Juveniles And Crime Prevention Programs Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

For our research proposal, we wanted to propose that the different deterrence programs may or may not have effective responses on juveniles. The different deterrence programs we researched were Scared Straight, Group Home Therapy, Aggression Replacement Therapy, Multi-Systemic Therapy, and Restorative Justice. Our deterrence programs that we researched showed that some worked well, and then there were some that produced little to no effect.

The research that we are proposing is does deterrence programs have an effect on juvenile offenders. Most believe that once one commits a crime that becomes their life. Juveniles tend to follow in their family footsteps, even more so when they are offenders. There are several different types of juvenile deterrence programs all over the world, and all have different ways of helping juveniles and their families. The different programs help with substance abuse, delinquency, attendance issues, anger management, anti-violence, anti-bullying, and behavioral therapy (Hubbard, 2012). The different deterrence programs we are studying are Aggression Replacement Therapy, Multi-Systemic Therapy, Group Home Deterrence Therapy, Scared Straight, and Restorative Justice.

The different deterrence programs for juveniles, helps to best understand how to help juvenile offenders. Our research will show if these programs are effective. By researching these deterrence programs for juveniles, we can discover if these programs have an effect on juvenile offenders. For instance, The Aggression Replacement Therapy Program tests the behaviors of juveniles. They then discover if the juvenile's behavior is actually changing, in ways like coping with stressful situations, group work, and attendance (Wheatly et al., 2009). In the article, What works in prevention: Principles of effective prevention programs, the authors try to propose different surveys for effective interventions that may help prevention practitioners select, modify, and create different programs (Maury, 2003). With people like this trying to create different programs for juvenile offenders, then this means less juveniles and reoffending juveniles in the Criminal Justice System. The Multi-Systemic Therapy is a family and community- based therapy program for juveniles. Most juveniles that come out of the program are less likely to go back to prison (Blaske et al., 1995).

As we research the different juvenile deterrence programs, we want to find out if they actually work, that way we are not just wasting money. The juveniles in the system today are dealing with peer pressure, parental influence, bullying, social media, and substance use and abuse. A question we might ask is if these programs should be administered before, instead of after the juveniles have offended multiple times. In that case, we may have less juvenile offenders in the Criminal Justice System.

Literature Review

Do deterrence programs have an effect on juvenile offenders? That is the question we want to propose. Each deterrence program for juveniles shares something in common, they all want to prevent juveniles from going to jail, or keep repeat offenders from going back to jail. According to Greenwood, "researchers have identified a dozen "proven" delinquency programs. Another twenty to thirty "promising" programs are still being tested (Greenwood, 2008). Another key point is, "cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit studies make it possible to compare the efficiency of programs that produce similar results, allowing policymakers to achieve the largest possible crime-prevention effect for a given level of funding" (Greenwood, 2008). Our main focus on deterrence programs are, Group Home Therapy, Aggression Replacement Therapy, Scared Straight, Restorative Justice, and Multi-Systematic Therapy; are these programs affective and what are the pros and cons.

One court mandated program is the Group Home Treatment for juveniles the findings on group homes were conclusive for all studies. Some group homes were better than others, and they all did not operate the same way either. Even though, they all had the same mission to stop juvenile recidivism. In one study they studied two group homes (Abrams, 2006). They studied their progress in three ways by observation, interviews, and record review. The randomly selected individuals were studied over a sixteen month period. These two homes varied in strictness. One group home had very hard punishment for those that broke the rules, while the other was very lenient. A major problem with both of these group homes were that kids were released before they were able to complete the program due to court mandated release. The researchers found that, "the courts determined their fates, often without warning, and only a select few completed the program levels successfully before they were removed." (Abrams, 2006) Also some of the kids wanted out so bad that they were willing to do anything or fake anything they had to do in order to be released earlier. Another big problem that the group home faced was that the juveniles didn't have post release plans. This made it very hard for them to be successful once they were released. In another study they studied the juveniles for a much longer period of time. This program had a 38 percent failure rate (Heghighi, 1993). The researchers found, "that the success/failure of the program depends highly on when the juveniles were referred" (Heghighi, 1993). This was not the case in many cases because the court system used group home as a last ditch effort to help the juvenile (Heghighi, 1993). Another determining factor if the juvenile was successful is if the juvenile is a boy or girl, because, "girls completed the group home program at a much higher rate of success than boys" (Haghighi, 1993).

