatment facilities, and it
maintained a waiting list of youth approved for
residential treatment and awaiting placement.
Placements into residential treatment were made by
a variety of county agencies – child welfare, juvenile
justice, and mental health – and each agency paid the
bills for any young person it referred. The average
length of stay in residential treatment was 14 months,
at a daily cost of $135 per day per youth. That
resulted in an overall cost of $18 million per year – or
$60,000 for each young person.
Wraparound Milwaukee replaced this funding hodgepodge
with a unified system. It collected the funds
previously spent for out-of-home care by the county’ s
child welfare ($8 million/year), juvenile justice ($8
million/year), and mental health ($1.5 million/year)
agencies, and used these funds to support a continuum
of services including both wraparound and residential
care. Wraparound Milwaukee also captures additional
funds ($10 million per year) in Medicaid
reimbursements for eligible youth, creating a total
budget of $28 million in 1999.
To ensure that the project minimizes unnecessary outof-
home care, Wraparound Milwaukee is paid on a
“ capitated rate” basis similar to that used by health
maintenance organizations. Wraparound Milwaukee
receives $3,300 per month per child for every juvenile
justice and child welfare case referred to the program,
plus $1,542 per month for each young person on
Medicaid. Wraparound Milwaukee pools all of these
funds and pays for all services needed by each youth
participant, regardless of cost. Nonetheless, the fixedrate
funding formula ensures that the program
maintains its focus on cost-effectiveness and avoids
unnecessary out-of-home placements.
Less Cost, More Safety 37
MINIMIZING OUT-OF-HOME
PLACEMENT
The use of wraparound services and the capitated
rate financing system have both helped limit the
number of young people placed into expensive
residential treatment. In addition, the county also
took two additional steps to limit the use of
residential placements:
 Limiting commitment periods. Prior to
wraparound, most youth placed into residential
treatment (either by child welfare agencies or
probation) were sent on court orders with a
one-year duration. Only through a new court
order could youth be released from the facility
before the year was up. Today, most youth
ordered into residential treatment are placed in
the custody of Wraparound Milwaukee, and
the initial term of treatment is usually just 90
days. The case are reviewed regularly and
each young person is discharged (to begin
home-based wraparound care) at the earliest
possible date. Through this system,
Wraparound Milwaukee has reduced the
average length of stay in residential treatment
from 14 months to just 3.5 months.
 County-wide crisis intervention. Whereas
most services provided by Wraparound
Milwaukee are limited only to youth formally
enrolled as wraparound participants, the project
makes one service available to any young
person in the county anytime: the Mobile
Urgent Treatment Team. Historically, many
young people have been placed into long-term
residential treatment programs after a crisis
erupts – a suicide attempt, perhaps, or an assault
on a family member. The mobile team helps
youth and families weather such crises without
triggering a long-term residential placement.
The mobile team reviews all requests for
inpatient psychiatric admissions for adolescents
countywide, and it offers services to help
defuse crises: group homes providing shortterm
(up to 14 days) housing, plus treatment
teams made up of psychologists and social
workers who offer up to 30 days of emergency
case management and family preservation
assistance.
WRAPAROUND SUCCESS
When it was first establishing its wraparound
program in the mid-90s, Milwaukee County
conducted a pilot project targeting 25 young people
who were then in residential treatment programs
and had no date for release. Using Wraparound,
the county enabled 17 of the 25 to return home
within 90 days – thereby reducing the average
three-month cost from over $5,000 per young
person to $2,700. Eventually, 24 of the young
people left residential treatment facilities and
returned to the community: 17 were reunited with
their families, and seven entered foster homes.
By 2000, Wraparound Milwaukee was proving that
such success was possible on a broad scale.
Countywide, the program has reduced the daily
population in residential treatment programs
from 360 (plus wait list) down to 135 per day.
In addition, psychiatric hospitalization of
adolescents has declined by 80 percent since
Wraparound Milwaukee went into effect.
Year Prior to Enrollment
Year of Enrollment
Year After Treatment
WRAPAROUND MILWAUKEE:
IMPACT ON OFFENDING RATES OF
DELINQUENT YOUTH PARTICIPANTS*
Average Number of Arrests
* Data through October 31, 2000
Source: Milwaukee County Mental Health Division
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5 2.32
0.98
0.63
American Youth Policy Forum 38
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Milwaukee County Mental Health Division, Child
& Adolescent Services Branch
Providing Effective Treatment and Reducing Out-of-
Home Care for Emotionally Disturbed and
Delinquent Youth
Emotionally disturbed adolescents (including many
delinquents) at risk for immediate placement into a
residential treatment program
Comprehensive home-based services; strength-based
treatment; partnership with families and other caring
adults; crisis intervention to prevent residential
placements; capitated-rate funding to discourage
unnecessary or lengthy out-of-home placements.
Pooled funding from child-serving agencies
(probation, child welfare, mental health), Medicaid,
as well as federal grant funding (expired in 1999).
Dramatic reductions in out-of-home placements for
youth county-wide; sharp reductions in offending by
delinquent participants; substantial gains in
behavioral functioning
Bruce Kamradt, Director
Children’ s Mental Health Branch
Milwaukee County Division of Mental Health
9501 Watertown Plank Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
Phone: (414) 257-7611; Fax: (414) 257-7575
Program Type County-run System of Care for Emotionally
Disturbed Youth
Even more impressive have been the substantial
behavior improvements and reductions in
delinquency displayed by Wraparound participants.
Among 169 delinquent youth for whom one year
follow-up data were available in October 2000, the
average number of arrests per participant declined
from 2.32 arrests during the year prior to enrollment
in Wraparound Milwaukee, to .98 arrests per
participant during the year of enrollment, to .63
arrests per participant in the year following
treatment. (See Table #5.) Whereas 57 percent
of participants committed two or more offenses
during the year prior to enrollment, only 15 percent
committed two or more offenses in the year
following treatment – a reduction of 74 percent.
Likewise, Wraparound Milwaukee participants have
also significantly improved their clinical outcomes:
measures such as the Child Behavior Check List and
the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale
show significant improvement in emotional functioning
and stability.
“ The hospital and the residential treatment center have
a place in the care of emotionally disturbed youth,
but they should be a stabilizing place, not a place for
change,” explains Dr. Chris Morano, who heads
Wraparound Milwaukee’ s Mobile Urgent Treatment
Teams. “ You can’ t use the hospital to try and reform
or restructure their personalities. That needs to happen
in a more normalized environment that’ s a true
reflection of their day to day life.”
Less Cost, More Safety 39
CHALLENGE #6:


     


 

  

