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Detention Diversion Advocacy: An Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1999
16 pages
This paper provides an overview and evaluation of San Francisco's Detention Diversion Advocacy Program (DDAP), which involves lay persons acting on behalf of youthful offenders at disposition hearings for the purpose of diverting appropriate juveniles from detention to appropriate community services.
Detention advocacy involves identifying youth likely to be detained pending their adjudication. Once a potential client is identified, DDAP case managers present a release plan to the judge that includes a list of appropriate community services (e.g., tutoring, drug counseling, and family counseling) that will be accessed on the youth's behalf. Additionally, the plan includes specified objectives as a means to assess the youth's progress in the program. Emphasis is given to allowing the youth to live at home while participating in the program. If home placement is not a viable option, program staff will identify and secure a suitable alternative. If the judge deems the release plan acceptable, the youth is released to DDAP supervision. In 1997 the Youth Guidance Center in San Francisco conducted an outcome evaluation of the DDAP program. The evaluation used chi-square statistical analysis. Data were collected from printouts obtained from the San Francisco Department of Juvenile Probation in order to compare a group of DDAP youth with a group of youth who remained within the juvenile court system. Systematic sampling techniques were used to select the comparison group. Findings show that when recidivism is used as the key measure of success, the youth referred to DDAP have been more successful than those not referred. DDAP youth, who might have otherwise been deemed a threat to public safety and placed in detention for days or even weeks, had recidivism rates that were nearly 50 percent less than those of the comparison group. These findings support the proposition that intensive supervision over an extended period of time, coupled with placement in community-based programs, enabled DDAP youth to lead relatively normal lives while reducing the likelihood of further contact with the juvenile justice system. 9 tables and 51 references

Date Published: September 1, 1999