Promising - One study
Randomized Controlled Trial
Date: This profile was posted on January 04, 2018
This behavioral intervention targeted high-risk juvenile arrestees in a detention center in Chicago. The curriculum focused on correcting automatic or reactive behavior, with the goal of reducing both the probability and number of readmissions. The program is rated Promising. Participants were less likely to be readmitted and had fewer readmissions to the detention center, compared with non-participants. This difference was statistically significant.
Program Goals/Target Population
The Behavior Intervention at Cook County (Ill.) Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) focused on correcting automatic or reactive behavior among detained high-risk juveniles. Cook County JTDC is where the highest-risk juvenile arrestees in Cook County are taken after they are arrested and held until their cases are adjudicated by the juvenile courts (on average 3 to 4 weeks). The JTDC is a 500-bed facility located on the west side of Chicago and is the largest facility of its kind in the country. The goal of the program was to reduce both the probability and number of readmissions to detention among juvenile participants.
The intervention curriculum focused on reducing automatic or reactive behavior. Delivered by trained detention staff, the program focused on anger as a particularly important indicator for youths. Other important affective cues included feeling threatened, disrespected, envious, frustrated, or having a sense of loss. The program gave youths techniques on how to slow down and behave less automatically, such as through deep breathing and other relaxation techniques, when they encounter a triggering situation. The program emphasized the importance of learning to “stop, look and listen,” and had youths try to objectively assess the type of situation in which they found themselves. For example, participants were taught to try to examine high-stakes situations from an outside perspective and to distinguish between the facts apparent to any neutral observer (“What would a camera see in this situation?”) versus the meanings or intentions they were projecting onto the situation.
During the Cook County JTDC program, youths were required to carry out “thinking reports” every time their misbehavior caused detention staff to give them a “time out” (a certain amount of time alone in their cells). Additionally, they learned how to carry out “behavioral experiments” that tested their perceptions or beliefs about what type of situation they found themselves in. The program was manualized and could be delivered by college-educated individuals without specialized training in psychology or social work.
The program was based in part on the cognitive–behavioral training ideas from Maultsby (1975), which combines cognitive– behavioral theory (CBT) with self-help principles. CBT is based on the principle that thoughts affect emotions, which then influence behaviors (Development Services Group 2010). Additionally, CBT supports the idea that an offender’s cognitive deficits and criminal-thinking patterns are learned, and not inherited, behavior. Therefore, CBT interventions typically use a set of structured techniques that attempt to build cognitive skills in areas in which offenders show deficits. CBT can also restructure cognition in areas where offenders show biased or distorted thinking (National Institute of Justice 2017).
Probability of Readmission
Heller and colleagues (2015) found that youths who received the behavior intervention were 16 percent less likely to be readmitted to the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center than youths who did not receive the intervention. This difference was statistically significant.
Number of Readmissions
Youths who received the behavior intervention had fewer readmissions to the detention center than youths who did not receive the intervention. This difference was statistically significant.
Heller and colleagues (2015) conducted a randomized controlled trial at the Cook County (Ill.) Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) to determine if a cognitive intervention influenced both the probability of readmission to detention and the number of readmissions for participating youths across an 18-month follow-up period. The sample included 2,693 male residents of the Cook County JTDC from 2009–2011. Data was collected via intake forms that provided basic demographics and addresses; admissions logs, which the admissions staff used to record who enters the facility each day; and the JTDC’s housing roster, which captured the residential unit in which a youth was located on each day to measure receipt of treatment. The outcome of interest, recidivism, was measured by re-entry into the JTDC facility. Youths’ data was also linked to other arrest databases to assess this measure.
Male youths entering the facility were randomly assigned into one of four CBT residential units or to one of four “status quo” units, which did not receive any treatment. However, as there were systemic reasons that some study youths could not comply with random assignment, the JTDC staff members were allowed to disregard random assignment when necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of staff and youth residents. For example, re-admitted youths who had already been assigned to a CBT unit were generally placed in this unit again regardless of random assignment. Additionally, those who had a history of conflict with others or were physically, mentally, or emotionally immature would not be placed in the treatment group.
The average age for the treatment group (n=1,371) was 16 years. The treatment sample was 84 percent black,13 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent other race/ethnicity (participants could choose more than one race/ethnicity). Based on administrative arrest records, 30 percent of the treatment sample entered the detention center during the study directly, without an associated arrest; 18 percent entered the detention center because of an arrest for a violent crime; 9 percent for a property crime arrest; 7 percent for a drug crime arrest; and the majority (35 percent) for some other crime arrest (the remaining 1 percent of the data was missing for this item). The average age for the control group (n=1,322) was 16 years.
The control sample was 83 percent black, 14 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent other race/ethnicity (participants could choose more than one race/ethnicity). Thirty percent of the control group entered the detention center without an associated arrest, 17 percent entered the detention center because of an arrest for a violent crime, 10 percent were arrested for a property crime, and 8 percent were arrested for a drug crime.
“Spell numbers” counted how many juvenile detention admissions the youths had, up to and including the focal spell. The average number for both groups was 3 spells, and no significant differences were found between groups on any baseline characteristics. An intent-to-treat analysis was conducted using regression with a linear probability model, and an instrumental variable analysis was conducted using random assignment as an instrument for participation. No subgroup findings were conducted.
There is no cost information available for this program.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Sara B., Heller, Anuj K. Shah, Jonathan Guryan, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Harold A. Pollack. 2015. Thinking, Fast and Slow? Some Field Experiments to Reduce Crime and Dropout in Chicago
(Working Paper No. 21178). Cambridge, MA.: National Bureau of Economic Research.
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Development Services Group, Inc. 2010. “Cognitive Behavioral Treatment.” Literature review. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.https://www.ojjdp.gov/mpg/litreviews/Cognitive_Behavioral_Treatment.pdf
Heller, Sara B. Heller, Anuj K. Shah, Jonathan Guryan, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Harold A. Pollack. 2015. Online Appendix Materials For: Thinking, Fast and Slow? Some Field Experiments to Reduce Crime and Dropout in Chicago
(Working Paper No. 21178). Cambridge, MA.: National Bureau of Economic Research.
Heller, Sara B., Anuj K. Shah, Jonathan Guryan, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Harold A. Pollack. 2017. “Thinking, Fast and Slow? Some Field Experiments to Reduce Crime and Dropout in Chicago.” Quarterly Journal of Economics
Maultsby, Maxie C. 1975. Help Yourself to Happiness Through Rational Self Counseling
. New York, N.Y.: Institute for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.
National Institute of Justice. “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Moderate- and High-Risk Adult Offenders.”
CrimeSolutions.gov, accessed on November 29, 2017.https://www.crimesolutions.gov/PracticeDetails.aspx?ID=57