“ The majority of delinquents, even those who have committed serious crimes, will be released back into
their communities [while they are still] in their teens and twenties.... Without an education, without health
care, without practical skills, without transition steps back into their communities, without programs that
have turned their antisocial activity into meaningful life lessons, what chance do they have of becoming
productive, law abiding citizens? What chance does our society have of being safe?” 38
Coalition for Juvenile Justice
Every day in America, about 105,000 young
people are held in custody. They include
27,600 awaiting trial or pending placement, and
76,500 who have been found delinquent and
committed to correctional facilities. Most of the
youth offenders committed to a residential
placement are housed in state-funded “ training
schools” – large, congregate care facilities that often
mirror adult prisons both in physical environment
and correctional philosophy.
Nationwide, only one-fourth of young people confined
in training schools have been convicted of (or
“ adjudicated” for) violent felonies, and many have
committed only status offenses, drug possession,
disorderly conduct, or other less serious crimes. Thus,
many or most could be safely and more effectively
sanctioned in community-based correctional programs.
Indeed, the success of Missouri’ s Division of Youth
Services (see Challenge #1) proves that many youth
now committed to state care could be safely supervised
in the community – and that community-based
correctional programs can produce recidivism rates
far below those typically achieved by training schools.
However, in Missouri and every other state, there
remain youthful offenders who have committed crimes
so heinous or suffer behavioral problems so severe
and potentially dangerous that secure (i.e., locked)
residential placement is the only safe option. Simply
locking up these youth does not guarantee public
safety, however. Because most youth will return to
the community within 12-18 months (and almost all
will return by their early twenties), the quality of the
corrections program is critically important.
Unfortunately, the quality of juvenile corrections
facilities nationwide is highly uneven. Several
problems are commonplace:
 Substandard conditions of confinement. In
1993, the U.S. Justice Department released a
comprehensive study finding that 62 percent of
confined youth were held in overcrowded
facilities, which suffer higher rates of violence
against both staff and other youth than noncrowded
facilities.39 Also, physical abuse by
juvenile corrections staff has been documented
in several states. Overall, 37 successful lawsuits
have been filed on behalf of juvenile offenders
in 25 states in the past three decades regarding
both overcrowding and abuse issues, and the
problems show no sign of abating.40
 Inadequate programming. Though required
to provide educational services to all youth 16
and younger, many training schools offer
educational activities for only a few hours per
day. These educational activities often lack
academic rigor, and they seldom include quality
special education services for youth with
learning disabilities (as required by law).
Inadequate mental health screening and
treatment are also pervasive in juvenile
American Youth Policy Forum 40
THE LAST CHANCE RANCH
TURNING AROUND FLORIDA’S TOUGHEST JUVENILE OFFENDERS
corrections facilities, despite the high rates of
mental, emotional and substance abuse problems
plaguing juvenile inmate populations.
 Undertrained staff. Day-to-day supervision of
juvenile offenders in most training schools is
provided by low-paid workers without college
education or in-depth training in youth
development. Thus, even if quality education
and counseling services are provided for a few
hours each day, confined youth spend the bulk
of their waking hours overseen by staff without
the skills or motivation to maintain a positive,
therapeutic environment.
 Inadequate aftercare. Perhaps the most selfdefeating
weakness in juvenile justice today is
the lack of support and supervision for youth
returning home from juvenile correctional
institutions. By definition, these are the most
dangerous and high-risk of all youth. Yet in
most states and communities these young
people are provided only modest supervision
as they re-enter the community and few services
to help them achieve success and remain crimefree.
“ Research shows that subjecting youth to such
harsh confinement conditions increases rates of
violence and recidivism,” concluded the American
Bar Association in 1998. “ In a society that already
faces daily violence and crime, deficiencies in the
care of incarcerated youth serve only to further
threaten the well-being of our children, families,
and communities.” 41
For more than twenty years, Florida’ s juvenile
courts have been sending some of their most
difficult and dangerous cases to a unique program
in the Everglades, the Florida Environmental
Institute. So too have Florida’ s criminal court
judges, giving hard case adolescents a final
opportunity in the juvenile justice system before
sentencing them to adult prison.
Here’ s why: unlike virtually every other juvenile
corrections facility in the nation, Florida
Environmental Institute has a long track record of
effectively rehabilitating serious and violent juvenile
offenders. “ This is a demonstration project that
shows that when you look at sending these kinds
of kids to prison, it doesn’ t make sense,” says Frank
Orlando, for 21 years a judge in Broward County,
Florida and now Director of the Center for the
Study of Youth Policy at Nova Southeastern
University in Ft. Lauderdale. “ We’ re talking about
kids, most of whom have a much more serious
background than the majority of kids being
transferred to adult courts today. But the recidivism
rates are very low. Public safety is enhanced.” 42
UP FROM THE SEA: THE EVOLUTION
OF A JUVENILE JUSTICE MODEL
The roots of the Florida Environmental Institute
date back to 1969, when Florida Atlantic University
in Boca Raton launched a new oceanographic
research institute. That same year, the Institute’ s
director accepted several troubled boys to work
on the Institute’ s research projects. Quickly,
institute leaders saw that the marine research
activities had a powerfully positive effect on
participating youth. Over time, they devoted more
and more of the Institute’ s efforts to redirecting
the lives of troubled youth, rather than research.
The initial program for juvenile offenders in Boca
Raton was replicated in Tampa and St. Petersburg
in 1972, then in three more sites by 1974. Each
program was (and still is) run by an autonomous,
non-profit corporation with a local board of
directors. However, an umbrella organization,
Associated Marine Institutes (AMI), was created
in 1974 to provide the local programs with
management and administrative support.
Less Cost, More Safety 41
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AMI President, Robert Weaver.
Today, the AMI network includes 51 institutes in
seven states and the Cayman Islands. Thirty of these
are non-residential day programs, like the initial marine
project in Boca Raton. The remaining 21 are
residential juvenile corrections centers, including seven
in Florida. Among them, the oldest and most
successful is Florida Environmental Institute.
A RANCH FOR FLORIDA’S
TOUGHEST JUVENILES
Located at Fish Eating Creek in the township of
Venus, 40 miles northwest of Lake Okeechobee,
the Florida Environmental Institute (FEI) is
surrounded by miles of open, humid, alligator-and
mosquito-infested swamp and forest. When
delinquent youths first started arriving in 1982, they
slept in tents. There was no choice: no buildings
yet stood on the 40-acre site. Since then,
participants and staff have erected several structures
– including two dormitories, general education and
vocational classrooms, a tool shed, a barn, and a
dining hall. They have also turned the property
into a working ranch, raising cattle and pigs, tending
horses, and growing corn, peas, cucumbers, and
other crops.
FEI earned its “ Last Chance Ranch” nickname in
the 1980s, soon after opening. The label was
coined by the participants themselves, all of whom
were sent to FEI on serious felony charges. Though
all were 17 or younger when committing their
offenses, many of the youth had been transferred
to adult criminal courts. Local judges sent them
to the FEI juvenile program as a final opportunity
– a last chance – before a sentence to adult
prison. A study in the 1980s reported that FEI
youths had been charged with an average of 18
delinquent offenses each, including 11.5 felonies.
In 1997-98, the average youth released from FEI
had accumulated a remarkable 32.7 charges,
including 11.8 felony charges, the highest felony
rate among the 35 Florida programs serving
serious juvenile offenders and the second highest
rate of total offenses.43
A UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE
Despite the serious profile of juvenile offenders
sent to FEI, the facility has never used iron bars,
handcuffs, or locked cells. The nearest state
road is 15 miles away – and the nearest town is
another 20 miles beyond that. Thus, despite the
lack of correctional hardware, escape is virtually
impossible. (FEI’ s most recent escape attempt
came in 1998, unlike Florida’ s “ secure” juvenile
corrections facilities which suffer several escapes
every year.) The lack of bars and physical
restraints has long been a core element of the
Associated Marine Institute philosophy – and it
provided the rationale for AMI’ s decision to
locate the facility in the remote Everglades.
According to Frank Orlando, who helped found
the initial program in Boca Raton and still sits
on AMI’ s board of trustees, “ If the program was
in the community, it would have to be hardware
secure. This way, the kids don’ t get the feeling
that they are being caged like animals.”
“ We have no lock-up room at FEI and we don’ t
teach our staff to ‘ take kids down’ by wrestling
them to the ground and pinning them,” explains
AMI President Robert Weaver. “ We are
convinced that the more unusual you treat a kid,
the more unusual he will act.” 44
Orlando also points to FEI’ s unusually small
population as a key to its success. The ranch has
capacity only for 22 participants at a time,
compared with the 100-400 youth capacity of
Florida’ s prison-like “ youth development centers.”
According to Orlando, “ The small population at
Last Chance Ranch gives the program the
opportunity to carry out its mission, which is to
address the kids’ problems and change their
behavior.”
American Youth Policy Forum 42
    

