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Evaluation of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative (Barton et al. 2008)

  • Findings

    See findings section of this profile.

    Evidence Rating

    Low Causal Evidence

Citation

Barton, W., Jarjoura, G., & Rosay, A. (2008). Evaluation of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative. Indianapolis: Indiana University School of Social Work, and Anchorage: Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Highlights

    • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Targeted Re-Entry Initiative on youth’s recidivism.
    • The authors used administrative data to match Initiative participants to a comparison group of nonparticipants released from the same rehabilitation facilities. The authors compared recidivism rates among program participants and the comparison group.
    • The authors reported a statistically significant relationship between participation in the Targeted Re-Entry Initiative and higher rates of re-arrest at one of the three sites studied, and no statistically significant correlations at the other two sites.
    • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not include sufficient controls for pre-existing differences between the study groups in their analysis. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative

Features of the Intervention

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative consisted of 90 days of programming inside juvenile correctional facilities and re-entry case management provided by Boys & Girls Club staff during and following incarceration. Programming varied widely by site, but was generally focused on character and leadership development, health and life skills, arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and education and career development.

Features of the Study

Targeted Re-Entry Initiative participants from three juvenile correctional facilities—McLaughlin Youth Center in Alaska, Alexander Youth Center in Arkansas, and Ethan Allen School in Wisconsin—composed the treatment group that is the focus of this review. The comparison group in Alaska was composed of youth released from McLaughlin Youth Center before the center implemented comprehensive targeted re-entry services. In Arkansas and Wisconsin, the comparison groups were drawn from nonparticipants from the same communities and juvenile detention centers who were released in the same period as the treatment group youth.

The authors estimated program impacts by comparing recidivism rates among program participants at each site after the intervention against those of the comparison group from the same site. Recidivism was measured by the percentage of youth with subsequent arrests and subsequent convictions, and was analyzed overall and separately for felony and misdemeanor offenses. The authors also calculated a recidivism score that reflected the frequency and seriousness of subsequent offenses.

Findings

    • The study did not find any statistically significant effects on recidivism in Arkansas or Wisconsin.
    • The authors reported a statistically significant relationship between participation in the Targeted Re-Entry Initiative at the McLaughlin Youth Center in Alaska and rates of re-arrest that were, on average, 15 percentage points higher than among comparison group members.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

This is a nonexperimental study based on comparing youth who participated in the initiative to a comparison group that did not participate in the program. In Alaska, the comparison group comprised youth involved in the juvenile justice system before the implementation of the initiative. In Arkansas and Wisconsin, the comparison groups comprised youth who were released from correctional facilities during the same time period, but did not participate in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative. The study showed that treatment and comparison groups differed on important demographic characteristics before the treatment group participated in the intervention. The authors did not control for those differences in the analyses, so the reported estimates may reflect pre-existing differences between program participants and the comparison groups, and not the effect of the re-entry initiative.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not include sufficient controls for pre-existing differences between the study groups in their analysis. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Targeted Re-Entry Initiative; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

March 2016