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Program Profile: California’s Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - More than one study No Effects - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on February 12, 2014

Program Summary

An intensive program targeting young offenders at high risk of becoming chronic delinquents using intensive supervision and wraparound services to address school behavior, substance use, and high-risk behaviors. The program is rated No Effects. The control and treatment group showed no statistically significant differences for warrants and days in custody, new offenses or education outcomes.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
California’s Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) is a multimodal early intervention program targeting young offenders at high risk of becoming chronic delinquents. Originally developed by the Orange County (Calif.) Probation Department in the early 1990s, the program features a combination of intensive supervision and wraparound services. (It is also sometimes referred to as the 8% Solution, because of its emphasis on the small percentage of youth most likely to become serious repeat offenders.)

To qualify for ROPP, juveniles must be first-time offenders, no older than 15½, and exhibit at least three of the following risk factors:
  • School behavior and performance problems (attendance, suspension/expulsion, failure of two or more classes)
  • Family problems (poor supervision/control, history of domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, family members with criminal backgrounds)
  • Substance abuse problems (regular use of alcohol or drugs)
  • High-risk behaviors (stealing, chronic runaway, gang membership)
Between 1994 and 2000 the State of California implemented multiyear ROPP demonstration projects in eight California counties: Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Solano. At each site, probation officers identified cases that were appropriate for the program and referred them to a youth and family resource center. At the centers, agencies collaborated as a team to assess a youth’s need and devise a case planning strategy. The collaborative partners offered an array of enhanced services such as individual and group counseling, mental health services, tutoring, transportation, and vocational training.

Program Activities
There were slight variations in the service delivery models used at each site. Some ROPP counties implemented a centralized model in which participants received all services at a “one-stop center.” Others pursued a more decentralized approach, relying on conventional referral networks or a network of regional service hubs. However, all the sites adhered to the same basic program model—relying on a multidisciplinary intervention team to provide enhanced case management and integrated services to all participating youths and their families.

In San Diego County, serious offenders who are gang-involved are transferred to the Gang Suppression Unit, which provides intensive supervision for documented gang members and emphasizes a high level of community control through proactive enforcement of conditions of probation, using searches, drug tests, and law enforcement surveillance. Aftercare services provided by community agencies and through natural family supports are gradually phased in for all clients as program completion approaches, by linking community and family services into the case management plan. Employing a “wraparound” approach to service delivery (a strengths-based, family-centered approach that seeks a balance between formal services and natural supports that continue to support the family when formal services are no longer needed) helps create an environment in which clients are less dependent on ROPP, so transition away from ROPP is made easier.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Probation Violations and New Offenses
The treatment group was found to have significantly more petitions filed for probation violations than the control group, which is interpreted by Howard and colleagues (2002) as an indication of greater levels of supervision. In terms of petitions for new offenses, the Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) group showed no statistically significant differences compared to the control group at the final follow-up. In terms of the type of offenses being petitioned, the ROPP group had proportionally less felonies than the control group, a similar level of misdemeanors, and significantly more probation violations.

Warrants and Days in Custody
There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in terms of percentage of the sample on warrant status at the final follow-up. Although figures show ROPP participants tended to be incarcerated more at follow-up points and spend more time in custody, there were no statistically significant differences between the ROPP and control groups in terms of days spent in custody.

Education Outcomes
There were no statistically significant differences between the GPA scores of the ROPP and control groups at the final follow-up. Additionally, there were no statistically significant differences in terms of number of classes passed or in terms of number of classes failed between the ROPP and the control groups at the final 24-month follow-up.

Study 2
Probation Violations and New Offenses
Zhang and Zhang (2005) found that the ROPP group and the comparison group showed no statistically significant differences at any measurement period in terms of petitions filed for violations of probation. Additionally, in terms of the petitions filed for new offenses, there were no statistically significant differences between the ROPP and comparison groups at the final follow-up.

