Why

What

Who

Youth that have contact with the  justice system are less likely to graduate from high school and more like to be arrested again as an adult. As a result, they suffer worse health outcomes than their peers.

A short-term family therapy intervention helping juvenile offenders to overcome adolescent behavior problems. Therapists work with families to assess family relationships that affect delinquent behavior. The program typically consists of 12 to 14 sessions over three to five months.

Approximately 13,000 juveniles aged 10-16 who, in the past 12 months, were released to parole, put on probation, or given supervisory caution after encountering the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles County.

For a $47.9 million investment in one year covering 12,637 juveniles ($3,786 per child), the following results could be expected for the one cohort.

We use a variety of data sources to tailor our analysis to the location and to make our estimates as accurate as possible. However, sometimes data is unavailable, either because it has not been collected, or because it is not shared publicly. We encourage government agencies and other organizations to share their de-identified data online and researchers to prioritize the following gaps in the data. 

Arrest Data - Although California does release information on juvenile arrests by county, our analysis would benefit from more localized arrest data. Absent this, we use the distribution of violent criminal incidents taken from the LA Sheriff's Department as a proxy to get a distribution of where juvenile arrests occur within the county.

Marginal Cost of Juvenile Incarceration - Costs of incarceration per offender are typically reported as the total costs of the prison system divided by the total number of prisoners. However, many of these costs are fixed, hence we want to use the marginal cost of incarceration for an additional prisoner. While this has been estimated for adult prisoners in some localities, we do not have a juvenile offender estimate, so we ultimately multiplied the ratio of average juvenile incarceration costs over average adult incarceration costs by the marginal adult incarceration cost.

Substance Abuse - Unfortunately we were not able to find local substance abuse data for the eligible population, so we instead used a couple of measures to get an idea of how this measure would be affected. One was from an analysis of the rate of substance abuse among juvenile offenders from a study performed in Connecticut. The other was a measure from Texas that indicated chemical dependency rates among juvenile offenders.

We also use national costs of drug use, as well as distributions of drug users over time, to map out the returns to state and local government through Medicaid. Ideally the cost and usage measures would be for the eligible population we model the program for.