  
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 |'
REWARDS, PUNISHMENTS,
AND HARD WORK
When a young man is referred to the Ranch, his
ride to the program ends on the side of the road
two miles from the main facility. He is met there
by the program’ s director and another counselor.
Freed from handcuffs, leg irons, and any other
restraints, he then hikes through the swamp and
palmetto forest as staff begin explaining to him the
programs rules, philosophy and expectations. The
hike ends at “ O Camp,” just outside the main FEI
campus, where the offender will talk with staff and
senior participants and begin the physical work
(grass cutting, weeding, etc.) that will be a steady
part of his days at FEI. At O Camp, new
participants must agree to abide by the many rules
that govern life at the Ranch, and they begin to
bond with staff and peers. If all goes well in O
Camp, the new participant will join the rest of the
FEI population for the evening meal on the third
day. If the participants resists or acts out, the
process may extend one or two additional days.
Phase One. Upon entering the main FEI campus,
participants begin the first of the three stages in the
FEI rehabilitation process. In Phase One, which
lasts six months or longer, youth sleep in an austere
dorm with a hard floor, bunk beds, plywood walls,
screened windows without glass, and no television
or other amenities. Despite the steamy climate, the
Phase One dorm has no air conditioning, although
ceiling fans are provided to circulate the hot air.
The participants’ days are consumed with two kinds
of work: 1) individualized academic education,
where they make progress toward a high school
diploma or GED; and 2) physical labor tending farm
animals, caring for crops, digging up tree stumps
to clear land, cleaning and maintaining ranch
facilities, making repairs and improvements to the
ranch buildings (and sometimes building new ones),
and more.
However, youths’ primary task at FEI is to earn
credit toward going home. FEI, like all of the
Associated Marine Institute programs, is operated
on a strict behavior management regimen.
Participants are ranked five times per day on seven
areas of behavior: being on time, appearance,
attitude, leadership, participation, enthusiasm, and
manners. In the short-term, these rankings
determine the order in which participants are seated
in the cafeteria, and who is first to receive a second
portion. The primary importance of the weekly
rankings, however, is long-term: FEI youth are
released from the program only after they have
earned enough “ point cards” to progress through
all of the required levels. Each participant earns
between half and one-and-a-half point cards per
week, and each must earn 12 cards to complete
each of FEI’ s six levels. While fighting, rule
breaking and disobeying instructions do not land
young people in physical restraints or solitary
confinement, as in a typical youth corrections
facility, they do set back the youth’ s progress toward
going home, and often lead to an extra helping of
tough physical chores.
“ Their behavior and their attitude determines their
whole length of stay,” says FEI director, Mike
Shumans. “ If they’ re not doing well and they don’ t
earn the point cards they need to progress, then
they can be here a long time. If they follow the
rules and do well, they can get out in a year. It’ s
basically up to them.”
Phase Two. In Phase One, participants must
progress from the “ Tenderfoot” level to the “ Ranch
Hand” level and finally to the “ Buckaroo” level.
Once they complete this third level, youth shift
into Phase Two, which begins with a move into a
more comfortable, air-conditioned dormitory with
a television, more comfortable furnishings, and bit
of private space. Participants continue their
academic and ranch work during this phase, and
they also take part in occasional community service
and environmental projects. Toward the end of
Phase Two, which also lasts six months or longer,
Less Cost, More Safety 43
The New Ferris School
Juvenile Corrections Reform in Delaware
Back in the early 1990s, Delaware’s Ferris training school was a terrible place. Designed to house 47
youthful offenders, the facility typically held 80 or 90 – even 100. “The conditions were atrocious,” said
Judith Mellen, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union for Delaware. “The physical plant
was not only in very poor repair, it was almost impossible to keep clean. Food was not adequate. Clothing
was not adequate. Education was not adequate.”45
The ACLU filed suit in 1990 to protest conditions at Ferris, but nobody in state government listened until
Governor Thomas Carper was elected and settled the suit in 1993. Under a consent decree, Delaware
razed the old Ferris School and spent $14 million to build a new 69,000 square-foot facility. Moreover, it
adopted a new correctional philosophy. Today, all youth in Ferris School receive drug and alcohol
education, anger management, conflict resolution, sex education and HIV prevention. As part of that new
approach, all direct care workers at Ferris must now have a bachelor’s degree in education or a behavioral
science.
Perhaps the most impressive advance at the “New Ferris” has been the education program. Thanks to a
unique partnership with the DuPont Company, almost every youth in the facility now has a mentor.
DuPont provides financial support for the program and 78 volunteers – DuPont executives, chemists,
engineers, and researchers — who meet weekly with youth and help them with their academic work.
Since the new Ferris School opened in 1997 and the mentoring program began, students have averaged
a remarkable increase of 2.5 grade levels during their six-nine month stays at Ferris.
“It may not be common practice for the American Civil Liberty Union to publicly laud state officials who
have faced them in court and over the negotiating table,” wrote Delaware ACLU Director, Judith Mellen in
February 2000, “but Ferris’ transformation is an uncommonly successful result of the initiative of state
officials and the ACLU. The Delaware experience should serve as a model, not only for Ferris, but also
for the cooperative process that went into achieving this result.”46
CONTACT:
Dianne Gadow, Superintendent
The Ferris School
Delaware Youth & Family Center
956 Centre Road
Wilmington, DE 19805
(302) 993-3811
students earn the right to go back to their home
towns with an FEI staff member and begin finding
work, rebuilding family relationships, and making
living arrangements (if there is no safe and healthy
family home).
PHASE THREE – MAKING
AFTERCARE A CENTERPIECE
Unlike many juvenile corrections programs, where
the treatment largely stops when youth leave the
facility, the FEI program has always included a
heavy focus on the transition home. During the
month prior to leaving the ranch, youth work closely
with their counselors to develop plans for their
return. Once home, youth receive five visits per
week from an FEI community coordinator, plus
frequent calls from the case manager on staff at
the FEI campus.
Community coordinators monitor the progress of
the young people – and can even return youth to
the ranch if their behavior lapses. As at the ranch,
however, the emphasis is more on supporting youth
American Youth Policy Forum 44
Actual Success Rate**
Expected Success Rate***
FLORIDA ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTE VS. OTHER "LEVEL 8"
JUVENILE CORRECTIONS FACILITIES IN FLORIDA:
* Data for juvenile offenders released from correctional facilities during
fiscal years 1996-97 and 1997-98.
** Success is defined as no offenses within one year of release.
*** Expected success rates are calculated by the Florida Department of
Juvenile Justice based on characteristics of juvenile offenders placed into
each facility.
Source: Program Accountability Measures for DJJ Commitment Programs:
A Two-Year Analysis, FY 1999-2000, Management Report # 2000-9
(Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Juvenile
Justice, March 2000), p. 12.
Actual vs. Expected Success*
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
FEI (28) Total "Level 8"
Facilities (2,313)
78.6
57.9
54.3 55.2
than threatening them. Coordinators get actively
involved in helping youth to gain admission to
schools or colleges or employment, assisting youths’
families to secure needed services or benefits,
and advocating for youth with schools or
employers. The intensive support continues for
six months before the youth finally graduates
from the FEI program.
UNPARALLELED RESULTS
Each year, the Florida Department of Juvenile
Justice evaluates each of the more-than-100
juvenile corrections programs operating
statewide. The Department calculates the
success rates and costs per successful completion
for each program, and it measures each
program’ s success against an “ expected success
rate” that is based upon the specific demographic
and offending profile of youths assigned to the
program.
For the four-year period from 1997 through
2000, only nine of 57 (15.8 percent) serious
juvenile offenders released from FEI were
found guilty of a new offense in their first 12
months after completing the program. This
compares to an average reconviction rate of
more than 40 percent for all Florida
institutions serving serious juvenile offenders.
In 2000, only one FEI graduate out of 21 – just
4.6 percent – was found by a court to have
committed a new offense.
The average cost for one youth to complete a
term at FEI, $75,000, runs well above the rates
($30,000 - $50,000) in Florida’ s four prison-like
juvenile corrections facilities for serious
offenders. However, despite this disparity –
which is due to FEI’ s high staff-to-participant
ratio and the longer than average periods of
confinement at FEI – the program also scores
well in terms of cost-effectiveness. For the twoyear
period from July 1996 through June 1998
(in which FEI experienced a 21.6 percent
reconviction rate), the program’ s average cost
per successful completion ($58,120) was higher
than two of Florida’ s four “ youth centers” and
lower than two others.
However, this figure does not include the costs
of continued crime committed by youth after
leaving these training schools. According to an
analysis published by the Florida Department of
Juvenile Justice in September 2000, each time a
juvenile offender reoffends following release
from a commitment program, it costs the state
$165,571 in criminal justice and victim costs.47
Each of the larger programs suffers reconviction
rates of 45-55 percent – more than twice the
FEI rate. Had Last Chance Ranch graduates
reoffended at the rates of the larger Florida
Less Cost, More Safety 45
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Associated Marine Institutes
Rehabilitation of Serious and Chronic Juvenile
Offenders
Serious and chronic juvenile offenders, including
many who have been transferred to adult courts
Remote location in the Florida Everglades; small
scale (22 youth); no locked cells or restraints; high
staff-to-offender ratio; intensive behavior
management; extensive aftercare support
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
20 year-record of extremely low recidivism; strong
cost-effectiveness despite high cost-per-participant
Robert Weaver, President
Associated Marine Institutes
5915 Benjamin Center Drive
Tampa, FL 33634
Phone: (813) 887-3300; Fax: (813) 889-8092
Program Type Privately-Run Residential Corrections Facility
programs, at least 20 additional offenses would
have been committed – at a sum cost of more
than $3 million to victims and taxpayers. Clearly,
FEI is not only more effective than traditional
incarceration programs; it is also more costeffective.
Less cost, more safety.
American Youth Policy Forum 46
CHALLENGE #7:


 
 
 

 
  




 
 

