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What Youths Say Matters

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2013
6 pages

This brief report discusses the impact that youths' experiences while in residential programs have on reducing rates of recidivism.


This brief report outlines the results of PbS (Performance-based Standards) surveys examining youths' experiences while in residential programs. The surveys are conducted twice a year, in April and October, and ask youths, their families, and facility staff members about conditions, safety, services, staff-youth relationships, contact with family, contact with lawyers, and reentry preparedness while the youth are in the residential programs. The surveys have found that youth perceiving a generally more positive experience are less likely to continue offending. In addition, the surveys indicate that feeling safe reduces the probability the youth will become involved with the system and engage in antisocial behavior by about 6 percent, that rating the facility as more fair reduces the probability of becoming involved with the system by 7 percent and antisocial behavior by 15 percent, and that facility climate, harshness, and antisocial peers significantly impact youth who self-report continued offending. As a result of these findings, strategic reforms were implemented at PbS facilities. These reforms have led to changes in facility practices, and improved outcomes and perceptions for youths, as noted in the 2013 survey results. These results revealed that a majority of youth reported that living conditions at the facilities were good, a majority of youth (80 percent) and staff (78 percent) did not fear for their safety, youth felt that family contact was important but difficult for many families, that staff generally treated youth fairly about discipline issues, and that a significant portion of youth had a treatment plan, attended school, and received medical care. Figures