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The effects of an experimental intensive juvenile probation program on self-reported delinquency and drug use (Lane et al. 2007)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    High Causal Evidence

Citation

Lane, J., Turner, S., Fain, T., & Sehgal, A. (2007). The effects of an experimental intensive juvenile probation program on self-reported delinquency and drug use. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 3(3), 201-219.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the South Oxnard Challenge Project (SOCP), an alternative juvenile probation program, on delinquency and drug use.
  • The study was a randomized controlled trial. Eligible youth were randomly assigned to either a treatment group, which could participate in SOCP, or a control group, which had routine juvenile probation.
  • The study found that significantly more SOCP youth than youth in the control group reported committing a violent crime in the 12 months after starting probation (67.6 versus 55.6 percent). However, SOCP youth indicated they used ecstasy/MDMA less frequently than control youth in the past 30 days (1.8 versus 4.2 days).
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the SOCP, and not to other factors.

Intervention Examined

South Oxnard Challenge Project (SOCP)

Features of the Intervention

The SOCP was an intensive, family-based juvenile probation program in Ventura County, California. It provided a variety of social and community services, providing a team-based approach with more frequent contacts than typical probation. The intervention period lasted from seven to nine months. Youth were eligible to participate in the program if they were ages 12 to 18; living in South Oxnard or Port Huneme, California; had a citation or violation of probation; and had a medium to high risk of reoffending, according to a risk assessment.

Features of the Study

The authors randomly assigned 539 eligible youth into either the SOCP or routine juvenile probation. The evaluation team conducted one-hour interviews a year after random assignment, asking youth about their involvement in a variety of offenses and drug use. The authors then compared the percentage of youth in each group who reported engaging in certain activities and the mean number of times the youth engaged in them to estimate the effects of SOCP on delinquency and drug use.

Findings

  • The study found that significantly more SOCP youth than youth in the control group reported committing a violent crime in the 12 months after starting probation (67.6 versus 55.6 percent).
  • However, SOCP youth indicated they used ecstasy/MDMA less frequently than control youth in the past 30 days (1.8 versus 4.2 days).

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Outcome data were based on self-reported delinquent behavior and drug use, which are less reliable than administrative records. In particular, youth in the SOCP group might have exaggerated or minimized their self-reported behaviors to please the evaluation team member who interviewed them.

The authors examined differences between SOCP and control youth across 18 types of crimes and 13 types of drugs. Performing multiple statistical tests on related outcomes makes it more likely that some impacts will be found statistically significant purely by chance and not because they reflect program effectiveness. The authors did not perform statistical adjustments to account for the multiple tests, so the number of statistically significant findings in these domains is likely to be overstated.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the SOCP, and not to other factors.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2016