“ For too long, education has been regarded as just another service for incarcerated youth. For too long,
yesterday’ s pedagogy has failed to educate delinquent youth for today’ s world. It is time to change.” 48
Robert Gemignani, National Office for Social Responsibility
Overwhelmingly, young people who become
chronic delinquents and adult criminals suffer
from two crippling problems: 1) weak academic
achievement; and 2) poor preparation for the world
of work.
If we want to hasten the pace at which delinquent
youth mature into adulthood and terminate
delinquent behavior patterns (as most eventually
do), helping youth prepare for and enter the labor
market is critical. That means education. That
means job readiness. That means vocational skills.
And for troubled youth long used to failure, many
of whom suffer learning disabilities and behavioral
disorders, each of these goals requires hands-on
learning opportunities providing both a first taste
of success and a clear path toward employment.
Nationwide, detailed information about the scope
and quality of education and training programs for
delinquent youth is virtually non-existent. The latest
national survey of juvenile correctional education
programs was completed in 1996 (using data from
1992), and it included little more than an incomplete
checklist from 39 states. The report listed state
budgets for juvenile correctional education, the
agency responsible for administering correctional
education programs, and simple yes-no lists of
program types offered (elementary & secondary
education, GED prep, vocational education, etc.).
The report included few data regarding how many
youth participate in these programs, and no data at
all on participant outcomes.49
As one federally-funded study concluded, “ No
systematic and cumulative data exist to show what
programs [youthful offenders] receive, from what
kinds of staff, at what cost – let alone what
results.” 50
Even without national data, however, it is clear
that most juvenile justice systems remain
substantially unprepared to provide delinquent
youth with a quality education and prepare them
for the labor market. According to the National
Center on Education, Disability, and Juvenile
Justice: “ Education programs in many juvenile
correctional facilities are inadequate.... Juvenile
correctional institutions often have limited capacity
to support appropriate educational interventions for
the youth confined to their care and custody. Major
systemic impediments include overcrowding,
insufficient financial resources, ineffective
governance structures, isolation of correctional
schools from education reform practices and from
public schools, inadequate transition and aftercare
services, and lack of collaboration and coordination
with treatment and security components within the
juvenile facility.” 51
Particularly serious in juvenile corrections is the
lack of career preparation. The majority of youth
who are removed from home and placed in juvenile
corrections facilities never again return to school –
and most never complete high school. “ While
correctional educators must find better ways to
motivate students to return to school,” writes
Less Cost, More Safety 47
PREPARING DELINQUENT YOUTH FOR PRODUCTIVE CAREERS
THE GULF COAST TRAINING CENTER
C
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correctional education expert, Robert Gemignani,
“ they must also provide students with the
knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed in entrylevel
jobs.” 52
“ The relationship [between youth and correctional
staff] and a sense of safety are the absolute,
necessary fundamental things that have to be in
place” in juvenile corrections,” explains juvenile
justice consultant, Paul DeMuro. “ Once they are
in place, you can step back and look at what causes
the delinquency in the first place, and I think in
most cases that is lack of opportunity. So if that’ s
the cause, then skills enhancing is clearly an
important part of the solution.”
In New Waverly, Texas, a new neighborhood is
sprouting up – eight houses purchased since 1998 by
moderate income families at affordable prices, and
five more on the drawing board. With wall-to-wall
carpeting, modern kitchens and central heating, the
homes look conventional in every respect. But in
one way they are entirely unique: all were primarily
built by delinquent juvenile offenders.
The development and construction of these homes
has been spearheaded by the Gulf Coast Trades
Center, a juvenile corrections program located in the
Sam Houston National Forest outside of New Waverly,
an hour’ s ride north of Houston. By teaching youthful
offenders practical, hands-on vocational skills (in
construction and several other career tracks) and
providing opportunities to employ those skills in a
real world context, Gulf Coast Trades Center stands
virtually alone in our nation’ s juvenile justice
infrastructure – a residential program for serious juvenile
offenders that makes education and career preparation
the cornerstone of its treatment and rehabilitation
philosophy.
Not only for new homeowners, but also for the young
people served and Texas citizens concerned about
youth crime, the results of Gulf Coast’ s vocational
approach are noteworthy: low recidivism and high
rates of success for program graduates in finding wellpaying
employment in their chosen occupations.
UNION ROOTS
Gulf Coast Trades Center came to life in 1971 on the
grounds of an abandoned site of the federal Job Corps
program. The Gulf Coast Trades Union, in
partnership with city government in Houston, secured
funding from the federal Model Cities program to
continue using the site to train low-income youths.
The new program struggled until former union
organizer Mike Buzbee took over in 1974. Though
Buzbee and five staff members went without pay for
three months in these early days, Gulf Coast captured
contracts with the Texas Youth Commission and the
federal CETA job training program early in 1975 and
began training delinquent teens for trades and careers.
A quarter century later, Buzbee remains in charge at
Gulf Coast, and the agency retains its union-based
focus on trades and careers. Gulf Coast provides
academic and vocational training, work experience,
counseling and aftercare for 176 delinquent youth each
day. Sixty percent of these youth are referred from
the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) – either as a
step down from their initial stays in TYC training
schools, a consequence for violating parole, or as a
direct placement following adjudication. The
remaining 40 percent are referred to Gulf Coast
directly from county courts and probation agencies
throughout Texas.
American Youth Policy Forum 48
The main 46-acre Gulf Coast campus – which has no
perimeter fence and uses no locked cells or physical
restraints – houses 144 youth in six dormitories.
Another 32 participants – mostly older youth who
are unlikely to return to their family homes – reside
on an independent living campus.53 All participants
are between the ages of 16 and 18, and 80 percent
are male. One-fifth of participants are white, while
African American and Hispanic youths each comprise
about two-fifths of the Gulf Coast population.
VOCATIONAL CORRECTIONS
The Gulf Coast program offers a strong dose of
academic education. Participants spend two hours
every day in Gulf Coast’ s Learning Resource Center
where they work on basic skills, study for the GED,
or earn high school credits with the help of a 20-
station computer lab, as well as videos, workbooks,
and individual tutoring from the Center’ s academic
instructors. Students work at their own pace, using
individualized plans developed and updated by staff
based on extensive pre-testing and ongoing
assessments.
These academic activities (as well as the vocational
training described below) are overseen entirely by Gulf
Coast, which established an independent charter school
in 1998 after struggling to partner with local school
districts throughout the prior two decades. With the
charter school, Gulf Coast is now free to hire its own
instructors, set its own hours, and establish its own
curriculum – rather than trying to fit its program
into the regulations and routines of the public
schools.
FRESH START at the Living Classrooms Foundation:
An Old Trade Leads to New Success
Down on the waterfront in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, once home to a thriving shipbuilding
industry, 20 young men arrive each morning to learn that honored old trade. Five days per week for 40
weeks, they practice boatbuilding, carpentry and other hands-on skills. They also receive valuable job
readiness training, advance academically, and learn self-discipline with the help of an innovative daily
self-evaluation process. By the time they graduate from this “Fresh Start” program, most of the youth
– all juvenile offenders ages 16 to 21 – are ready to succeed in employment and/or education. Even
more importantly, unlike youth confined in Maryland’s more conventional juvenile corrections programs,
they are unlikely ever to be rearrested or reincarcerated.
“Fresh Start” was launched in 1989 by the Living Classrooms Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit
dedicated to youth development through hands-on learning. Funded primarily by the Maryland Department
of Juvenile Justice, the program serves 20 youth at a time in a curriculum with five eight-week modules.
All participants are referred by a probation officer or a juvenile court judge. More than half reside at the
Maryland Youth Residence Center, a locked facility, while the remainder reside either in state-funded
group homes(about one-fourth) or in their own family homes.
Because Fresh Start is voluntary and uses no locks or restraints, the program operates with a strict
behavioral code: youth who commit or threaten violence , and those found with or under the influence of
drugs, are automatically expelled. Also, youth are allowed three personal days during each eight-week
cycle. Absence counts as one personal day, and any lateness counts for half a day. If they exceed the
three-day limit, youth are removed from the program and must apply for re-admission. As a result,
Fresh Start has a daily attendance rate of more than 90 percent.
Although Fresh Start participants spend only 75 minutes per day in a classroom, most make substantial
academic progress thanks to the program’s extensive hands-on learning activities. Youth gain an
average of 1.85 grades in reading, 1.0 grades in writing, and .65 grades in math. Of those who enter
the program at an 8th grade level or higher, 77 percent earn their GEDs. Fresh Start youth also earn
Less Cost, More Safety 49
Nine Vocations. In addition to its academic activities,
every Gulf Coast participant also enrolls in one of
nine vocational programs:
 construction carpentry
 painting and decorating
 bricklaying/stone masonry
 culinary arts (cooking)
 horticulture-related occupations
 building trades (plumbing/electrical)
 automotive technology (and repair)
 mill and cabinetmaking
 office support systems (and office technology)
For each vocational track, Gulf Coast has a customized
workshop, a dedicated instructor, and a 915-hour
vocational curriculum. These curricula include a
mixture of classroom lectures and hands-on learning
activities. In the automotive shop, for instance,
participants perform maintenance on the 36 vehicles
owned by Gulf Coast. In the office support systems
shop, they learn to operate office software programs
and perform diagnostic tests and repairs on Gulf Coast’ s
office computers. In addition, all participants take part in
job readiness training to prepare them for the world-ofwork,
and most also take drivers education training.
Real-World Work Experience. In each vocational
track, participants must demonstrate mastery of several
dozen competencies in order to earn a vocational
certificate. During their stays at Gulf Coast (which
average six to nine months), 80 to 90 percent of Gulf
Coast youth earn this credential, at which point they
can participate in Gulf Coast’ s work experience
activities (and begin wearing green shirts, rather than
the blue trainee shirts they’ ve worn until then).
dollars during the program through work with student-run businesses to build and sell boats and patio
furniture. Youth typically earn $500 to $800 over the course of the program, although they can claim
these rewards only if they graduate the program.
According to John Dillow, who oversees Fresh Start as director of Living Classrooms’ Maritime Institute,
the key to Fresh Start’s success is the close personal attention participants receive both during and
after the program. At Living Classrooms, each group of four-five participants has its own instructor, and
each participant meets daily with the instructor to review his performance. Following graduation, Fresh
Start continues to monitor and counsel graduates, with help from a team of “retention specialists.”
Because of the close supervision and strict rules of the program, Fresh Start has a high attrition rate. Of
the 154 youth who have entered the program between July 1997 and June 2000 and completed at least
two weeks, 112 completed at least one 8-week module and 50 (32 percent) completed the entire 40-
week program cycle. However, the long-term success of these graduates underscores the value of
Fresh Start: 66 percent of graduates were either employed and/or enrolled in education in December
2000. Wages among the 52 percent of graduates who were employed averaged $7.67.54
Perhaps most impressively, only 19 percent of Fresh Start graduates had been rearrested since leaving
the program, and only 7 percent had been reincarcerated – this in a state where 76 percent of youth
released from state-funded juvenile corrections facilities are re-arrested within three years. Despite its
far higher success rates, the 40-week Fresh Start program costs the state less than half as much as a
40-week stay in a juvenile corrections facility. Less cost, more safety.
CONTACT:
John Dillow, Director
Maritime Institute
Living Classrooms Foundation
802 South Caroline Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: (410) 685-0295
American Youth Policy Forum 50
Work assignments include maintenance or office work
activities within the Gulf Coast campus itself, or parttime
jobs with local government agencies and nonprofit
corporations in the New Waverly area. Gulf Coast
staff transport the youth to and from these
assignments, and they monitor participants’
performance on the job through written agreements
with the employers, plus frequent phone calls and
site visits. The work activities are supported through
the federal Workforce Investment Act (successor to
the Job Training Partnership Act), and participants
are paid minimum wage for all hours worked. Some
money is deducted from many participants’ wages
for restitution, and the remaining wages are placed in
savings accounts to be used for expenses related to
finding employment. The balance is released when
youth begin working in unsubsidized jobs in their home
communities.
While work experience opportunities have long been
a cornerstone of Gulf Coast’ s rehabilitative strategy,
these opportunities have become even a more positive
tool over the past three years thanks to the agency’ s
new housing construction efforts. Gulf Coast
established its own housing development corporation
in 1998. Since then, with funding from the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development’ s
YouthBuild program (which provides funding for
education and training and for wages), as well as a
% Incarcerated
Expected Rate
GULF COAST TRADES CENTER:
RE-INCARCERATION VS. OTHER MEDIUM RESTRICTION JUVENILE FACILITIES IN TEXAS
Source: Data provided via fax by Dr. Chuck Jeffords, Texas Youth Commission, December 2000.
Re-Incarceration Within
One Year of Release
Felony Re-Incarceration
Within Three Years
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Gulf Coast Gulf Coast Other Medium
Restriction Facilities
Other Medium
Restriction Facilities
15.7
24.6
37.6 36.8
18.2
26.3
27.4 26.6
companion state “ YouthWorks” program (which
provides funding for materials and construction costs),
Gulf Coast has built eight new homes, with another
five scheduled to begin construction in January 2001.
At any one time, 35 youth can participate in Gulf
Coast’ s YouthBuild program, and these youth split
their time evenly between academics and on-the-job
construction training. They participate in most aspects
of the construction process – from laying foundation,
to framing, to sheet-rocking, to roofing. Only highly
technical areas, such as electrical wiring and plumbing,
are left primarily to experienced professionals. Once
finished, Gulf Coast sells the houses to low and
moderate-income families at bargain prices (as low as
$50,000 for a new three-bedroom home).
Aftercare (and Job Placement). After training
delinquent youth for careers and providing them onthe-
job work experience, Gulf Coast does not simply
send them home and wish them luck. Rather, the
agency provides extensive aftercare support –
including job search and job placement assistance.
Roughly half of the graduates take part in an intensive
90-day aftercare program, in which Gulf Coast staff
serve as advocates and mentors, visiting youth in their
homes at least three times per week. Another 40
percent of graduates take part in a more moderate
aftercare program, and 10 percent live too far away
Less Cost, More Safety 51
from Gulf Coast to receive aftercare support.
Regardless of where they live, all Gulf Coast graduates
receive job placement and job coaching assistance.
Behavior Management and Supervision. In
addition to its strong emphases on academics,
vocational training, work experience, and aftercare,
Gulf Coast utilizes many behavioral management and
counseling strategies typical in other juvenile
corrections facilities. Gulf Coast uses a level system
to rate each youth weekly on their behavior and
cooperation, and then it allots privileges – recreational
time, use of a game room, off-campus outings – for
youth ranked at level three or level four (the top level).
Youth can be dropped a level at any time for serious
misconduct, and it takes two weeks of good behavior
to restore a youth to his or her prior level. Gulf Coast
also supports a Youth Leadership program, in which
youth who volunteer can meet quarterly with the
agency’ s board and have a say in facility policies,
serve on an appeals board to hear other participants’
grievances, qualify for the YouthBuild program, and
go on occasional special outings.
Unfortunately, both staff and participants at Gulf Coast
report that the behavior management regimen has
suffered in recent years due to problems with the
direct care workers who supervise youth in their
dorms. In the past, many of these direct care workers
were criminology students at nearby Sam Houston
State College. However, as the economy has picked
up in recent years, fewer and fewer students have
applied for these jobs. As a result, Gulf Coast is
increasingly forced to hire local residents with limited
skills. Even after granting a wage increase in 2000,
Gulf Coast pays the direct care workers a maximum
of only $7 per hour during their first year on the job.
Thus, staff turnover is high, and some of those hired
lack the skills or motivation to rigorously enforce the
Gulf Coast behavior management philosophy.
MORE WORK, LESS RECIDIVISM
Despite these staffing challenges, performance data
from Gulf Coast reveal that its vocational approach
to juvenile corrections is working. According to the
Texas Youth Commission (TYC), only 15.7 percent
of youth who graduated from Gulf Coast from 1995
through 1999 were incarcerated within one year of
release – compared to 37.6 percent of Texas youth
released from other moderate security residential
facilities during this same period. TYC also performed
a statistical analysis (involving 20-30 variables) to
calculate the predicted incarceration rate based on
the specific profiles of youth in the Gulf Coast
program, and it found that 36 percent fewer Gulf
Coast graduates were incarcerated than its
sophisticated model predicted. Likewise, the oneyear
arrest rate for violent offenses among Gulf Coast
graduates was 29 percent lower than expected. Also,
a three-year recidivism analysis found that Gulf Coast
graduates’ overall incarceration rate was 32 percent
lower than expected and its incarceration rate for felony
offenses was 31 percent lower.55
In addition to staying out of trouble, Gulf Coast
graduates also excelled in terms of academic and
occupational achievement. Roughly 60 percent of
Gulf Coast graduates complete their GEDs, and 60
percent find employment in their chosen occupational
field at an average starting wage of $7.50 per hour.
American Youth Policy Forum 52
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
Gulf Coast Trades Center
Rehabilitation and Career Preparation for Juvenile
Offenders
Youthful offenders committed to state custody
Intensive vocational training in nine career tracks;
job readiness training and work experience; strong
aftercare supervision and support
Texas Youth Commission; county probation
agencies; US Department of Housing and Urban
Development; Workforce Investment Act
Low recidivism, high percentage of graduates
employed at living wages
Thomas M. “ Mike” Buzbee, Executive Director
Gulf Coast Trades Center
P.O. Box 515
New Waverly, TX 77358
Phone: (936) 344-6677; Fax: (936) 344-2386
Program Type Privately-Run Residential Corrections Facility
Less Cost, More Safety 53
CHALLENGE #8:

