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NCJ Number: 221967 Find in a Library
Title: "Experimenting Agency": The California Youth Authority Research Division
Journal: Evaluation Review  Volume:27  Issue:3  Dated:June 2003  Pages:228-266
Author(s): Ted Palmer; Anthony Petrosino
Date Published: June 2008
Page Count: 39
Sponsoring Agency: Andrew W Mellon Foundation
New York, NY 10021
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the institutional and political reasons why the California Youth Authority (CYA) embarked on a series of randomized field trials during the 1960s and 1970s in testing interventions for juvenile and young-adult offenders, as well as the impact of the field trials on the agency and California justice and reasons why these randomized trials were subsequently used less often.
Abstract: There is consensus among evaluation researchers that randomized field trials, when properly implemented, can provide the least equivocal findings in tests of criminal justice interventions. In the CYA, the period of randomized field trials was ushered in through a strong research culture that CYA leadership had developed and nurtured. Individuals who valued high-quality information for decisionmaking had begun to fill key administrative positions in justice agencies at a time when empirical data were becoming more valued by the State government. This culture was fueled and formalized when a budget analyst asked that outcome-centered evaluations be directly linked to new and proposed treatment programs. He then recommended funding for the CYA in creating a Research Division with full-time staff. This provided the CYA with a legislative mandate to evaluate these and related operations. By the early and mid-1970s, many of the CYA's broad types of institution-based and parole approaches had largely settled in, such as educational training, vocational training, counseling, psychiatric treatment, and employment assistance, and randomized research showed them to be effective in improving outcomes for offenders. Randomized evaluation research as a rule of policy and practice began to wane, however, under complex changes in the political climate and in CYA personnel, who began to shun long-term, strategic planning as they dealt with ongoing operational crises and short-term budgeting issues. 40 notes and 67 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile Corrections/Detention
Index Term(s): California; Evaluative research; Juvenile Corrections/Detention effectiveness; Juvenile program evaluation; Organization development; Political influences
Note: For other articles in this series, see NCJ-221966 and NCJ-221968-71.
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