A successful court mandated program is Aggression Replacement Training, and this programs primary focus is targeting aggression. This program also had a profound effect on social skills as well. Studies done on Aggression Replacement therapy did not have recidivism rates, but did show that it was a great success in reducing aggression. Another problem was that these studies did not show how many were in the Criminal Justice System before the treatment program. There was an extremely small study done on eight juveniles (Currie, Wood, Williams, & Bates, 2009). This study was a successful study because it "showed a downward trend from before to after treatments for all but one subject" (Currie, Wood, Williams, & Bates, 2009). This study also showed an increase in social skills in all but one subject, that had no change (Currie, Wood, Williams, & Bates, 2009). With a better set of social skills the juveniles will do better in general population and dealing with others. In another aggression training program they had an advantage of group treatment as well. They found that, "group treatment was highly beneficial" (Wheatley, Murrihy, kessel, Wuthrich, Remond, Tuqiri, Kidman, 2009, pp. 33). The researchers also found that individuals a group setting learned problem solving in a real life setting, and it helped them learn how to build relationships. The study showed that working with others and working together is more beneficial than individually. Aggression Replacement training is a preferred program among all deterrence programs (Greenwood, 2008). This program shows a decrease in crime by 7.3 percent (Greenwood, 2008). The Aggression Replacement Training Program only costs 897 dollars per youth (Greenwood, 2008). The Criminal Justice System saves a total of 6,659 dollars (Greenwood, 2008). The total benefit to cost ratio is 17.3 (Greenwood, 2008).

One of the more unsuccessful programs would be Scared Straight. This program was unsuccessful because it is costly and showed no effect on juveniles. Some studies have even shown that this program actually increased crime. This program has a really good idea in showing juveniles what will happen if they continue to do what they are doing, but it actually backfires. One study found that in, "500 crime prevention evaluations listed Scared Straight under what does not work" (Andrews). The program is very costly and never seemed to show any effect on juveniles. Some researchers have even gone so far as to say that Scared Straight violates juvenile justice laws. This can be catastrophic because, "any community staring a local Scared Straight program that brings kinds in custody to an adult prison, even for educational purposes, could risk losing funding for juveniles justice programs statewide" (Schill). If a state were to lose funding over a single program that does not even work would be catastrophic. The Scared Straight Program costs 1,913 dollars per youth (Greenwood, 2008). The total benefit to cost ratio is 22.0 (Greenwood, 2008). The Scared Straight Program has also made its way to Hollywood and tends to be more entertaining than actually to show the kids making any progress and it almost seems staged when they show the prisoners trying to intimidate the kids.

Restorative Justice Program is a deterrence program that juveniles participate in along with the community. It is a community-based deterrence and the average age for this program is 14. This program was also mainly for status offenders, and not really violent juveniles. A form of Restorative Justice could be community service and victim awareness classes and is often referred to as "reparative justice". These practices often take place in local communities, juvenile correction centers, and for probation. It tends to focus on the harm that has been done by these crimes and seek to repair the damage done by those crimes. So the program does not only help with the person who committed the crime but also the community in which the crime was committed. Restorative Justice is a program that is preferred among all deterrence program it also shows an decrease in crime by 8.7 percent (Greenwood 2008). Restorative Justice Program is one of the least expensive programs out of all deterrence programs, costing 880 dollars per youth (Greenwood, 2008). The Criminal Justice system saves 3,320 dollars while using this program (Greenwood, 2008). The total benefit to cost ratio is at 9.0 (Greenwood, 2008). People would are more willing to use programs that show good result and is the most cost effective.

