Based on a literature review, this study examined the findings of outcome evaluations for aftercare/reentry programs for juveniles who have been in correctional facilities.
Recent evaluation reports on two major initiatives in juvenile aftercare/reentry demonstrate that providing aftercare services to youth returning from institutional placement is a complex process and cannot be implemented indiscriminately in communities without careful consideration of the most appropriate and effective methods for providing needed services to youth while they are incarcerated and without continuing to provide these services and supervision after youth are released from confinement. Recent evaluations of aftercare programming have not shown as promising results as earlier program evaluations. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently launched an initiative called the Intensive Aftercare Program (IAP). It was designed to intervene and reduce recidivism rates among high-risk, incarcerated juvenile offenders after their institutional release (Mears and Travis, 2004). The IAP model is based on the view that "effective intervention requires not only intensive supervision and services after institutional release, but also involves a focus on reintegration during incarceration and a structure and gradual transition between institutionalization and aftercare." The IAP evaluation, which used an experimental design, focused outcome measurement on recidivism rates. Outcome data indicated that IAP did not significantly reduce recidivism. A few years after the IAP evaluation the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) began evaluation of its Targeted Reentry (TR) initiative, which provided aftercare services to juvenile offenders. TR combined the IAP model with a cultural emphasis on promoting positive youth development. A TR program evaluation, however, found results similar to the IAP evaluation; recidivism rates for participating youth were not significantly different from the outcomes of non-participants. Methodological weaknesses in the IAP and TR evaluations are discussed as possible explanations for the reported outcomes. 18 references