Recent Juvenile Aftercare Initiatives
OJJDP's Intensive Aftercare Program

Since 1987, OJJDP has been funding research and development activities in the area of intensive juvenile aftercare. A decade ago, growing concerns about crowding in juvenile corrections facilities, high rates of recidivism, and escalating costs of confinement prompted OJJDP to examine the juvenile aftercare philosophy and practice and to explore options for reform. As originally formulated, the program had four stages:

  • Assessing programs currently in operation or under development and reviewing the relevant research and theoretical literature.

  • Developing a program prototype (model) and related policies and procedures.

  • Transferring the prototype design to a training and technical assistance package.

  • Implementing and testing the prototype in selected jurisdictions.

Initiated as a research and development project conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies in collaboration with the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University at Sacramento, the IAP project culminated in a four-State national demonstration designed to test a model of intensive aftercare developed by this Bulletin's authors. The four pilot programs are as follows:

  • Colorado. The IAP project in Colorado is operated by the State Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), Department of Institutions and serves parts of Arapahoe, Denver (including greater metropolitan Denver), and Jefferson Counties. The site benefits from its proximity to the juvenile offenders' home communities. Only 18 miles from downtown Denver, Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center (LMYSC) is a secure facility whose residents include the most serious and violent delinquent youth in the DYC system. LMYSC houses IAP participants in a single cottage.

  • Nevada. The Division of Nevada Youth Corrections Services' Parole Bureau operates the State's IAP project. Clark County, which has the greatest concentration of serious juvenile offenders committed to State confinement, was selected as the pilot site. The 150 miles between the offenders' home community of Las Vegas and the Caliente Youth Center, the participating youth corrections facility, presented a significant challenge to implementing the IAP model.

  • New Jersey. New Jersey's IAP project focuses on high-risk youth from Camden and Essex (Newark) Counties. These youth are incarcerated in a single cottage at the New Jersey Training School for Boys (NJTSB) in Jamesburg. From NJTSB, IAP participants are moved into affiliated residential centers in the two counties that provide a stepdown transition for community reintegration.

  • Virginia. The Intensive Parole Program (IPP), Virginia's IAP project, is designed for chronic offenders who have been committed to the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center by the Norfolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. A Norfolk Youth Network Community Assessment Team (CAT) handles all IPP cases. CAT works with parole officers, offenders, and offenders' families to identify treatment, service needs, and agencies that can address problems.

For a more detailed description and discussion of these sites, see Altschuler and Armstrong (1995b, 1996, 1997). Details of program eligibility and selection are found in table 3.

These demonstration projects followed 7 years of research, development, and training activity and are presently in the midst of their third year of operation, with the exception of the New Jersey site, which has been discontinued due to implementation difficulties related to restructuring and system reform.

The IAP model currently being tested is theory-driven, risk and needs assessment based, and empirically grounded (Altschuler and Armstrong, 1995a, 1994a, 1994b, 1994c, 1991). The model emphasizes the identification, preparation, transition, and reentry of "high-risk" juvenile offenders from secure confinement back into the community in a gradual, highly structured, and closely monitored fashion. Consequently, it can be viewed as a form of reintegrative confinement. A multifaceted and integrated approach to community reentry, the IAP model requires an overarching case management process that guarantees substantial control over released juvenile offenders and enhanced service delivery focusing on recognized risk and protective factors. To reduce the level of recidivism and relapse, the IAP model also requires that working collaborations be forged across diverse professional and agency boundaries.

A number of previous research and program development efforts have developed frameworks for intervening with serious and chronic juvenile offenders (Elliott and Voss, 1974; Elliott, Huizinga, and Ageton, 1985; Weis and Hawkins, 1981; Fagan and Jones, 1984), but these projects have generally not directed much attention to the special structural and systemic problems that must be confronted in devising strategies that will enable high-risk offenders to make a successful transition back into the community. Distinctive to the IAP model is the focus on the numerous issues and concerns arising from the mostly disconnected and fragmented movement of offenders from court disposition to juvenile authority and/or institution, to aftercare supervision and discharge. Consistent with this approach, a number of principles for programmatic action have been identified and incorporated as a foundation for the IAP model:

  • Preparing juveniles for progressively increased responsibility and freedom in the community.

  • Facilitating interaction and involvement between juveniles and the community.

  • Working with offenders and targeted community support systems (families, peers, schools, employers) on those qualities needed for constructive interactions that advance the juveniles' reintegration into the community.

  • Developing new resources and support services as needed.

  • Monitoring and testing the capacity of juvenile offenders to receive -- and the community to provide -- services and support.

The demonstration programs have been given flexibility to structure and apply the IAP model within local contexts, as long as the program meets certain specifications. Many of these requirements revolve around the IAP design for overarching case management. It is this dimension of the model that defines how clients are identified for particular levels and types of supervision, how clients can be tracked through the system without falling through the cracks, and how specific techniques can aid in the provision of supportive activities and sanctioning measures necessary for client supervision in the community. The requisite components of case management are:

  • Risk assessment and classification for establishing eligibility.

  • Individual case planning that incorporates a family and community perspective.

  • A mix of intensive surveillance and enhanced service delivery.

  • A balance of incentives and graduated consequences coupled with the imposition of realistic, enforceable conditions.

  • Service brokerage with community resources and linkage with social networks.

To date, the demonstration sites have been engaged in selectively fine-tuning and elaborating certain components and features in their particular program applications. The major challenge has been the need to adapt the generic IAP model to the specific problems, needs, and circumstances of the individual jurisdictions. As a group, all have identified and acted on the following programming strategies vital to following the basic framework of the model:

  • Defining the overall aftercare function in a fashion that guarantees the inclusion of staff and program components across the entire continuum, from the point of judicial commitment and residential placement to the termination of community supervision (see table 4).

  • Designing the network of community-based services in a way that responds comprehensively to the problems and needs of serious and chronic juvenile offenders.

  • Devising a framework for case management that ensures continuity of supervision and service delivery, matches clients with appropriate interventions, and brings the most objective procedures to inform decisionmaking in the areas of risk and need.

  • Focusing on collaborative, interagency approaches to supervision and service provision.

The IAP initiative has been funded to include an independent evaluation that incorporates random assignment using an experimental design. The evaluation, which is being conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), includes both process and outcome dimensions. Because IAP participants have only recently begun to be discharged from aftercare, outcome results involving substantial numbers of participating youth are not yet available.

Reintegration, Supervised Release, and Intensive Aftercare Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  July 1999