Multisystemic Therapy is a family based program that is designed to help parents deal effectively with their youths behavior problems, including engaging with deviant peers and poor school performance" (Greenwood, 2008). The Multisystemic Therapy Program shows that it is an effective deterrence program. Multisystemic Therapy Program also addresses barriers to effective parenting and helps family members build indigenous social support network" (Greenwood, 2008). Multisystemic Therapy Program is generally used for juveniles that are currently on probation. Multisystemic Therapy tends to work with an individual family for a long period of time, and sometimes be more intense and expensive. This program is also very effective in reducing re-arrest rates and keeps juveniles out of foster care, that are involved in both juvenile and social service system.

Our main focus on deterrence programs are, Group Home Therapy, Aggression Replacement Therapy, Scared Straight, Restorative Justice, and Multi-Systematic Therapy; are these programs affective and what are the pros and cons. Each program provided different results meaning, some deterred crime and some actually increased or had no effect on crime. Some programs were more cost effective than others, that some programs were spending more money and produced little effects on juveniles. For example, while Group Home Therapy showed almost no effect on juveniles and recidivism, Aggression Replacement Theory however showed significant effects on juvenile's recidivism and social skills. There are several juvenile deterrence programs and some show different effects but all have the same goal in mind. Keep juveniles from committing crimes and keep repeat offenders from falling in the same hole that got them there in the first place.

Current Study



We researched many studies concerning deterrence programs concerning juvenile reoffending. The programs we researched had to include juveniles, reoffending juveniles, and some sort of relative positive or negative effect on them. We found many programs but picked the top ones we thought would prove to be the most useful and have the greatest effect on juveniles.

The data primarily found secondary sources. The some of the studies we used got their information from primary sources. We researched many sites through the schools collection, but found most of our sources through accredited journals using google scholar.

The participants in our studies were mainly juveniles that had a high potential of recidivism. They had to be of appropriate age, 12-17, and must have been enrolled in one of the studies being researched. Not only did the juveniles have to give approval to be in the study, but the guardians of the juveniles as well because they are considered minors in their appropriate states.

Our unit of analysis is individual programs. In each of the studies test, a number of juveniles participated. The number of juveniles in the studies range from 9 to 304 depending on the individual study (Haghighi, 1993; Petrosino, 2002). The average length of the studies took many months and some spanning years (Rodriguez 2007).

The studies researched were experimental and quasi-experimental. Most of the information we pulled from was from single experiments done to test individual reoffending programs.

The information found proved relative between the studies and showed many similar results. The programs we researched were among the best deterrence programs and showed positive results in determining whether they are relative or not. The data showing the programs that have the most positive effect on juveniles showed similar results, and the programs that showed little to no effect on juvenile delinquency showed similar results as well.

Dependent Variable

In this project we have researched juvenile delinquency and the effect that juvenile programs have on today's youth and reoffending. We have outlined several different programs that give accurate facts and statistics as to the effectiveness that these programs have on young adults.

Although many variables contribute to these findings we have found that the dependent variable is the rate of "Reoffending". So in other words the rate of youth's "reoffending" depends on the juvenile program that they are placed in.

By drawing our focus to the dependent variable we are able to give accurate statistics to the rate of reoffending based on percentages. In the studies they start by measuring the youth's crime based on severity and quantity. Then the juvenile is placed in a juvenile program, in which he or she will undergo work programs, education programs or even just "Scared Straight" programs.

Upon completion of the program, the juvenile will often be marked or followed as to measure the future effectiveness of the program. Then the part of our dependent variable comes in to play and the programs begin to measure recidivism, or "Reoffending". After all the research is done it is then submitted into a system of statistics, which are more often percentages.

So as you can see, the dependent variable plays a key role in research and determining the effectiveness of these programs, in which each program produced its own results.

Independent Variables

Juvenile Crime Prevention Programs

The independent variables are the deterrence programs (aggression management therapy, scared straight, restorative justice, multi-systematic therapy, and residential treatment). According to Peter Greenwood, who wrote Prevention and Intervention Programs for Juvenile Offender, in an article called "The Future of Children" stated "preventing delinquency not only saves young lives from being wasted, but also prevents the onset of adult criminal careers and thus reduces the burden of crime on its victims and on society" (Greenwood 2008).

