Client Eligibility and SelectionThe basic eligibility criteria are the same across sites. Eligible youth:
The number of youth enrolled in the demonstration project's experimental and control groups is lower than expected. Early planning studies indicated that a minimum of 200 youth (IAP and control group) in each site were expected to be enrolled during the first 2 years of intake. However, after approximately 3 years (November 1998), all the sites except Nevada had fallen far short of this goal: Colorado had randomized 150 youth, Nevada had randomized 212, and Virginia had randomized 121.
Two key factors in the reduction of the IAP-eligible pool were institutional crowding and the system's efforts to control it. In Colorado, at about the time that IAP was being introduced, the State legislature mandated more extensive use of privately contracted beds for serious offenders in an attempt to reduce crowding and costs. DYC responded by expanding dramatically the number of contracted beds with organizations such as Glen Mills and the High Plains Youth Center. Filling these beds then became a priority, and the unanticipated consequence was a reduction in the number of eligible youth who remained at DYC's Lookout Mountain facility. Approximately one-fourth of all high-risk youth committed to DYC were not eligible for IAP because of placement at private facilities.
A similar situation occurred in New Jersey, where officials aggressively diverted large numbers of committed youth from the IAP "host" institution (New Jersey Training School for Boys) to smaller, less-secure public facilities. There, too, approximately one-fourth of the high-risk youth were made ineligible for IAP because of these diversion practices. The situation in Virginia was somewhat different. Officials at the local level (Norfolk) introduced a series of programs designed as alternatives to institutionalization approximately 1 year after IAP was implemented. Although no data are available, it is believed that these programs helped reduce the overall level of commitments to the State and lowered the number of youth who might have been eligible for IAP.
The lower-than-expected enrollments have potential implications for the evaluation (e.g., a smaller study population) but also had some programmatic ramifications. For example, IAP and non-IAP youth were mixed in the IAP-designated cottages in Virginia during the first 2 years of operation. This presented difficulties for institutional cottage staff as they tried to implement IAP-specific services for one portion of their unit's population and not the other. In addition, the "low and slow" intake levels meant that the number of youth actually in the aftercare phase remained much lower than anticipated during the first 2 years of implementation.11
Each of the sites took steps to address these intake issues. These included making case-by-case decisions, in a limited manner, to accept risk scores slightly below the cut-off (Nevada, New Jersey, Virginia); lowering the risk scale cutoff points to define more youth as high risk (Nevada, Colorado); prioritizing institutional beds for IAP youth (Colorado); and lowering the age eligibility from 16 to 13 years of age and designating a second institution as an IAP host facility (Virginia). Only the steps taken by Nevada, however, appear to have had a sustained impact on IAP enrollments.
Data on the characteristics of the IAP-eligible population indicate that the sites are in fact serving their intended targeted population of high-risk, high-need offenders.12 Given the aggressive diversion practices at several of the sites, the youth ultimately selected for the project are in many ways the most difficult in the correctional population. One parole officer has commented that "having one IAP kid is like having two of any other parolee."
The age of the IAP-eligible population is quite similar across sitesat least 80 percent of the youth are age 16 or older. The groups are very different, however, with respect to ethnicity. In Colorado, the project population is primarily Hispanic (39 percent) and white (34 percent), Nevada's youth are primarily African American (39 percent) and white (37 percent), and Virginia's youth are predominantly African American (83 percent).
Offense histories differ considerably by site. Colorado youth are significantly more likely to have been committed for a person-related offense (49 percent) than youth in either Nevada (17 percent) or Virginia (14 percent). At the same time, Colorado youth are less likely to be chronic offenders (three or more prior adjudications) or chronic felony offenders (three or more prior felony adjudications) than is the case in Nevada and Virginia.In Colorado, only 30 percent of the high-risk youth have three or more adjudications (compared with 97 percent of the youth in Nevada and 88 percent of those in Virginia), and only 7 percent have three or more prior felony adjudications (compared with more than half the youth in the other two sites). These data are presented in figures 1 and 2.
As shown in table 2 above, large proportions of the high-risk youth in each site have personal and family problems that can present significant barriers to successful reintegration. At least three-fourths of the youth in each site were not attending school at the time of their commitment to the State juvenile corrections agency. One-fourth were identified as being in need of special education. Each site also had substantial numbers of youth with major mental health or substance abuse problems and youth who had been victims of abuse or neglect. Just as problematic is the family environment to which the youth will likely return upon release to aftercare. Approximately half of the youth in each site had a family member with a major substance abuse problem, and an even larger percentage had a family member who had been incarcerated.
|Implementation of the Intensive Community-Based Aftercare Program||