 
   



  

  
“ The inappropriate use of secure detention poses hazards for youth, jurisdictions, and society at large.
Research indicates that detention does not deter future offending, but it does increase the likelihood that
children will be placed out of their homes in the future, even when controlling for offense, prior history,
and other factors.” 56
Annie E. Casey Foundation
When an adolescent is arrested, one of the
most important decisions affecting his or her
future will be made almost immediately: detention.
The choice whether or not to hold a young offender
in a juvenile detention center – analogous to a local
jail in the adult justice system – is not just a question
of short-term liberty for the offender. Rather, this
decision can have serious consequences for
ultimate disposition of the young person’ s case.
According to Mark Soler of the Youth Law
Center, “ Youth who are detained, rather than let
go to their parents or released to some other
program, are much more likely to be incarcerated
at the end of the process.” 57
Unfortunately, evidence is abundant that pre-trial
detention is used excessively, inefficiently, and
inequitably in many jurisdictions nationwide,
perhaps most. Under the law, juvenile detention
centers are intended to house young people
pending trial only if they pose a danger to
themselves or others, or if they are a risk to flee
the jurisdiction rather than appear for scheduled
court hearings. However, 79 percent of all youth
held in juvenile detention nationwide in 1997
were not charged with violent felony crimes.
Many were accused only of a misdemeanor,
status offense, or property crime. Many more
were detained after failing to appear at an earlier
court hearing – often following a long delay from
arrest to hearing date and minimal (if any) followup
to remind the youth of the hearing or
encourage attendance.
Meanwhile, inefficient case processing lengthens
the duration of stay for many detained youth –
causing young people to spend far more time
than necessary away from their families and out
of school. Once youth are convicted of crimes
(“ adjudicated delinquent” in the parlance of
juvenile courts), many spend weeks or months
more in detention waiting idly for placement into
a corrections or treatment program.
These problems are a large part of the reason
why the population housed in juvenile detention
facilities nationwide has risen dramatically in the
past two decades – not only during the period of
rapidly increasing juvenile crime (from 1984 to
1993) but also since 1993 when juvenile crime
rates have declined sharply. In 1995, 62 percent
of youth held in detention were in overcrowded
facilities – placing them at heightened risk for
violence, and decreasing the quality of education,
health and other services provided.
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American Youth Policy Forum 54
Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan
Bringing Detention Reform to Seattle and King County, WA
Fortunately, a number of jurisdictions have shown
in recent years that over-use of detention can be
overcome. In 1987, youth advocates filed suit in
Broward County, Florida to protest overcrowding
in the local juvenile detention center, which was
overflowing with an average daily population of
160 young offenders. The county responded with
a multi-pronged detention reform initiative. It
introduced an objective screening device to
determine whether each offender was a danger to
himself or others, or a risk to flee, and it only
detained those who met one of those two criteria.
The county created new procedures to minimize
“ failures to appear” for court hearings, a major
problem in Broward (and many other juvenile
courts) and a cause for youth to be rounded up
and detained. And Broward launched alternativesto-
detention programs to provide intensive oversight
as well as mentoring and case-management for
higher-risk youth released pending trial. Through
these efforts, Broward County reduced its average
daily headcount by two-thirds over five years – to
only 56 young people per day – and the county
saved $5.2 million in operating costs, construction,
and overtime.58
Broward County’ s success in reforming juvenile
detention paved the way for the Annie E. Casey
Foundation’ s multi-city Juvenile Detention
Alternatives Initiative (see sidebar on p. 56) – which
demonstrated again that many young people now
languishing in detention beds can be safely
supervised in the community or more rapidly placed
into correctional programs. So too does the
Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan project
in King County (Seattle), Washington, which is
detailed in the following pages.
Meaningful detention reform can ease chronic
overcrowding and avert the need for new multi–
million dollar juvenile lock-ups. As the King County
story demonstrates, it can also be a fulcrum for a
more fundamental change in juvenile justice –
embracing what works and discarding unproductive
but still-common practices that waste money,
damage youth, and fail to protect citizens.
Like most urban centers in America, the Seattle area
has seen a sharp drop in serious juvenile crime since
the early 1990s. Yet, like a lot of places, the juvenile
detention center in King County – opened in 1991 –
brimmed to capacity in the late 1990s. Admissions to
detention rose 27 percent from 1993 to 1998, and the
average length of stay in detention rose 39 percent –
causing the average daily population to jump from
119 to 199. In January 1999, the detention population
topped 200, though the facility was designed to house
only 160 youth. The overcrowding forced King
County to draw up plans for another detention center:
construction for a 80-bed unit would cost $11 million,
and operational costs would add another $5.8 million
per year.
Such an investment would be worth every penny if
the safety of King County residents was at stake.
But was a new detention center the only option to
prevent the county from having dangerous young
criminals loose on the streets? A team of community
and local government leaders began examining this
question in 1997 as part of a larger review of county
juvenile justice programs for the new millennium.
Here’ s what they found: Without jeopardizing safety,
King County could dramatically reduce the detention
population, avert the need for a new detention center,
and reduce subsequent offending. The only catch
was, to achieve these goals the county would have to
change virtually everything about how its juvenile
justice system did business. In August 2000, the King
County Council voted to do just that – placing the
proposed new detention center on indefinite hold and
instead investing would-be construction and operations
funds into long-needed administrative reforms and
far-sighted prevention and treatment programs.
These reforms, which are now in varying stages of
implementation, have already reduced King County’ s
Less Cost, More Safety 55
detention population by 30 percent while offering
troubled youth an array of new and improved programs
with proven power to prevent or reverse delinquency.
FRAMING A MASTER PLAN
King County’ s Juvenile Justice Operational Master
Plan (Master Plan), commissioned by County
Executive Ron Sims in December 1997, was
developed over three years by a 22-person oversight
team with support from a 16-person working group,
expert consultants, and various project teams
involving more than 100 representatives from
county and city agencies, courts, community
agencies, and schools.
In the first phase, the study team interviewed several
dozen stakeholders in the Seattle area and held
juvenile justice policy workshops in May and June
1998. These efforts, along with research by project
staff and deliberations by the oversight committee,
formed the basis for an interim report in August
1998. This report concluded, in part, that
“ Additional detention capacity will be needed to
meet the current and future demand for the county
if community based alternative programs... and other
diversion programs are not expanded.” However,
the Phase One report stated, “ This analysis found
a high potential for the use of alternatives, which
are more effective in terms of cost and impact for
a high percentage of the youth entering the juvenile
justice system.” 59
In the second phase of the study process, the Master
Plan team developed a mountain of data regarding
the options for reform in the local juvenile justice
system. Not only did the study team identify 17
policy and program recommendations, but it also went
the next step of combining these recommendations
into three reform scenarios (ranging from limited
implementation to full implementation of the
recommendations). The team then developed a model
to project the impact of each scenario on the size of
the detention population and the county’ s juvenile
justice costs over time.
“ We are at a crossroads regarding the future of juvenile
justice in King County,” the Phase Two report found.
“ The choices are clear. We can continue to do what
we did throughout the 1990s and face the need to
construct and operate a major new juvenile detention
facility, or we may rethink how we do business and
find other ways to promote justice, protect the public,
and help youth in trouble make responsible choices.” 60
TARGETS FOR REFORM
The Master Plan identified many areas ripe for reform,
including several that contributed directly to
overcrowding in the county detention facility.
Objective Detention Screening. Historically, when
police arrested young people for charges and decided
not to release them with a warning, they would bring
offenders to detention and simply drop them off. Only
then would probation staff assess youth to determine
whether they posed a threat to public safety or a risk
to flee. If the young person did not pose a danger,
detention center staff tried to find an adult or guardian
to take custody – often unsuccessfully. Thus, many
low-risk youth found their way behind bars. When a
team of consultants and staff analyzed the problem,
they found that by providing police with specific
detention criteria, and then prohibiting officers from
bringing less serious offenders to detention, the county
could free up many detention beds.
Alternatives to Detention. As of October 1998, 46
percent of the youth locked inside King County’ s
detention center were charged with a misdemeanor
or status offense. Only 28 percent were charged
with a serious felony. However, only about twenty
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American Youth Policy Forum 56
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile
Detention Alternatives Initiative
After the dramatic success of its grants to support juvenile detention reform in Florida’s Broward County
(see p.54), the Annie E. Casey Foundation decided to take its show on the road. Beginning in December
1992, the foundation developed, launched, and supported a multi-million dollar, multi-site project to help
develop a model for detention reform that could be used throughout the nation.
Specifically, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) provided implementation grants of
$2.25 million each to Sacramento County, CA, Multnomah County (Portland), OR, and Cook County
(Chicago), IL over a period of three years.61 The aim of the grants was to help these localities achieve
four goals: (1) build a consensus on the purposes of juvenile detention (and thereby eliminate unnecessary
and inappropriate detention placements); (2) reduce the number of youth who fail to appear in court for
scheduled hearings or commit a new offense while pending adjudication; (3) improve cost-efficiency in
detention by developing responsible alternatives to secure confinement; and (4) improve conditions and
alleviate overcrowding in secure (i.e., locked) detention facilities.
The results from this JDAI initiative effort were rich – both for the localities involved, and for juvenile
justice practitioners nationwide thanks to the wealth of tangible information disseminated by Casey through
this initiative.
“Every measure we have suggests that in Chicago, Portland, and Sacramento, JDAI achieved significant
reductions in detention admissions and significant improvements in the conditions of confinement,” reports
Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and chief evaluator of JDAI.
