Commentary: The Effectiveness of Aftercare Programs -- Examining the Evidence
The first essay in this OJJDP Bulletin, by Altschuler and Armstrong, critically evaluates recent juvenile aftercare initiatives and presents a proposed model for an effective aftercare program. The authors review the aftercare initiatives by asking whether the program had an identifiable philosophy, whether it was implemented in line with this philosophy, and what impact the program had on the participants.
This commentary assesses what is known about juvenile aftercare programs based on a report entitled Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising (Sherman et al., 1997). The report added an additional dimension to the examination of new initiatives -- namely, whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that such initiatives are effective in preventing crime. The report weighed both the scientific merit and the outcomes of the research to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the programs in reducing recidivism. Juvenile aftercare programs must be evaluated on the basis of the scientific evidence. The question addressed in this commentary is whether there is evidence that after-care programs of the type proposed by Altschuler and Armstrong are effective in reducing the recidivism of juveniles.