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Program Profile: Philadelphia (Penn.) Intensive Aftercare Probation Program

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on September 05, 2017

Program Summary

This program was an intensive alternative reintegration program for high-risk male juveniles who were being released to probation from a juvenile corrections facility. The program is rated Promising. Results showed that while there were no differences between the treatment and comparison groups on the percent who had been re-arrested during the 9-month follow up, the treatment group had a statistically significantly lower number of re-arrests than the comparison group.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Philadelphia (Penn.) Juvenile Probation Department's Intensive Aftercare Probation Program (IAP) was developed as an intensive reintegration approach for adjudicated youths transitioning from state juvenile corrections facilities back into the community. The goal was to better address the needs of the most serious, violent, and habitual segment of the state's delinquent population who were at the time inadequately served. This was in part due to the extremely large caseloads of the supervising probation officers (which resulted in low levels of contact with juveniles in both the institution and the community) and a lack of specialized resources and services in the community. The program was designed as a supplement rather than an alternative to institutional placement.
 
Target Population
The target population for this intervention was high-risk male juveniles from the Bensalem Youth Development Center (YDC). To be eligible for the IAP Program, juveniles at the YDC had to have at least one prior adjudication for aggravated assault, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, arson, robbery, or a felony-level narcotics offense.
 
Program Components
IAP provided intensive supervision and case management to youths incarcerated for serious offenses at the YDC, both during and after their period of incarceration. Specifically, IAP officers were restricted to a caseload of no more than 12 juveniles, in contrast to the traditional aftercare caseload in the county of 70 to 100 cases.
In addition to increased supervision by IAP officers, the program focused on treatment. Key program components included individual case planning that incorporated a family and community perspective, as well as the use of incentives and graduated sanctions to encourage compliance.
 
Key Personnel
The IAP officers, who maintained significantly reduced caseloads, were required to adhere to supervision guidelines that outlined a minimum number of in-person interviews and mandated availability to conduct interviews and meetings outside of normal business hours to facilitate family engagement.
 
Program Theory
Intensive probation programs are based on the idea that if probation officers are assigned a small number of cases, they have enough time to establish personal relationships with juveniles, broker appropriate social services, and monitor juveniles’ behavior, which could then improve juveniles’ chances of remaining crime-free (Sontheimer and Goodstein 1993).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Percent Rearrested
Sontheimer and Goodstein (1999) found no statistically significant difference between the Philadelphia Intensive Aftercare Probation (IAP) Program treatment group and the control group in the percentage of juveniles re-arrested by the 9-month follow-up period. 
 
Frequency of Rearrests
However, the IAP treatment group participants had fewer rearrests over the follow-up period (M = 1.02), compared with those in the control group (M = 2.07). This was a statistically significant difference.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Sontheimer and Goodstein (1999) used a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of the Philadelphia Intensive Aftercare Probation (IAP) Program on recidivism. The full study population was drawn from Philadelphia Family Court records of youths confined in the Youth Development Center (YDC) in October 1988. The study population included male youths who were adjudicated to the Bensalem YDC by the Philadelphia Family Court and had at least one prior adjudication for aggravated assault, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, arson, robbery, and/or felony-level narcotics, or at least two prior burglary adjudications. Of the 150 youths at the YDC, 106 met eligibility criteria for the study. The researchers randomly assigned 53 youths to the treatment group and 53 to the control group. Following substantial attrition (due to youths’ absconding or release), the researchers subsequently added 42 participants who were adjudicated to the YDC between November 1988 and May 1989. The final sample sizes were 44 and 46 for the treatment and control groups, respectively. 
 
The average age of the treatment group was 17 years, and their racial/ethnic breakdown was 82 percent African American, 5 percent white, and 14 percent other racial groups. The control group also had an average age of 17 years and had a racial/ethnic demographic of 80 percent African American, 11 percent white, and 9 percent other racial groups. Group differences on 11 variables were examined, including race; age at placement; age at first arrest; number of prior arrests, convictions, and incarcerations; most serious prior offense; most serious committing offense; drug and alcohol problem index; family instability index; institutional problem index; length of institutional stay; and age at release from placement. The only statistically significant difference between the groups was on school problems: the treatment group had slightly higher scores on the School Problem Index than the control group. 
 
Recidivism was defined as re-arrest for misdemeanors or felony offenses. The follow-up period varied as outcomes were tracked from the youth’s release from the facility until May 4, 1990. Chi-square analysis and t-tests were used to assess differences between the treatment and control groups on each measure. The study authors noted significant variation in follow-up times between the treatment and control groups that could have biased the recidivism results. No subgroup analysis was conducted.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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A comprehensive process evaluation provided information on the quality of program implementation. Findings showed that the participants in the Philadelphia Intensive Aftercare Probation (IAP) Program and their families received, on average, more contact (both face-to-face and phone) with probation officers than did those in the control group. IAP officers could carry a caseload of no more than 12 youths at one time, significantly fewer than the 70 to120 client average. However, the probation officers did not reach the mandated minimum number of contacts in the first 3 months after juveniles were released from the Youth Development Center. A program compliance audit by the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission in August 1989, however, found that the number of contacts probation officers made met the guidelines when instances of contact attempted, but not actually made, were included.  

The implementation evaluation also revealed the IAP officers lacked guidance on how to structure additional time with clients. Program planners did not communicate with the officers on how they were expected to use the extra contact time with the youth or provide strategies for how to handle noncompliant and/or relapsing youth. Early on, meetings with clients and their families were structured the same way they had been prior to implementation of the program and simply occurred more frequently.
 
One major challenge to implementation fidelity— staff turnover—came about 5 months into the IAP program when the judge was reassigned and both the original IAP supervisor and all IAP officers subsequently left the unit. A new supervisor and new officers were hired within 2 months, and the original judge resumed working with the IAP youth as needed. This 2-month transition period was a disruption, however, and significant training was required to restart the program (Goodstein and Sontheimer 1997).
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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
Sontheimer, Henry, and Lynne Goodstein. 1993. “Evaluation of Juvenile Intensive Aftercare Probation: Aftercare versus System Response Effects.” Justice Quarterly 10(2):197–227.

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Additional References

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

Goodstein, Lynne, and Henry Sontheimer. 1997. “The Implementation of an Intensive Aftercare Program for Serious Juvenile Offenders: A Case Study.” Criminal Justice and Behavior 24(3):332–59.

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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Juvenile Aftercare Programs
This practice consists of reintegrative programs and services designed to prepare juvenile offenders, who were placed out of their homes, for reentry into the community. The overall goal of aftercare programs is to reduce the recidivism rate of detained juvenile offenders. The practice is rated Promising. There was a significant decrease in the recidivism rates of juveniles who participated in the aftercare programs, compared with juveniles in the control group.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 16 - 18

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Probation/Parole Services, Wraparound/Case Management

Targeted Population: Young Offenders, Prisoners, High Risk Offenders

Current Program Status: Not Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center