“And there were no increases in either failure-to-appear rates or pretrial crime rates.”
In the three counties, staff from juvenile justice agencies and the courts made their most significant
progress in three areas:
 Reducing inappropriate admissions to detention. In each of the three jurisdictions, juvenile probation
agencies developed objective risk-assessment instruments to measure which youth offenders were
really dangerous or likely to skip their scheduled court hearings. These objective measures replaced
haphazard screening processes that previously allowed many youth to sit in detention as punishment
(which is unfair to youth who not yet been convicted) or because no guardian could be located.
youth each day participated in alternatives-to-detention
programs such as home detention, electronic
monitoring, or intensive supervision, and an
alternatives-to-detention intake worker was assigned
to only one of the county’ s four juvenile courtrooms.
In other jurisdictions, alternative programs report
success rates of 85-90 percent supervising youth
without arrests and getting them to scheduled court
hearings – and at a fraction of the cost of secure
detention. Expanding its alternative programs, analysts
found, would free up many beds.
Appearance Rates for Juvenile Court. Twentynine
percent of youth admitted to King County’ s
detention center in 1996 were arrested on bench
warrants because they failed to appear in court.
Though 78 percent of these youth were accused of
misdemeanors or minor property felonies, most were
admitted to detention – at an average cost of $144
per day. Despite these costs, the county did little to
encourage youth to appear – mailing a reminder letter,
in English only, and often to incorrect addresses.
Juvenile justice staff recommended a new plan to
begin phoning youth and their parents just prior to
hearing dates, a procedure that could cut the failure
to appear rate and free more beds.
Truants and Status Offenders. In 1995, the state
of Washington passed the “ Becca Bill,” named for
Rebecca Hedman, a 13-year-old runaway who was
Less Cost, More Safety 57
 Expedited case-processing and reduced lengths of stay in detention. Sacramento and Multnomah
Counties made dramatic strides in eliminating unnecessary and expensive delays in juvenile cases and
reducing the periods of confinement for youth initially placed into detention. In both of these jurisdictions,
probation staff began to meet with prosecution and defense attorneys as soon as possible after arrest
to resolve cases and/or find alternatives to locked detention for youth who posed few dangers.
 Detention alternatives for non-dangerous youth. In Cook County, the most impressive outcome of the
JDAI project was an array of new detention alternatives programs to supervise youth in the community
while they awaited court hearings. These alternatives – including evening reporting centers, home
confinement, community service work projects, and non-secure shelters – have succeeded with more
than 90 percent of the youth assigned. The alternatives have allowed the county to reduce the number
of youth placed into secure detention and lower the average daily population in its detention facility
(designed for 498 youth) from more than 750 per night early in 1996 to fewer than 550 in the summer
and fall of 1999.
In addition to these concrete accomplishments in the targeted cities, JDAI also produced valuable information
for juvenile justice practitioners in other jurisdictions. The Casey Foundation hosted a national juvenile
detention conference in December 1996, and it has since published a series of thirteen “Pathways to
Detention Reform” reports examining aspects of detention reform, plus an interim evaluation report. (A final
evaluation report is pending.) Thus, for the first time, juvenile justice practitioners have a wealth of information
at their disposal to understand and address detention reform – a critical but little-understood battleground in
the larger juvenile justice reform challenge.
CONTACT:
Bart Lubow, Senior Associate
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
701 St. Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 547-6600
murdered while walking the streets. The law granted
wide discretion to the courts to intervene with and
confine young people who have not committed crimes
– including runaways, truants, and other status
offenders. The results in King County were
dramatic: within two years the number of nonoffenders
admitted to detention increased by 1800
percent, from 34 in 1995 to 615 in 1997.
Consultants and staff found that many costeffective
options were available to avert detention
and reduce court costs for non-offenders. These
included non-court truancy boards to resolve
problems before court petitions are filed, truancy
sweeps by police to round up truant youth and
intervene before truancy becomes ingrained, and
mediation to resolve problems between
unmanageable youth and their guardians without
court involvement.
Lengths of Stay. From 1993 to 1998 the average
period of confinement for youth in the King County
detention rose from 7.6 days to 10.6 days,
accounting for 62.5 percent of the overall growth
in average daily population at the detention center.
These increasingly lengthy periods of detention could
be reversed, staff found, by adopting clear sentencing
guidelines to expedite transfers out of detention
following adjudication hearings and by speeding up
required assessments for youth bound for state juvenile
corrections facilities.
American Youth Policy Forum 58
Research-driven Intervention Programs. In 1997,
the Washington State Legislature passed a new
“ Community Juvenile Accountability Act” that set
aside $7.65 million for local juvenile courts to
implement research-proven intervention models that
reduce recidivism among high- and moderate-risk
youthful offenders. (See sidebar in Challenge #3.)
Using these funds, King County implemented
programs for Functional Family Therapy (serving 150-
200 youth in 2000), Multisystemic Therapy (serving
45 youth in 2000), and a less intensive ($400 per
participant) classroom-based social competency
training called Aggression Replacement Training
(serving 300 in 2000). Juvenile justice staff expect
these programs to substantially reduce recidivism
among participating youth – lowering both the crime
rate and the need for juvenile detention beds.
THE FRUITS OF REFORM
In April 2000, the juvenile justice staff compiled a
package of four options for King County Executive
Ron Sims and the King County Council. The first
option involved no change in policies, and the remaining
three ranged from moderate to aggressive
implementation of the reforms detailed above.
Whereas the status quo option would require 255
detention beds by 2005, necessitating construction of
a new detention center, the three reform plans would
result in space needs ranging from an estimated 175
beds for the least aggressive option to 137 beds for
the most aggressive plan. Weighing added costs for
detention alternatives and other new services against
the savings in reduced detention, these three options
would result in a net savings to King County of $3.9
to $5.4 million per year.62
Even before the final decision was made in August
2000, King County began to implement many of the
proposed reforms. Police officers now carry cards
detailing precise criteria for which youth can be taken
to detention center and which youth must be released
to parents or guardians. Volunteers now operate a
“ warrant reduction” phone bank to remind youth and
parents of upcoming hearing dates and encourage them
to attend. Model intervention programs are up and
running, and the county has funding proposals pending
to significantly expand these programs in the coming
years. As a result, the King County detention
population has begun to decline, falling from more
than 200 in January 1999 to fewer than 140 in August
2000.
Though the Master Plan’ s long-term prospects for
success are clouded somewhat by administrative
issues,63 many signs of progress are now evident in
King County’ s juvenile justice efforts. At a cost far
below what would have been required to build a new
detention facility, King County youth are participating
in new alternatives to detention and home-based
intervention programs that have solid records for
reducing future offending rates.
When it comes to detention, perhaps even more than
other areas in juvenile justice, the opportunities are
many for less spending, more safety.
Less Cost, More Safety 59
Operating Agency
Program Goals
Target Group
Key Strategies
Primary Funding
Source(s)
Evidence of
Effectiveness
Contact Information
King County Juvenile Justice Operational Master
Plan Oversight Committee
Reduce Overcrowding in Juvenile Detention;
Eliminate Need for Construction of New Detention
Facility; Develop Alternative Programs/Policies to
Lower Delinquency and Improve Outcomes for
Youthful Offenders
Delinquent offenders and children in need of
supervision
Prevent unnecessary placements into juvenile
detention; reduce failures-to-appear in court by
delinquent youth; implement alternatives to secure
detention; replicate model intervention programs to
reduce recidivism among delinquent offenders.
King County, State of Washington, US Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Sharp drop in daily detention population,
construction of new detention facility deferred
indefinitely, and model delinquency intervention
programs being replicated in King County
Michael Gedeon, Project Coordinator
Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan
1211 East Alder Street
Seattle, WA 98122
Phone: (206) 205-9532; Fax: (206) 205-9349
Program Type County-Sponsored Study Commission
American Youth Policy Forum 60
 |!
Less cost, more safety. Lower recidivism, more
youth success. These are the bottom line
results of the programs and initiatives highlighted
in this report.
Nor are these highlighted programs alone in
demonstrating that substantial progress is attainable
through juvenile justice reform. Other guiding light
programs and initiatives in other jurisdictions are
also proving that the eight
challenges identified in this
report can be effectively
met and overcome. In
addition, Less Help, More
Hype identified several
more weaknesses that now
cripple juvenile justice
efforts nationwide and
several more challenges for
juvenile justice reform:
reducing excessive
transfers of youthful
offenders to adult courts;
engaging community organizations and volunteers
to help supervise juvenile offenders; improving legal
representation for youthful offenders; and carefully
monitoring the success of juvenile justice programs
and institutions. Guiding light programs are also
tackling these challenges, proving again that far
greater success is attainable.
In its cover story for the week of November 13,
2000, Newsweek reflected on the paradoxical trend
in America – the land of the free – toward
incarcerating an ever-increasing proportion of our
nation’ s poor and minority youth. “ We believe in
making people pay for their crimes,” wrote reporter
Ellis Cose, “ in protecting the weak from the vicious.
We believe in justice. And we believe in simple
truths.
“ Our strivings to protect society may have
weakened it,” Cose continued, “ for they fuel the
notion that we can afford to throw human beings
away. And they discourage us from asking whether
it is morally or economically
justifiable to invest so much
in locking lost souls down
and so little in salvaging
them.
“ In fact,” the Newsweek
story concluded, “ a strategy
of human reclamation may
be the only thing that makes
sense in the long run, not
only for those fated to
spend time locked down,
but for the communities to
which they seem destined to return— communities
that now are doubly damned: to suffer when
wrongdoers are taken away and yet again when
they come back.” 64
Particularly when it comes to juvenile offenders, a
strategy of human reclamation is not a pie-in-thesky
fantasy. Rather, as the programs highlighted
in this report demonstrate, reforming juvenile justice
represents a common sense, dollars-and-cents
opportunity – a sound and sorely needed
investment in our safety and in our future.
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Less Cost, More Safety 61
 

