The Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative (JJRRI) was a Vanderbilt University's Peabody Research Institute) and supported demonstration sites in Delaware, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
The demonstration sites implemented strategies that promoted the consistent use of empirically based risk and needs assessments, developed dispositional matrices to inform decisionmaking about levels of supervision and services, and implemented the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP™) to assess and guide improvements in the programs delivered to youth in the juvenile justice system.
OJJDP funded and the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center conducted a process and outcome evaluation to investigate the implementation of JJRRI, with a particular focus on whether implementing the SPEP™ improved the quality and effectiveness of juvenile justice programming to reduce recidivism and system costs.
Goals and Objectives:
To achieve the original goals of the evaluation to assess effectiveness and costs, the research team's first objective was to conduct a process evaluation of the initiative as a whole and the implementation of the SPEP™ rating system in particular. The researchers' second objective was to locally validate the SPEP™ rating system at the demonstration sites, using local youth and service-level data. However, limitations in available risk data, the limited number of services rated, and an extended timeline for implementing the SPEP™ precluded such a validation. Instead, the researchers used the data from one site to illustrate the requirements and process that would be involved in locally validating the SPEP™. Consequently, the evaluation and its products focused on research objectives that included the following:
- the implementation of the SPEP™ rating system at the demonstration sites, including implementation requirements, successes, and challenges, and implications for sustainability and replication;
- the process to locally validate the relationship between SPEP™ ratings and reduced recidivism; and
- the implementation of JJRRI and its components at the demonstration sites, including progress made, challenges encountered, and the sustainability of reforms.
The study implemented a variety of quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies to achieve the process evaluation objectives listed above. Data collection occurred between 2012 and 2015, and three research reports were produced between 2016 and early 2017.
Publications and Products:
OJJDP archived a series of three research reports from the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center developed through the JJRRI evaluation:
OJJDP also archived a report—Vanderbilt University's Peabody Research Institute, which served as the demonstration project's technical assistance providers.
Benjamin Adams, Social Science Analyst
Benjamin.Adams@usdoj.gov | 202-616-3687