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What Works: A Vision for Florida's Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2005
4 pages
This paper describes Florida's "What Works Strategy" for reducing juvenile crime.
The five principles of the strategy are to target offenders who are most at risk; to treat needs associated with re-offending behavior; to use evidence-based treatment approaches; to tailor programs to the response capabilities of offenders; and to monitor implementation quality and treatment fidelity. The strategy uses program models, treatment techniques, and management tools that research has demonstrated to be effective in reducing criminal behavior (evidence-based programming). In addition to supplanting ineffective treatment programs with proven treatment techniques, Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is testing new management techniques that set program standards and guidelines that help providers assess and modify existing programs to make them more effective. The Correctional Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI) is being piloted as a measure of how well a program has incorporated the What Works Strategy into its model for treatment. The CPAI allows a program to be assessed during a 2-3 day site visit, which identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a program by the criteria of effective intervention. The CPAI has been proven to correlate with recidivism rates. Technical assistance is then provided to assist in modifying models, improving service delivery, helping workers set goals and direction, and improve community support. DJJ is also implementing a new risk/needs assessment tool called the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT), an instrument that has been validated in other sites as highly predictive of future offending. PACT is used to classify youth according to their risk of re-offending.