2018 Issue


Recidivism among First-Time Offending Truant Youth with Mental Health Symptoms 

Hannah Doucette, M.A., Northeastern University
Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D., The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; University of California, San Francisco
Christie J. Rizzo, Ph.D., Northeastern University
Selby M. Conrad, Ph.D., The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, Rhode Island Hospital
Pages 1-19

Little is known about which first-time offending truant youth re-offend, especially in comparison to youth with first-time delinquent offenses.  The purpose of this study was to compare rates and risk factors for recidivism between youth with first-time truancy offenses and delinquent offenses. All youth included in this study were referred for forensic mental health evaluation due to mental health concerns.  Findings revealed that rates of 12-month recidivism were comparable and both groups were more likely to commit a future delinquent offense than a truancy or status offense.  Risk for recidivism among truant youth was higher for those with an externalizing disorder and those who witnessed domestic violence.  Within truant recidivists, being male and having a history of substance use increased likelihood of future delinquency.  Study findings suggest that universal screening for truant youth upon court contact is justified and may be useful for selecting targeted recidivism prevention and intervention efforts.  This may be particularly important for truant youth with mental health concerns, as indicated by the sample used in this study.

Keywords: juvenile justice, predictors of recidivism, psychological disorders, reoffend, status offenses Download Article

Residential Staff Perspectives on Implementing Collaborative and Proactive Solutions in a Juvenile Justice Setting

Emily Lott, MSW, Doctoral Student, School of Social Work and Social Research, Portland State University
Pages 20-38

Studies in juvenile justice residential settings tend to focus on outcomes of various interventions, but there is a lack of research that gives attention to how these interventions are applied. This study seeks to fill the gap between intervention and implementation by exploring nine residential program staffs’ perspectives on implementing Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) after previously using solely a point and level system. CPS is a cognitive, skills-based behavioral modification approach that has been advocated for use in place of point and level systems. Thematic analysis revealed that employees experienced personal and systemic challenges in implementing CPS, had to actively work to change the program organizational culture while embedded in the broader juvenile justice climate, and redefined the meaning of treatment in the residential program. The lessons learned from this study are valuable for those interested in using CPS in residential settings with juvenile justice populations and any individual or organization implementing a new intervention. Implications for future research are discussed, including a need for further research on implementation. Download Article

High School Assignment Completion: A Case Study of a Collaborative Intervention in Detention

Sarup R. Mathur, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Professor, Division of Educational Leadership, Arizona State University
Teasie Colla, B.A., Program Manager, Juvenile Justice Services Division, Arizona Supreme Court
Suman Pangasa, M.A., M. Phil, MEd, Education Program Manager, Yuma County Juvenile Justice Center
Gina M. Thompson, MEd, Superintendent, Yuma Union High School District 70
Rebecca I. Hartzell, Ph.D., University of Arizona
Pages 39-53

A collaborative intervention, the assignment completion program, was developed by a county detention facility and a school district to support the academic success of high school students who were detained in the facility. Communication protocols were developed for each student who entered this detention facility to enhance academic success. Results from the interviews of two education leaders about the intervention are shared in this case study. The findings indicate that inter-agency collaboration contributed to youth academic success. The drop-out rates for the participating school and recidivism rates for detainees went down. Implications include (a) developing strong collaboration between public schools and detention, (b) establishing protocols for targeted communication focused on student academic success, and (c) building a strong commitment to post-release success of detainees. Download Article

Juvenile Competency Law and Remediation Programming: Santa Clara County’s Experience Replicating the Virginia Model

Shelly L. Jackson, University of Virginia
Pages 54-74

Due process protections were first guaranteed for juveniles in 1967 with the Supreme Court Decision In re Gault.  Juvenile competency law, one aspect of due process, has been adopted in only 21 states.  In 2009, Santa Clara County, California, embarked on the journey of adopting juvenile competency legislation and programming, replicating a well-established juvenile remediation model formed in Virginia in 1999.  This journey provides a platform for reflecting on some of the service delivery issues that are embedded first in establishing a remediation program for juveniles, and secondly, in attempting to transfer a model program from one state with a comprehensive set of laws to a second state with a less comprehensive set of laws regarding juvenile competency. This article provides a historical and procedural review of juvenile competency law and programming, and concludes by presenting Santa Clara County’s journey of challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned, with the goal of offering guidance to other states contemplating adoption of critical protections for their juvenile defendants.  Download Article

