This study evaluated the parole re-entry program Lifeskills'95 to determine the initial success of high-risk youthful offenders released from secure facilities.
Lifeskills'95 is an interactive aftercare treatment program designed to assist chronic, high-risk juvenile offenders in their initial efforts at community reintegration. The program is designed to treat the improperly socialized offender by using a series of lifestyle and life-skill treatment modalities in a well-integrated educational approach to healthy decision making. Weekly meetings with the parolees encourage positive life skills and promote self-confidence while building a foundation for increased self-esteem. Participants are exposed to a series of lifestyle choices designed to restore ownership of "self," together with a positive decision making process geared toward success. Counseling specific to substance abuse awareness is also a major part of the life skills approach. Issues probed by the evaluation were whether the program was associated with lowered rates of parole failure at any time during the community reintegration process, whether the program had any significant effect in reducing the parolee's need for dependence on alcohol and/or illicit drugs, the connection between improved employment skills and parole success, and whether the program improved social behavior and taught basic living skills. The study collected and analyzed data on experimental and control groups of California Youth Authority offenders released to parole in 1995 (n=115). The program was successful in several areas of parole performance, especially in reducing recidivism rates during the period of program participation. This study is relevant to the rethinking of the role of juvenile justice agencies in the United States. The long-term goal is to alter the traditional way in which juvenile offender aftercare and community reintegration have been designed and managed in this country. 2 figures, 4 tables, and 66 references