INTENSIVE AFTERCARE FOR HIGH-RISK JUVENILE PAROLEES: A MODEL PROGRAM DESIGN
Growing concerns about crowding in secure juvenile correctional facilities, high rates of recidivism and escalating costs of confinement have fueled renewed interest in bringing change and innovative programming to juvenile aftercare/parole philosophy and practice. A dismal record has been compiled by the juvenile corrections field in its effort to reduce the reoffending rate for a substantial number of juveniles released from secure confinement. Research indicates that failure tends to occur disproportionately with a subgroup of released juvenile offenders who have established a long record of misconduct that began at an early age. Not only do such "high-risk" youth tend to exhibit a persistent pattern of justice system contact (e.g., arrests, adjudications, placements), but they are plagued by a number of other need-related risk factors frequently involving a combination of problems associated with family, negative peer influence, school difficulties and substance abuse. In addition to these common need-related risk factors, there are a variety of other important ancillary needs and problems that while not generally "predictive" of reoffending are still problems that some, and at times many, high-risk youngsters have and which when present must be addressed. For example, while there is widespread consensus that learning disabilities and emotional disturbance are not causally linked to delinquency, this is hardly grounds for ignoring these conditions when they are present in identified youth.
Responding to these concerns, the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the U.S. Department of Justice issued a request for proposals entitled, "Intensive Community-Based Aftercare Programs" in July 1987. This research and development initiative was designed to assess, test and disseminate information on intensive juvenile aftercare program prototypes/models for chronic serious juvenile offenders who initially require secure confinement. The project is viewed by OJJDP as one means to assist public and private correctional agencies in developing and implementing promising aftercare approaches. OJJDP is explicit in stating program goals:
Effective aftercare programs focused on serious offenders which provide intensive supervision to ensure public safety, and services designed to facilitate the reintegration process may allow some offenders to be released earlier, as well as reduce recidivism among offenders released from residential facilities. This should relieve institutional overcrowding, reduce the cost of supervising juvenile offenders, and ultimately decrease the number of juveniles who develop lengthy delinquent careers and often become the core of the adult criminal population (Federal Register, 1987:26238-26239).