1 Feld, Barry C., “ Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems’ Responses to Youth Violence,” in Tonry, M. &
Moore, M.H. (Eds.), Youth Violence: Crime and Justice, A Review of Research, Vol. 24 (Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp.236-237.
2 DeComo, R., Tunis, S., Krisberg, B., & Herrera, N., Juveniles Taken Into Custody Research Program:
FY1992 Annual Report (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1993),
cited in Jones, M.A., & Krisberg, B., Images and Reality: Juvenile Crime, Youth Violence, and Public
Policy (San Francisco, CA: National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1994), p.27.
3 Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice Recidivism Analyses: A Program By Program Review of
Recidivism Measures at Major Facilities for Department of Juvenile Justice Youths (Baltimore, MD:
Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice, 1997), p.8.
4 Cited by Feld, B.C., Bad Kids: Race and the Transformation of the Juvenile Court (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1999), p.280.
5 Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report (Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile
Justice, 1999), p.206.
6 Some of these states, including Arkansas, operate a mix of training schools and smaller juvenile corrections
facilities. Kentucky, the final state bordering Missouri, relies exclusively on small-scale juvenile correctional
facilities. However, Kentucky’ s juvenile corrections system has a troubled history. A consent decree
signed in 1995 cited the state’ s juvenile justice facilities for 140 violations ranging from harsh isolation
practices to routine abuse and neglect. Fortunately, the situation has improved since then. See Alexander,
Bill, “ Once Lame Juvenile Justice System Jockeys to the Lead,” Youth Today, vol.10, no.1, December/
January 2001.
7 Gorsuch, K.R., Steward, M.D., Van Fleet, R.K., & Schwartz, I.M., “ Missouri Department of Youth
Services: An Experience in Delinquency Reform,” in Missouri and Hawaii: Leaders in Youth Correction
Policy (Ann Arbor, MI: Center for the Study of Youth Policy, 1992), pp.10-11.
8 State juvenile corrections budgets were compiled from various sources, including phone interviews, state
documents, and survey data provided by the Council on Juvenile Correctional Administrators.
9 Phone interview with the author, January 2001.
10 Interview with the author, December 2000.
11 Cited in Juvenile Justice: Views From Both Sides of the Aisle (San Francisco, CA: National Council on
Crime and Delinquency, 1996).
12 Joy, E.L., Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House
of Representatives, March 20, 1997.
13 Data for this program (and for other programs cited below) provided by Lyn Willis, Tarrant County
Juvenile Services, January 2001.
American Youth Policy Forum 62
14 Cited in the “ Editor’ s Introduction” to Blueprints for Violence Prevention Book Six: Multisystemic
Therapy (Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, 1998), p.xi.
15 Lipton, Douglas, R. Martinson, and J. Wilks, The Effectiveness of Correctional Treatment: A Survey of
Treatment Evaluation Studies (New York: Praeger Press, 1975).
16 Henggeler, S.W., Melton, G.B., & Smith, L.A., “ Family Preservation Using Multisystemic Therapy: An
Effective Alternative to Incarcerating Serious Juvenile Offenders,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, vol. 60, 1992, pp. 953-961, cited in Blueprints for Violence Prevention Book Six: Multisystemic
Therapy (Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, 1998).
17 Borduin, C.M., Mann, B.J., Cone, L.T., Henggeler, S.W., Fucci, B.R., Blaske, D.M.. & Williams, R.A.,
“ Multisystemic Treatment of Serious Juvenile Offenders: Long-Term Prevention of Criminality and
Violence,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 63, no. 4, 1995, pp. 569-578.
18 Chamberlain, P., “ Comparative evaluation of Specialized Foster Care for Seriously Delinquent Youths: A
First Step,” Comparative Alternatives: International Journal of Family Care, vol.2, 1990, p.21-36, cited
in Blueprints for Violence Prevention Book Eight: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (Boulder,
CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, 1998).
19 Chamberlain, P., & Reid, J.B., Comparison of Two Community Alternatives to Incarceration for Juvenile
Offenders, manuscript submitted for publication, 1997, cited in Blueprints for Violence Prevention Book
Eight, ibid.
20 Aos, S., P. Phipps, R. Barnoski, & R. Leib, The Comparative Costs and Benefits of Programs to Reduce
Crime: A Review of National Research Findings With Implications for Washington State (Olympia, WA:
Washington State Institute for Public Policy, May 1999).
21 Phone interview with the author, December 2000.
22 Henggeler, Scott W., Treating Serious Anti-Social Behavior in Youth: The MST Approach (Washington,
DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1997), p.6.
23 Promising Approaches for Graduated Sanctions, (San Francisco: National Council on Crime and
Delinquency, n.d.)
24 Wolfgang, M.E., Figlio, R.M., & Sellin, T., Delinquency in a Birth Cohort (Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago, 1972).
25 Tracy, P., Wolfgang, M.E., & Figlio, R.M., Delinquency in Two Birth Cohorts, Washington, DC: Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1990), cited in Howell, J.C. (Ed.), Guide for Implementing
the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (Washington, DC:
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1995).
26 Guide for Implementing, ibid, p.2.
27 Ibid.
Less Cost, More Safety 63
28 Schumacher, M., & Kurz, G.A., The 8% Solution: Preventing Serious, Repeat Juvenile Crime (Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000), pp.4-5, 41-42.
29 Ibid, p.66.
30 Data provided by Ms. Shirley Hunt, Orange County Probation Department, December 2000.
31 Repeat Offender Prevention Project: Status Report to the Legislature (July 2000) (Sacramento, CA:
California Board of Corrections, 2000).
32 Schumacher, M., & Kurz, G.A., The 8% Solution: Preventing Serious, Repeat Juvenile Crime (Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000), p.41.
33 Bilchik, S., Mental Health Disorders and Substance Abuse Problems Among Juveniles (Washington, DC:
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, July 1998).
34 Cocozza, Joseph J., and Skowyra, Kathleen R., “ Youth With Mental Health Disorders: Issues and Emerging
Responses,” Juvenile Justice, vol.7, no.1, April 2000, p.6.
35 Satcher, D.A., Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for
Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999), p.185.
36 Ibid.
37 Cited in Satcher, ibid.
38 Ain’ t No Place Anybody Would Want to Be: Conditions of Confinement for Youth, 1999 Annual Report
(Washington, DC: Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 1999), pp.12-13.
39 Parent, D.G., Leiter, V., Kennedy, S., Livens, L., Wentworth, D., & Wilcox, S., Conditions of Confinement:
A Study to Evaluate Conditions in Juvenile Detention and Corrections Facilities - Executive Summary
(Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1993).
40 Juvenile Detention and Training School Crowding: A Clearinghouse of Court Cases (Richmond, KY:
National Juvenile Detention Association, 1998).
41 Puritz, P. & Scali, M., Beyond the Walls: Improving Conditions of Confinement for Youth in Custody
(Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice,
1998).
42 Phone interview with the author, December 2000.
43 Data reported in 2000 Outcome Evaluation Report (Tallahassee: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice,
Bureau of Data and Research, February 2000), Appendix 4, p.120.
44 Cited in Lerner, Steve, The Good News About Juvenile Justice: The Movement Away from Large Institutions
and Toward Community-based Services (Bolinas, CA: Commonweal Research Institute, 1990), p. 120.
American Youth Policy Forum 64
45 Cited in Fields, Gary, “ Reform School Gets High Marks,” Detroit News, December 22, 1999.
46 Judith Mellen, “ State spending for troubled youth is wise investment,” Letter to the Editor, The [Wilmington,
DE] News Journal, February 20, 2000.
47 The Fiscal Impact of Reducing Juvenile Crime (Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice,
Bureau of Data and Research, September 2000), p.9.
48 Gemignani, Robert J., Juvenile Correctional Education: A Time for Change, OJJDP Update on Research
(Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, October 1994).
49 Kirshstein, Rita, & Best, Clayton, Survey of State Correctional Education Systems: Analysis of Data
from 1992 Field Test (Washington, DC: Pelavin Research Institute, 1996).
50 Coffey, O.D., & Gemignani, R.G., Effective Practices in Juvenile Correctional Education: A Study of
Literature and Research 1980-1992 (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention, 1994), p.6, cited in Dedel, Kelly, Assessing the Education of Incarcerated Youth (San Francisco:
National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1997).
51 Juvenile Correctional Education Programs, Issue Summary by National Center on Education, Disability,
and Juvenile Justice, downloaded from EDJJ website [http://www.edjj.org/education.html], November
2000.
52 Gemignani, supra note 41.
53 These figures do not include another 48 beds reserved for a new 90-day “ conservation corps” program
established by Governor George W. Bush for youth who have violated parole.
54 The Fresh Start Program Report for 1997-2000 (Baltimore, MD: Living Classrooms Foundation, December
2000).
55 Data provided via fax by Chuck Jeffords, Texas Youth Commission, December 20, 2000.
56 Rust, Bill, “ Juvenile Jailhouse Rocked,” AdvoCasey (Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fall/
Winter 1999).
57 Cited in “ Juvenile Jailhouse Rocked,” ibid.
58 Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative: An Experiment in Reform, downloaded from the website of
the Annie E. Casey Foundation, www.aecf.org/initiatives/juvenile/exper.htm.
59 King County Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan, Phase One: Final Draft Report (Seattle, WA:
Chinn Planning, Inc., in association with CGA Consulting Services, Inc., August 3, 1998).
60 King County Phase II Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan (Seattle, WA: Christopher Murray and
Associates, March 2000).
61 A fourth site, New York City, dropped out of JDAI during the implementation phase.
Less Cost, More Safety 65
62 King County Phase II Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plan (Seattle, WA: Christopher Murray and
Associates, March 2000), p.9.
63 Operational control of the local probation agency was taken away from the local administrative agency
and shifted back to the courts in January 2000, due to longstanding management problems in the agency.
Likewise, the juvenile detention center was placed under the county’ s adult probation agency, which
operates the local jail for adult offenders.
64 Cose, Ellis, “ US: The Prison Paradox,” Newsweek, November 13, 2000.
American Youth Policy Forum 66






