The Impact of Service Referral and Engagement on Juvenile Recidivism [2020]

Most recent FBI crime statistics indicate that 508,863 youth under the age of 18 were arrested by law enforcement agencies in the U.S.. Youth who have been arrested at least once are more likely to be arrested again; yet, most justice-involved youth are not provided with appropriate referrals to social services and treatment. This study examines the impact of referral to and engagement in a voluntary diversion program on recidivism outcomes after a first-time arrest for a serious offense (N = 266; ages 10‐17; 82% male; 86% nonwhite). Youth who were referred to services, but did not actively participate in services, were less likely to be re-arrested within 3 months compared to youth who were not referred to services. Interventions aimed at improving outcomes among justice-involved youth should focus on integrating social services with law enforcement and carefully consider barriers to engagement that can prevent the initiation of necessary services.

Joanna Kubik & Paul Boxer
Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 22 Jul 2020