This study assessed the impact of training school compared to alternative program placements for 266 youths remanded to the Texas Youth Commission in 1983.
Of the 266 youths, 101 spent their entire pre-parole period in alternative programs, and 137 spent their pre-parole period in institutional programs. Also included were 28 juveniles who spent a majority of their sentence (75 percent or more) in one program setting. The study was quasi-experimental because it statistically adjusted for program selection factors. Recidivism was measured over 12 years. A proportional-hazards model was used to predict time until recidivism as a function of individual characteristics, criminal history, family environment, program placement, and delinquency risk. Being male, of younger age at the time of commitment, and in an institutional program prior to parole were found to increase significantly the risk of recidivism. Although program experience did not affect the overall incidence of recidivism, it did affect the timing of subsequent criminal acts. Youth placed in alternative programs had significantly longer survival time until recidivism compared to youth who had been in institutions. In addition, these effects were greatest for the youngest offenders. An important benefit of alternative programs may be to lengthen a window of opportunity for additional rehabilitative efforts and interventions during parole. 8 tables, 3 figures, 8 notes, and 58 references
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