"Systematic reviews (meta-analyses) of the studies, while varying widely in coverage and technique, but display remarkable consistency in their overall findings", according to Lipsey & Cullen. In their review, The Effectiveness of Correctional Rehabilitation: a Review of Systematic Reviews, Lipsey and Cullen state "our focus here, is not on the nature and effects of that general deterrent effect, but, rather, on what is often called specific deterrence - whether the punishment offenders receive is effective in reducing their subsequent criminal behavior". This reviewing techniques were used to determine whether these programs that are implemented promote reduction in crime and deter juveniles from engaging in first-time and further criminal activities.

Crime prevention programs implemented in schools are the most successful when introduced before crimes have been committed. There are several characteristics that could determine which program is best for that individual; 1) familiar demographic distinction: age, gender and ethnicity, 2) prior offense histories and associations with criminal peers that are predictive of the probability of recidivism, and 3) treatment needs for different offenders (problems and circumstances that strongly propel their criminal behavior - example: drug use and poor impulse control). Some of the most successful programs are the ones that implement family interactions and skills to the adults who supervise them.

Surveys taken in the last couple of decades embrace efforts to intervene with adult offenders and, in particular, with at-risk adolescents. Support in treating youth is universal; 97% believe that rehabilitation was an important goal of juvenile prisons. "Furthermore, in several studies in which respondents were asked whether the crime problem should be addressed by spending tax dollars on "early intervention programs" or on "building more prisons", over three-fourths preferred expanded prevention efforts over the option of increasing imprisonment (Cullen et al. 2000, 2007). With continued research, we can begin to narrow the gap between incarceration rates, recidivism and programs specifically geared towards assisting youth with specific delinquent activities.

Analytic Strategy

The proposed analysis will begin by reporting the multivariate detailed statistics on juveniles and programs focused on preventing recidivism. While there has been considerable evidence surrounding the relationship between juveniles and prevention programs, recidivism is still occurring, just reduced slightly; there are still limited studies in the United States showing a consistent trend of reducing recidivism among youth. The following factors might hinder the relationship between recidivism rates and program completion and success; peer influences (low self control), neighborhood and household structure, nature/severity of delinquent acts, substance and drug abuse. The first step is to look at the severity and nature of the crime or crimes committed. Were they violent crimes or property crimes? Was someone threatened injured in the act committed? Was it an organized crime activity? For example, if it was a violent crime was committed, depending on the severity, they may need exposure to aggression management therapy.

Neighborhood, household structure and peer influences are very important areas to analyze as well. Is the juvenile raised in a single-parent household or with both parents? Is there any abuse or neglect going on in the household? Is there a lot of gang activity or crime being committed in the area the juvenile lives in? Are there friends or peers committing delinquent acts and what type? Multi-systematic therapy and family counseling may be an option for juveniles affected with underlying family issues. The surrounding influences are the building-blocks of youth. The individuals that youth hang out around outside of home, the family structure in the home, and the neighborhood/environment around the home help mold youth; building their character and decision-making skills. When altered, youth tend to branch out and find other means of developing their social skills; typically ending in delinquent acts from their lack of all-round structure.

Substance and drug usage also needs to be analyzed closely. Mind altering substances play a major role in delinquent acts as well; treatment for dependency of the substance most likely will be utilized for specific deterrence programs (example: residential treatment centers). Juveniles are affected by different levels of severity in each of these categories and need to be placed in prevention programs according to their needs. Success of these programs can only occur if all the underlying issues are addressed and treated accordingly. Therefore, it is extremely important that when we analyze and determine treatment options that all areas are examined thoroughly.


Project Timeline and Research Calendar

• Started researching possible topics for research proposal. 2/3/2013

• Found topics for research on juvenile recidivism. 2/11/2013

• Each member found a program for juvenile deterrence programs. 2/20/2013

- Scared Straight

- Group Home Therapy

- Aggression Replacement Therapy

- Multi-systemic Therapy

- Restorative Justice

• Created Part 1 of group's proposal. 3/1/2013

• Turned in Research Proposal Part 1 3/7/2013

• Began Part 2 of Research Proposal 3/21/2013

• Started typing Part 2 literature review. 3/24/2013

• Made adjustments to independent and dependent variable 3/27/2013

• Turned in Part 2 Proposal 4/11/2013