| ||Literature Coverage Dates||Number of Studies||Number of Study Participants|
|Meta-Analysis 1||1990 - 2009||22||4595|
|Meta-Analysis 2||1990 - 2009||30||6620|
|Meta-Analysis 3||1993 - 2012||10||0|
James and colleagues (2013) reviewed studies that examined the effectiveness of aftercare or reentry programs on juvenile recidivism. A comprehensive search of bibliographic databases, bibliographies of previous meta-analyses, and literature reviews was conducted. Both published and unpublished reports were included in the search. Studies were not excluded on the basis of geographic location or language.
To be eligible for inclusion, studies had to 1) use an experimental and/or quasi-experimental design; 2) evaluate reentry or aftercare interventions aimed at decreasing recidivism for juveniles; 3) incorporate a treatment modality, such as skills training, counseling, and cognitive behavior therapy; and 4) include only participants who had spent time in a form of detention when enrolled in the reentry or aftercare program that had started during or immediately after their detention. The treatment group comprised youths who had joined the aftercare or reentry program either during detention or post-release, and the control group youths were those assigned to a care-as-usual group. The care-as-usual group received services such as regular probation supervision without therapeutic treatment.
Participants included juvenile males and females of various ethnic backgrounds. The minimum age for entering the program was set at 10 years. The maximum age was set at 25 rather than 18 years. The researchers believed that juveniles do not suddenly become adults at the age of 18; instead, the process of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is an emerging one that occurs over time.
The search yielded a final sample of 22 eligible studies, 9 of which were randomized controlled studies, 6 were matched control group studies, and 7 were quasi-experimental studies. It is important to note that in addition to the inclusion of studies of youths committed to juvenile-oriented facilities, studies of young adults incarcerated in adult facilities were also considered eligible. The total number of participants across the 22 studies was 4,595, and the majority of participants were male.
The outcome of interest was recidivism. Studies were eligible if they included at least one measure of the following: 1) any new conviction/adjudication of any new crime committed after exiting a correctional facility based on official records, and 2) any new arrest after exiting the correctional facility based on official records.
The authors used a fixed-effects model to analyze the impact of juvenile aftercare on recidivism.Meta-Analysis 2
Weaver and Campbell (2015) reviewed studies to determine the treatment impact of aftercare or reentry programs for young offenders. To be eligible for inclusion in the review, studies had to
- Evaluate an aftercare or reentry program in which juvenile offenders were committed to a detention center or similar facility for a period of time, and then released to transition back into the community. Aftercare or reentry had to consist of monitoring, supervision, and various services intended to promote a successful reentry into the community.
- Include a control group. Although studies had to include a control group to be eligible for inclusion, there were no specific control conditions.
- Include participants who were committed to a youth-oriented facility or detention center prior to their transition into the community. Studies that included juveniles who were incarcerated in adult prisons or jails were excluded from the meta-analysis.
A comprehensive search of bibliographic databases, bibliographies of previous meta-analyses, and literature reviews was conducted. Both published and unpublished reports were included in the search. Studies were not excluded on the basis of geographic location or time period.
The search yielded a total of 30 studies that were eligible for inclusion, which included a total of 6,620 participants (3,114 in the treatment group and 3,506 in the control group). In contrast to the review by James and colleagues (2013), only studies that involved youths committed to juvenile-oriented facilities were eligible for inclusion. Thirteen of the studies were randomized controlled trials, and the remaining studies were quasi-experimental designs. For most studies (67 percent), the average age was greater than 16.5 years, while 30 percent of the studies had samples whose average age was less than 16.5 years (one study did not report age). With regard to ethnicity, about half of the studies (47 percent) had samples consisting of more than 70 percent ethnic minority youth, while the other half (53 percent) had samples consisting of fewer than 70 percent ethnic minority youth. Over 60 percent of the studies included only male participants, while 37 percent of the studies included male and female participants.
The outcome of interest was recidivism, which included felonies and misdemeanors and excluded status and traffic offenses. The authors used a random-effects model to analyze the impact of juvenile aftercare or reentry programs on recidivism.Meta-Analysis 3
Bouchard and Wong (2018) conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effect of aftercare or reentry programs on juvenile recidivism. Studies that were included in the review had to primarily target juveniles between the ages of 12 and 18 years. Studies had to have been published in English between January 1, 1990, and April 21, 2015. Studies also had to be rigorous or moderately rigorous control group designs (i.e., randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs) in which participants were matched on at least some variables with a minimum sample of 20 participants in both the treatment and control groups. In addition, each study had to have included at least one individual-level outcome measure of crime, and the reported outcomes had to have also provided sufficient data to permit that computation of an effect size. Finally, the program had to be delivered, at least partially, in a non-closed setting in the community (i.e., school, youth custody, hospital) in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, or a Western European country.
Conversely, studies were excluded if 1) the primary intervention was “traditional” supervision (i.e., standard probation); 2) the program studied targeted specific offenders such as perpetrators of domestic violence, those with serious mental health problems, substance users, sex offenders, and known gang members; 3) the outcomes exclusively focused on measures of substance use (tobacco, alcohol, illicit substances); or 4) there were no outcome measures for the youth who participated in the program.
There were two outcomes of interest: alleged offenses (arrests, charges, referrals, court/police contacts) and convicted offenses (convictions, sustained petitions, adjudications, incarceration). The distinction between the outcomes was meant to differentiate between alleged criminal acts and convicted criminal acts. For this CrimeSolutions.gov review, the outcome of interest was alleged offenses.
A comprehensive search of 20 electronic databases and hand-searches for grey literature was conducted. A total of 10 studies that examined the impact of reentry or aftercare programs were identified for inclusion. The 10 studies provided a total of 15 independent program sites (because some studies included more than one program), which contributed to 24 effect sizes. Of the 15 independent program sites, 13 sites looked at alleged offenses. The 13 sites included 5 randomized controlled trials, 2 quasi-experimental designs with matched comparison groups, and 6 quasi-experimental designs with weakly matched comparison groups. Six studies included only male juveniles, while 7 studies included a mix of male and female juveniles. Three studies included whites/mixed races, while 10 studies were predominately minority.
Effect sizes were calculated as odds ratios for dichotomous outcome data. Standardized mean differences were used in calculating effect sizes for continuous data, with the Cox logit transformation applied to enable commensurability with the odds ratios. A fixed-effects model was used to analyze data.