Aftercare• The transition from juvenile corrections to the community (also called reentry or reintegration) is a time of great uncertainty for many youth – especially those who have been incarcerated for longer periods of time• Youth return to the community have to confront a number of challenges, both the ones they were faced with before their incarceration and sometimes new ones as well• Almost all youth will return to the same disadvantaged schools and neighborhoods from which they came and will continue to lack positive role models or career opportunities• They also return to live within the same family dynamics, which often include parents with addictions, mental health issues, unemployment, and a lack of coping or problem-solving skills• Youth frequently gravitate toward the same delinquent peers with whom they committed the offenses that led to their original incarcerations
The Importance of Aftercare• Many believe that aftercare provisions may hold the key to the effective reentry of juvenile delinquents and significant reduction of subsequent recidivism levels• Aftercare programs aim to provide services and supervisions that assist juveniles who are released from out-of-home placements in effectively reintegrating into their communities• This is done through collaborative linkage with the full range of public and/or private sector organizations and individuals in the community• The primary concern of aftercare is the rehabilitative or continuity of care and incorporating a broad range of services and intensive intervention that begins before release and continues after the youth is released into the community• All youth adjudicated in a juvenile court will eventually return to the community
The Importance of Aftercare• To plan for their release, a resident and his or her case manager will examine the youth’s criminal history, patterns of offending, the information reported in predisposition reports, needs assessments, and psychological assessments• From that information, they will establish a set of goals that typically center upon upgrading his or her education, working toward a general equivalency diploma (GED), career preparation, or addressing substance abuse, possibly directly related to the offense(s) that was committed• Aftercare should address a number of areas: antisocial personality patterns, pro-criminal attitudes, social supports for crime, social support for crime, substance abuse, family/marital relationships, school/work, prosocial recreational activities• There is now a growing recognition that a youth’s work toward his or her rehabilitation does not end when he or she is released from a residential placement
Forms of Aftercare• Residents who served long terms of incarceration in a training school tended to receive higher levels of community supervision• The longer the resident is placed in these facilities, the greater his or her needs for reentry planning and services• Aftercare can fulfill the following goals: • Maintaining continuity in educational programming • Supporting continuity of communication with other juvenile justice programs and services • Including, involving, and respecting the family and other significant relationships as partners in the ultimate goal of successful reentry • Gathering and disseminating information that can be used by those involved in the case planning for a youth• These goals are based on two principles: (a) to reduce the disruptions in the youth’s life and (b) gathering information and building relationships that support the case management process• One challenge is that detention services are not typically treatment oriented
Forms of Aftercare• As these youths are typically adjudicated on more serious offenses, have a greater number of problems, and have been away from the community for a longer amount of time, their transition to the community tends to be more problematic• A juvenile may receive a vast array of aftercare services including formal needs assessments, orientation to the community, involvement of families and the parole agent, cognitive behavior therapy, substance abuse treatment, drug and alcohol follow- up services, job training, job placement, education, housing assistance, problem- solving skills, anger management, psychiatric skills, antisocial peer association, counseling, medical services, and life skills counseling• Effective aftercare requires a continuum of community services to prevent the recurrence of antisocial behavior• The cost of providing such services is often a barrier in many jurisdictions – an intensive aftercare program in Pennsylvania costs between $6,000 and $7,000 for every participant• The monetary value of saving a high-risk 14-year-old from a life of crime was $2.6 to $5.3 million• On release to aftercare services, the responsibility of monitoring these youth shifts from correctional institutions to the departments of parole and probation
Incorporating Aftercare: Examples from the Boot Camp Literature• The newest generations of juvenile boot camp programs implemented aftercare components to supplement the boot camp experience of juvenile participants with the goal of increasing offender accountability and decreasing recidivism• Juvenile boot camps have generally failed to reduce recidivism, except for the boot camps followed by enhanced aftercare components• Participation in boot camp followed by quality aftercare services both reduces the overall risk of recidivism and, for those who do recidivate, lengthens the time to failure as compared to participating in boot camp followed by traditional parole• Even relatively well-developed juvenile boot camps followed by an intensive aftercare program are unlikely to reduce recidivism rates among participants if the aftercare intervention is only short term – or if aftercare provisions do not focus on individual needs or provide intensive treatment services
Challenges in Providing Aftercare Services• Numerous challenges need to be overcome, including the youth’s educational and housing needs, health care, and ensuring continuity of care from the institution to the community• Many of these challenges ultimately come down to funding and who will assume responsibility for the costs of helping youth in their transitions back to the community• Youth in rural communities might find it difficult to travel to the city to attend an appointment with a mental health professional or a physician• Other youth may fail to show up for these meetings, especially if they were not enthusiastic about receiving care in the first place• Another problem is ensuring that youth continue to take the medications that were prescribed; it may be difficult for youth to obtain medications, they may not take them according to the prescription, the youth might sell them or the parents might use their children’s medications for recreational use
Challenges in Providing Aftercare Services• Providing an appropriate residential placement once the youth is released from a facility is an issue – it is not always possible for youth to live with their parents because they are deceased, separated, divorced, incarcerated, detached, or too dysfunctional to provide a stable home setting• Youth who have unstable post incarceration placements are at higher risk of recidivism• It is imperative that secure care facilities, public schools, families, and others charged with assisting youth transition cooperate so youth will be more successful upon their return to home, school, employment and the community• Juveniles who return to the community must find ways to constructively use their leisure time by working or attending school; if the youth are spending more time with delinquents and gang members, the likelihood of recidivism increases• Integrated case management enables the youth and the case manager to establish a long-term relationship so the case manager has an understanding of the services and resources in both the community and facilities, possibly making them able to be more effective at helping the youth access these supports
Establishing a Research Agenda• Research on juvenile aftercare has been plagued by a predominance of null findings for program effect, as well as small sample sizes, implementation difficulties, and little consistency in program implementation and/or evaluation methodology• Research on recidivism often fails to establish clear findings about the effectiveness of aftercare programs• It is difficult to ensure program fidelity – that the intervention delivered is actually what the developers of the program intended• Jurisdictions may implement different aftercare models – it is important to investigate these diverse models to determine which type of aftercare programs or components of the programs are more effective in reducing recidivism• Juvenile justice systems have historically overlooked female offenders and whether aftercare is successful with them• There is also little information about the effectiveness of aftercare programs for minority youth• It is often very difficult to determine whether the differences in programs are ultimately responsible for differential outcomes based on gender or race
Conclusions• In the past 90 years, many jurisdictions still have not yet adopted comprehensive, long-term aftercare programs• In some places, aftercare exists, but most of the resources are channeled into supervision and surveillance• In order to provide quality aftercare, it is important to assure that adequate community resources and service linkages are allocated or exist within aftercare programs• Little or no consideration of developing and funding gender specific aftercare services has occurred
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