Altering Outcomes in Juvenile Offending: The Evidence Base
Background: Although United States still has the highest rate of juvenile incarceration in the world, the population
of incarcerated juvenile offenders has been falling as there has been a recognition and implementation of “best practices”
that involve alternatives to incarceration and reduce recidivism. Many of these practices are adaptations from those
that have proven effective with adult offenders.
Methods: This article will explain juvenile justice system terminology and identify common ground between the adult and
juvenile offender populations. It will discuss the concept of criminogenic risks and needs, and identify interventions that
“work” in terms of reduced recidivism and present the Risk/Need/Responsivity model currently being used in both adult
and juvenile justice systems.
Conclusions: Although there is a high rate of mental illness among juvenile offenders, factors responsible for criminal behavior
are specific to cognitive and behavioral characteristics that are shared among offenders regardless of psychiatric
status. Attention to these factors is essential for successful rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Effective evidence-based
approaches exist for juvenile offenders. These involve a range of interventions that modify criminogenic factors and behaviors.
Targeting antisocial thinking is essential.
Keywords: Juvenile, justice, mental health, criminogenic, risk, offender, treatment.
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