Education Outcomes
The ROPP group attended statistically significantly more school days in the past 6 months than the control group at all follow-up periods. However, in terms of classes passed, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups at the final follow-up. Finally, in terms of GPA there were no statistically significant differences between the groups at the final follow-up.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
The Howard and colleagues study (2002) is an evaluation of California’s Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) as implemented by the San Diego County Probation Department. During the period between May 1997 and December 2001, a true experiment took place randomly assigning 196 cases to ROPP and 171 cases to a control condition which consisted of regular probation. First-time wards who were under 15 ½ years of age were referred for eligibility screening described above (based on residency and presenting with at least one of the identified risk factors). The ROPP sample was 52 percent Hispanic, 31 percent black, 9 percent white, 8 percent Asian and 1 percent other ethnicity. The control group was 42 percent Hispanic, 34 percent black, 11 percent white, 12 percent Asian and 2 percent other ethnicities.

Both groups being compared were youth at high risk of reoffending and displayed numerous risk factors. At intake it was noted that both groups experienced significant stress (ROPP 95 percent and control 98 percent), criminal family influences (ROPP 70 percent and control 64 percent) and family violence (ROPP 72 percent and control 67 percent). Eighty-eight percent of ROPP and 87 percent of the comparison group were enrolled in school at intake, although most experienced attendance problems (ROPP 68 percent and control 70 percent). The two groups’ criminal histories were also quite similar with 64 percent of both groups having a felony offense charge filed against them prior to intake.

The data collected included demographic characteristics, offending patterns, risk factors, school performance, and protective factors for the youth in both groups with 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-month reassessments. Additionally, a process evaluation was performed that included interviews with staff, surveys of the service providers, and interviews with families and clients, although these will not be examined in depth in this review. Inferential statistical tests conducted on the collected data include Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Chi-Square tests.

Study 2
The Zhang and Zhang 2005 study is an evaluation of ROPP as implemented by Los Angeles County as part of a 3-year pilot project, from 1999 to 2001. The study is a randomized experiment, with the participants including youth who are under 15 ½ years of age, who are first-time wards of the juvenile court, and who present with problems in at least three high-risk behaviors (school behavior and performance, family problems, substance use, and predelinquent behaviors). A total of 327 first-time juvenile probationers were randomized with 165 assigned to ROPP and 162 assigned to a comparison condition of regular probation. The study does not employ an intent-to-treat analysis; it examines only the differences between the groups in terms of probation term completers, which are 106 ROPP participants, and 98 comparison group participants. This means that the results presented by the study are not conservative estimates, and may overstate programmatic effects. The analysis sample was 79.2 percent male for the ROPP group and 81.6 percent male for the control group. Of the ROPP participants, 57.5 percent were black and 42.5 percent were Hispanic, compared to 62.5 percent black and 37.8 percent Hispanic for the control group.

The study conducted a process evaluation on how the program was implemented as well as an outcome evaluation. The outcomes being examined were school performance (measured by attendance and academic performance in terms of classes passed and GPA), as well as recidivism outcomes, which were measured by examining the petitions for probation violation or for new offenses. Analyses were conducted to establish significance based on mean differences.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Howard, Lisbeth, Gina Misch, Cynthia Burke, and Susan Pennell. 2002. San Diego County Probation Department’s Repeat Offender Prevention Program Final Evaluation Report. San Diego, Calif.: San Diego Association of Governments.

Study 2
Zhang, Sheldon X., and Lening Zhang. 2005. “An Experimental Study of the Los Angeles County Repeat Offender Program: Its Implementation and Evaluation.” Criminology and Public Policy, 4(2):205–236.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Ja, Davis Y., Nancy Yalon, Mary Gee, Megan Oser, Jerry Lawler, Candice Yee, Christina Chin, Julie Curry, Lisa Rodriguez, Matt Meyer, Kim Morris, Emily Fleischman, and Eduardo Morales. 2003. The Repeat Offenders Prevention Project (ROPP) of the City/County of San Francisco: A Final Evaluation Report. San Francisco, Calif.: Davis Y. Ja and Associates, Inc. (This study was reviewed but did not meet the criteria for inclusion on

Board of Corrections. 2002. Repeat Offender Prevention Program: Final Report to the Legilature. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
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Program Snapshot

Age: 8 - 16

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Probation/Parole Services, Truancy Prevention, Wraparound/Case Management, Violence Prevention

Targeted Population: First Time Offenders, Truants/Dropouts, Young Offenders, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide