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Reentry experiences of confined juvenile offenders: Characteristics, service receipt and outcomes of juvenile male participants in the SVORI multi-site evaluation (Hawkins et al. 2010)

Citation

Hawkins, S., Lattimore, P., Dawes, D., & Visher, C. (2010). Reentry experiences of confined juvenile offenders: Characteristics, service receipt and outcomes of juvenile male participants in the SVORI multi-site evaluation. The multi-site evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative. NCJ 230423. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI.

Highlights

  • The study examined the impact of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) on employment, education, and recidivism among juvenile incarcerated males.
  • The study used propensity scores to match participants in SVORI to nonparticipants who were similar on observed characteristics. The study used data from interviews collected at multiple time points through 15 months after release.
  • The study found that SVORI participants were more likely than nonparticipants to be enrolled in school 3 months post-release (68 and 52 percent, respectively) and were more likely than nonparticipants to have a job with benefits 15 months post-release (69 and 40 percent, respectively).
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the SVORI program, but other factors might also have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI)

Features of the Intervention

The National Institute of Justice funded the SVORI program and required that enrollees be younger than 35 and that the program provide community supervision after release from confinement. This report focused on the results for youth. The program’s goals were to improve the quality of life and self-sufficiency of reentering youth through employment, housing, family, and community involvement; to improve health by addressing substance use and mental health issues; to reduce recidivism through close post-release supervision; and to achieve systems change through multiagency collaboration. The program included three phases (in-prison, post-release supervision, and post-supervision). Local programs were customized and there was considerable variation in the treatment condition across sites.

In Colorado, the SVORI participants received a parole advocate who provided concentrated resources during the reentry process. The program included a focus on making the family an important part of the transition process. South Carolina assigned SVORI youth a reintegration coordinator in place of a community caseworker. Compared to community caseworkers, these coordinators provided more intensive case management and supervision and planned for transition and reintegration earlier for SVORI participants. In Florida, SVORI participants were provided with curriculum and release planning activities before their release. After release, they received ongoing educational and vocational support. In Kansas, SVORI participants received intensive support and planning services from a community reentry facilitator.

Features of the Study

The study included 337 males with a mean age of 17 who had been released from incarceration in the four study sites. The authors matched SVORI participants to similar nonparticipants using propensity scores developed from baseline demographic information and pre-intervention measures of education and criminal history. When possible, the comparison group members included youth who were released from the same correctional facilities and were returning to the same geographic areas as the SVORI participants. Comparison group members received standard post-release services.

Researchers conducted interviews with participants and nonparticipants to collect information on educational and other outcomes 3, 9, and 15 months following their release from incarceration. Data collection occurred from July 2004 to May 2007.

Findings

  • Juvenile SVORI participants were more likely than nonparticipants to be enrolled in school 3 months post-release (68 versus 52 percent). However, this did not extend to the 9 and 15-month follow-ups.
  • Juvenile SVORI participants were more likely than nonparticipants to have jobs with benefits 15 months post-release (69 versus 40 percent).
  • There were no statistically significant effects on recidivism.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors noted that, by and large, SVORI participants received most of the services offered to them as part of the program. However, results from the follow-up surveys suggested that most youth reported greater service needs than actual services received.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the SVORI program, but other factors might also have contributed.

Additional Sources

Lattimore, P.K., & Steffen, D.M. (2009). The multi-site evaluation of SVORI: Methodology and analytic approach. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International.

Reviewed by CLEAR

July 2016