Delinquent behavior and juvenile justice are critical social issues in the United States. Juvenile delinquency can lead to significant consequences such as incarceration, drug use, lack of education, and injury. Many programs have been established across the country for early intervention and prevention purposes to divert juveniles from criminal environments and consequences. This report will examine the Adolescent Diversion Project as part of a community effort to juvenile delinquency treatment in Michigan.
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What is the name of the program you are assessing? Where is the program located?
The selected program for assessment is the Adolescent Diversion Project (ADP). It is done through Michigan State University and is located in East Lansing, Michigan. The program is advocacy-oriented, attempting to divert juveniles from formal processing into community services.
The focus of the program is to prevent future delinquency by creating social attachments to family and other prosocial youth by providing community resources and keeping individuals away from the juvenile justice system which can have stigmatizing and traumatizing outcomes. The program was established in 1976 through collaboration between Michigan State University and the local Ingham County Juvenile System. It is considered to be one of the best and most well-established juvenile programs in the country (National Institute of Justice, 2013).
Have there been any studies completed on the effectiveness of the program you are reviewing for the assignment? What were the results of these studies? If no studies were done, would this have been informative?
A large-scale study was conducted in 2004 by a multi-facility team from different universities and a national organization that specifically focused on ADP. It was a randomized control trial that examined 395 youth who were referred to the program to determine how effective the ecological programming approach was in preventing delinquency. The study demonstrated that ADP was slightly more effective and showed less official recidivism of juvenile delinquency than a “warn and release” attempt or processing in the juvenile justice system. It was also found that while processing and any other means of socially labeling youth as delinquent led to increased criminal behavior. Meanwhile, a greater awareness of youth activities and integration into the community without creating labels helped to greatly reduce delinquent behavior (Smith, Wolf, Cantillon, Thomas, & Davidson, 2004).
What (if any) positive impact is the program providing for the community and the delinquents?
The primary positive impact that the program has on the community is experiencing lower rates of juvenile delinquency and a better interconnection among its members and institutions. The delinquents are benefited as they are provided with resources, psychological guidance, positive socialization, role models, and supervision to obtain stability in their lives. Caseworkers which consist of university professors and student volunteers work individually with delinquents to help build relationships, deal with school issues, and achieve employment among other individually tailored services. Together, members of the program often participate in community engagement such as service and volunteering that further aids the local area (Office of Justice Programs, 2017).
Will the program help curb juvenile delinquency? Why?
The program has been functioning for over 40 years and has demonstrated statistically significant reductions in juvenile delinquency and re-offenders. Self-reported delinquency reduction is much lower, but noteworthy, nevertheless. Such success can be attributed to a comprehensive approach that combines psychological guidance, social integration, service, and community outreach. Delinquents feel much more established within their families and the communities as well as various aspects of their lives such as school or work.
What are the negative aspects of the program you reviewed?
The negative aspects of the program can be attributed to the short amount of time that delinquents participate in it. It lasts only 18 weeks at only about 6-8 hours per week. Past the 12th week, the active phase is over, which leads to the very limited time that caseworkers spend with the delinquent (National Institute of Justice, 2013). Also, while the program is targeted towards community outreach and pro-social activities, it has little variation and may encounter issues with delinquents that do not respond well to measures.
Give specific suggestions for improving the program
The best improvements would be to extend the length of the program to ensure that juveniles feel more established and integrated into the community. Furthermore, it would be recommended to introduce options for more anti-social or introverted delinquents. While some psychological guidance is provided, it may be viable to establish a therapy program to help manage traumatic experiences that the youth have witnessed while in criminal or court environments. Additionally, it may be helpful to establish check-in programs after the program ends to ensure juveniles are maintaining a good-standing status.
Juvenile delinquency is a serious issue that needs to be effectively addressed as traditional punitive systems often have a negative effect. Rehabilitation and treatment programs such as the Adolescent Diversion Project focus on social and community integration while guiding various aspects of the juvenile’s lives. The program has existed for decades and has experienced great success in reducing delinquency rates.
National Institute of Justice. (2013). Program profile: Adolescent Diversion Project (Michigan State University). Web.
Office of Justice Programs. (2017). Diversion from formal juvenile court processing. Web.
Smith, E. P., Wolf, A. M., Cantillon, D. M., Thomas, O., & Davidson, W. S. (2004). The Adolescent Diversion Project. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 27(2), 29–47. Web.