Richard Mendel is an independent writer and researcher on poverty-related issues in youth
development, neighborhood safety, employment and training, and community economic
development. In June 2000, he authored Less Hype, More Help: Reducing Juvenile Crime,
What Works - And What Doesn’t, a comprehensive review of delinquency prevention and
juvenile justice co-published by the American Youth Policy Forum, Child Welfare League of
America, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, National Collaboration for Youth, National Crime
Prevention Council, National League of Cities, and National Urban League.
Mr. Mendel worked for four years at the South Bronx Overall Economic Development
Corporation, ending in 1998 as Assistant Vice President for Program Development and
Evaluation. From 1986 to 1991 he was staff associate at MDC, Inc., a non-profit employment
policy research firm in Chapel Hill, NC. In addition, Mr. Mendel has completed projects for
the Enterprise Foundation, National League of Cities, Lilly Endowment, Annie E. Casey
Foundation, Jobs for the Future, and Surdna Foundation, among others. He has written for
The Atlantic, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Washington Monthly, and
others. Previously for the American Youth Policy Forum, Mr. Mendel wrote The American
School-to-Career Movement: A Background Paper for Policymakers and Foundation Officers
(1994), and Prevention or Pork: A Hard-Headed Look at Youth-Oriented Anti-Crime
Programs (1995). Mr. Mendel earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Duke
University (1983) and a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland (1992).
 


 




 



(See our complete catalog at www.aypf.org)
LESS HYPE, MORE HELP: Reducing Juvenile Crime, What Works – And What Doesn’t by
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PREVENTION OR PORK? A Hard-Headed Look at Youth-Oriented Anti-Crime Programs by
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A GUIDE FOR THE POWERLESS – AND THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW THEIR OWN POWER; A
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HIGH SCHOOLS OF THE MILLENNIUM. High schools need to be redesigned to meet the needs
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LOOKING FORWARD: School-to-Work Principles and Strategies for Sustainability. Organized
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Prepaid orders only please. Cost covers shipping and handling in contiguous U.S.
Send all orders to: American Youth Policy Forum, 1836 Jefferson Place, NW, Washington,
D.C. 20036-2505. (Federal ID 31-1576455). Call (202) 775-9731 for rates on quantity orders.
 








   
 

 
 
 

 


 






    


             


 

 

 

 




 


 
 






  
   


   

 

   






 


 



 

American Youth Policy Forum
1836 Jefferson Place, NW, Washington, DC 20036
www.aypf.org
ISBN 1-887031-71-5

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