Exploring the Relationship of Mental Health and Spirituality to Family Functioning: Does Spirituality Add to Our Understanding

Chris Stewart, Ph.D., Department of Criminal Justice, University of Central Florida
Lori Drum, MA, LMHC, College of Health and Public Affairs, University of Central Florida
Lisa Rapp, Ph.D., Graduate Social Work Program, Saint Leo University
Pages 75-96

Adolescent mental health symptomology has been strongly linked to adolescent problematic behavior, including delinquency and family issues. Adolescent spirituality however, while demonstrating some evidence as a protective factor against some problematic outcomes, such as delinquent behavior, has not been as thoroughly explored in relation to other more well established factors such as family functioning. There is little understanding, for example, as to whether spirituality may act as a protective factor for overall family functioning, particularly in the presence of other identified factors. This study sought to examine the relationship of adolescent spirituality and mental health with family functioning in a sample of incarcerated adolescent males. A longitudinal design was employed to measure both spirituality and mental health during incarceration and post discharge from a boot camp. Results support the likely importance of adolescent spirituality as a protective factor for family functioning. Download Article

Comparison of the Overlap between Juvenile Justice Processing and Behavioral Health Screening, Assessment and Referral

Diana Bowser, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Brandy F. Henry, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Gail A. Wasserman, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University
Danica Knight, Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University
Sheena Gardner, Social Science Research Center, Mississippi State University
Kate Krupka, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University
Bill Grossi, Juvenile Justice Partner (Kentucky)
Margaret Cawood, Juvenile Justice Partner (Georgia)
Tisha Wiley, National Institute on Drug Abuse
Angela Robertson, Research Professor & Associate Director of the Social Science Research Center, Mississippi State University
Pages 97-125

Given the large proportion of youth involved in the juvenile justice system who meet criteria for behavioral health disorders, the system is charged with delivering not only criminal justice programing, but also behavioral health services.  Behavioral health service delivery is typically done through collaborative partnerships with behavioral health agencies.  This study created process maps which describe the flows and boundaries of these partnerships with respect to screening, assessment and referral to treatment.  Process maps of juvenile justice and behavioral health systems from six juvenile departments in different states (Mississippi, Kentucky, New York, Georgia, Texas, and Pennsylvania) are presented.  Both the methodology of creating process maps and results from the analysis of the maps are presented.  Results indicate that behavioral health screening, assessment, and referral to treatment were occurring at all sites, typically with standardized tools.  Overall trends were that juveniles tended to have more screenings, assessments, and referrals to behavioral health services as they moved deeper into the juvenile justice system and were placed into more formal juvenile justice services.  Within the analysis of interagency communication, these results were mirrored; settings that were more formal and located deeper into the juvenile justice system had more robust interagency communication. Download Article

Wilderness Based Therapy with At-Risk Youth: The Impact Upon Conflict Resolution, Communication and Community

Frank Merenda, Ed.D., Marist College
Jaime R. Argueta, Jr., University of Cincinnati
Pages 126-148

The purpose of this interpretive case study was to explore the perceptions and attitudes of at-risk youth subsequent to their participation in an experiential learning wilderness program. Thirty three male participants aged 11-14 participated in the study. Findings are based on a thematic analysis of qualitative data gathered through semi-structured interviews within the framework of resiliency theory. Results indicate favorable perceptions and attitudes for activities within the program and for the themes of communication, conflict resolution, and community engagement, and a sense of resiliency against challenges. These constructs are described in the Youth Risk Program Evaluation Tool (YARPET) and the literature review as typically targeted youth development objectives for adventure-based youth-at-risk programs. Theoretical and practical implications for experiential programming include concepts of resiliency, risk, and protective factors. Download Article