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Advancing the Use of Evidence-Based Practices
Project Description and Background
A second and related mission is to increase the state’s return on its investment – to provide assistance necessary to improve the effectiveness of the programs and strategies that receive state funding. Over the past 15 years, rigorous evaluations have demonstrated that a small number of rehabilitation programs – commonly called evidence-based practices – reduce juvenile delinquency, crime and recidivism. Implementation of these programs is important for two reasons. First, many juvenile justice programs have little if any effect on recidivism and often make matters worse. Second, reducing juvenile crime and recidivism holds the promise of reducing adult crime and thus our corrections crisis. Washington State, based on a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, recently decided to invest additional public funds in evidence-based programs to reduce juvenile recidivism rather than invest in a new planned prison.
The Governor’s Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy (OGYVP), as one of its several missions, is charged with assessing the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in the juvenile justice and gang violence prevention fields, determining which are most effective in terms of implementation and outcome and promoting those that are proven to be most cost-efficient and effective.
California probation departments, which have the highest rate of youth in custody in the nation, are best situated to implement these evidence-based programs. Though most of the state’s chief probation officers recognize the need to use these proven practices, and many have begun to do so, there are several obstacles to comprehensive state-wide implementation. The literature on evidence-based practices has created confusion about which practices or programs in fact reduce recidivism. There are multiple “lists” with varying and inconsistent terminology and criteria, and the efficacy of some of the lists warrants serious scrutiny.
OGYVP has begun to work with the state’s probation departments to address these challenges. In January 2009, OGYVP convened a working group comprised of numerous chief probation officers, juvenile justice experts, a university and other state offices (the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Division of Juvenile Justice, the Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) and the Administrative Office of the Courts) to explore the creation of a resource center that will have the expertise and resources to support the work of individual probation departments as they move from planning through implementation of evidence-based practices.
- To dispel the confusion around the use of evidence-based practices, OGYVP engaged a national expert with a group of advisors to prepare a ranked list of evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs and practices. To compile this list, the panel of experts developed an Evidence-Based Practice Rating System, which scores programs and practices on effectiveness, ease of implementation and cost-effectiveness. Our consultant will apply this rating system to the better known programs and strategies being considered for use in juvenile justice cases today and ranked them accordingly.
This review should put an end to most of the confusion among the “dueling” lists. It will provide California public officials and community service providers with an accurate and up-to-date list of proven and promising violence prevention and intervention programs.
- In support of California’s efforts to reduce gang and youth violence among youth in the juvenile justice system, the CSA, in consultation with OGYVP, issued a Request for Application (RFA) to identify county probation departments that are prepared to implement and or expand anger management and youth violence prevention training programs to youth in custodial settings and in the community. Federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) funds totaling $1.1 million were set aside for this project. Funds are to be used by probation departments to contract for services with providers of training for an evidence-based anger management and youth violence prevention program. The providers were selected through a separate application process. OGYVP will work with CSA to monitor the implementation of these projects.
- OGYVP will continue to pursue additional opportunities to support probation departments in their implementation of evidence-based practices, including the creation of the aforementioned resource center.
Related Documents and Reports
- Preventing and Reducing Youth Crime and Violence: Using Evidence-Based Practices (.pdf)
- CalGRIP, Anger Management and Youth Violence Prevention Training and Technical Assistance Project (.pdf)
OGYVP Chief Probation Officer Working Group