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Role of the Therapeutic Community 'Street Prison' in the Rehabilitation of Youthful Offenders

NCJ Number
A W Auerbach
Date Published
158 pages
The Youth Crime Control Project (YCCP) of the District of Columbia is examined with regard to effectiveness in rehabilitating youthful offenders; the study emphasizes control and experimental group differences.
The YCCP project was conceived and formulated on the basis of the theories and concepts pertaining to cognitive dissonance, differential treatment, and the therapeutic community. It is based on the random assignment of youthful offenders to two correctional modalities. The first modality (control group) followed regular practices of the department of corrections, i.e., offenders were incarcerated at the youth center, released to a halfway house, then put on parole. The second modality involved the assignment of offenders to the YCCP House located in a residential area of Washington, D.C. The experimental group for this study was composed of 100 male offenders between the ages of 18 and 22 who were sentenced under the Federal Youth Corrections Act. All were black, had I.Q.s of 75 or above, had not been convicted of either murder or rape, and had no further sentences pending. The same criteria were used for the selection of control subjects who served their sentences at the Youth Center. Study subjects were given psychological tests upon entry into their respective modalities and again upon attainment of parole. The YCCP experimental group featured a program of multistaged reentry into the community, therapeutic community team concept treatment, and group meetings. Study results indicated that recidivism rates for YCCP experimental parolees were lower than for control parolees. There was also a significantly lower incidence of crime among experimentals than among controls. It is impossible to infer with certainty that attitude changes actually took place in either group because of the small magnitude of score changes from pretest to posttest. In general, the performance of the YCCP program was sufficiently encouraging to warrant replication with some modifications. Footnotes, tables, appendixes of related data, and approximately 140 references are provided.