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Review of Research and Literature Addressing Evidence-Based and Promising Practices for Gang-Affiliated and Violent Youth in Juvenile Institutions and Detention Centers

NCJ Number
Barbara Whitback
Date Published
October 2010
76 pages
Findings are presented from a review of research and relevant literature that addresses evidence-based and promising practices for managing gang-affiliated and violent youth in juvenile institutions and detention centers.
The study found that the two primary categories of evidence-based practices that positively impact gang-involved and violent youth in the juvenile justice system are cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) programs and family-focused treatment programs (FTP)). CBT programs include, but are not limited to aggression replacement training, dialectical behavior therapy, and moral reconation therapy. FTP programs include, but are not limited to, family-integrated transitions, functional family therapy, and multisystemic therapy. Research has also established the value of some other programs and practices for serious juvenile offenders, including substance abuse treatment programs, mental health treatment programs, and mentoring programs. In addition, current literature highlights a variety of promising practices for gang-affiliated and violent youth in juvenile justice settings. "Promising practices" are not considered evidence-based practices for juvenile offenders, either because they have not been rigorously evaluated or because they have been rigorously evaluated and designated as evidence-based practices for populations other than juvenile offenders. Promising practices include, but are not limited to, multiple services programs, substance abuse treatment programs, mentoring programs, academic and employment programs, and staff training programs. This study also found that even the most- and best-researched and most highly regarded practices for juvenile justice settings will fail if certain factors are not present at the program site. These factors are accurate needs assessment, culturally competent practices, fidelity in implementation, developmentally appropriate practice, and a focus on reentry. Adequate and consistent funding is also required for sustained program effectiveness. The review includes a focus on opportunities for improvement in juvenile rehabilitation administration. 15 tables and 114 references