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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Formal, Post-Adjudication Juvenile Probation Services

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
9 pages

Based on a literature review, this paper discusses the features and effectiveness of three types of juvenile probation: traditional probation, intensive supervision programs, and school-based probation.


"Traditional probation" places youth on informal/voluntary or formal/court-ordered supervision. It typically sets rules for the probationers that are intended to limit risky behaviors related to their offenses. Probationer behaviors are monitored through regular contact visits with probation officers. Evaluations of the effectiveness of traditional juvenile probation have not been encouraging. They have noted that the limited monitoring of probationers by overworked probation officers has little influence on juvenile probationers' behavior, particularly juveniles with a history of problem behaviors. "Intensive supervision programs" differ from traditional probation in providing for smaller caseloads that allow more frequent contacts between probation officers and their clients, as well as more strict responses to probation violations. In addition, intensive supervision typically includes the delivery of a wide range of services that address probationer needs identified by an assessment procedure. The evaluation literature on intensive probation supervision is mixed and inconclusive; however, there is some evidence that this type of probation delivered with treatment services has reduced recidivism. "School-based probation" involves a partnership between juvenile probation departments and local schools. Probation officers are located within the school, so as to increase the frequency of contact between probation officers and their clients. Probationers who engage in school-related problem behaviors are immediately referred to their probation officers. Although no comprehensive evaluation has been completed on school-based probation, preliminary evidence suggests it has a positive impact on school attendance, school conduct, and recidivism. 22 references