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Serious (Violent or Chronic) Juvenile Offenders: A Systematic Review of Treatment Effectiveness in Secure Corrections

NCJ Number
Vicente Garrido; Luz Anyela Morales
Date Published
46 pages

The authors’ overall objectives were to systematically collect and assess the quality of empirical research outcomes regarding the effectiveness of treatment programs implemented in secure corrections in order to decrease the recidivism rate and type of offence of chronic or violent delinquents aged 12 to 21 years.


This Campbell Systematic Review shows that treatment programs with cognitive elements reduce general recidivism, and especially reduce recidivism into serious crime. One challenge in the treatment of violent or chronic delinquents is that the majority are well into delinquent careers. It remains to be demonstrated what specific strategies provided within secure correctional facilities are promising in rehabilitating incarcerated serious juvenile offenders. To systematically collect and assess the quality of the outcomes of empirical research regarding the effectiveness of treatment programs implemented in secure corrections designed to decrease the reoffending rate and type of offense for serious (chronic or violent) delinquents, 12-21 years old. Several strategies were used to identify studies that met the explicit criteria of this review. In this document, the authors provide details about study selection criteria and research methodology. The overall results at the last follow-up for completers showed a statistically significant positive result in favor of treatment. For the intent-to-treat data, both fixed- and random-effects models were statistically significant. This result showed that even under the more conservative intent-to-treat model, the interventions were still effective overall. Moderator variables did not show statistically significant results to explain the heterogeneity in relation to effectiveness of the treatment. The authors found that in general, the programs “do work” to reduce the general and, specifically, the serious recidivism of serious institutionalized juvenile offenders. This is particularly true in the case of interventions with a cognitive or cognitive-behavioral emphasis, applied to male samples in centers of juvenile reform. It seems also that the educative non-structured programs did not work to reduce recidivism. Publisher Abstract Provided