This study used data from juvenile offenders in Texas to examine the impact of drug treatment performance and program impact on recidivism.
The juvenile offenders were all participants in the Texas Youth Commission’s Chemical Dependency Treatment Program. The analysis examined demographic, risk, needs, and youth program performance for 332 juvenile offenders who entered treatment at any of the program’s 5 sites from January through October 1998 and were discharged into parole or to a nonsecure facility by April 1, 1999. The analysis also collected information from Texas Youth Commission administrators about specific sites’ organizational and management characteristics, as well as potential issues bearing on program operations. The dependent variable was rearrest for all types of misdemeanor offenses other than technical violations, as well as felony offenses, and included separate analyses for drug law offenses, violent offenses, and property offenses. Results revealed that more than half the treatment group youths were rearrested within 2 years of release. Release status and demographic and risk factors did not predict recidivism. In contrast, treatment performance had a modest impact in that youths who performed better in treatment were somewhat less likely to recidivate during the postrelease period of observation. In addition, youths at Sites 1 and 4 had substantially lower rates of recidivism than did youths at Sites 2 and 3. The analysis concluded that once appropriate youths (e.g., high need and high risk) were selected for treatment, individual characteristics mattered less than organizational and site-specific factors in reducing recidivism. Findings also indicated that assessments of various rehabilitative interventions accounted for how well youths participated in and completed treatment and how these interventions were implemented and operated on a day-to-day basis. Tables, appended treatment exit assessment instrument, and 42 references (Author abstract modified)