Treatment and Sanctions for SVJ Offenders

The literature notes that effective treatments exist for institutionalized and noninstitutionalized delinquent juveniles (see table 4). A meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental intervention programs for reducing the recidivism of SVJ offenders showed that the most effective programs for noninstitutionalized offenders involve interpersonal skills training, behavioral contracting, or individual counseling. The most effective programs for institutional offenders involve interpersonal skills training, cognitive-behavioral treatment, or teaching family homes. The effect of intervention is greater when the duration of treatment is longer.

Most SVJ offenders slow down their rate of offending after correctional interventions. However, alternatives to secure confinement are at least as effective as incarceration in suppressing recidivism and are far less costly. Juveniles who are transferred to the adult court are more likely to be incarcerated but also more likely to reoffend. However, because of the inadequacy of research designs, the relative effectiveness of juvenile and adult court dispositions is unclear.

Existing research on intermediate sanctions such as electronic monitoring and community tracking suggests that availability of and participation in treatment are associated with lower recidivism. Unfortunately, many offenders never receive treatment.

When considering appropriate treatment and sanctions for SVJ offenders, the severity of the presenting offense, the risk of recidivism for serious offenses, and the individual needs of the juvenile offender must be taken into account along with the following factors:

Bullet SVJ offenders constitute a minority of identified offenders in the juvenile court system.
Bullet Reoffending can be reduced by the use of appropriate interventions, especially interpersonal skills training and cognitive-behavioral treatment.
Bullet Interventions should be multimodal to address multiple problems and integrated across the juvenile justice system, mental health system, schools, and child welfare agencies.
Bullet Aftercare programs are essential to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  May 1998