Examining Multi-Problem Juvenile Offenders in a Diversion Program

Christopher J. Sullivan, Rutgers University
Bonita M. Veysey, Rutgers University

Juvenile justice agencies and other organizations that provide services to youth are increasingly challenged to provide comprehensive and integrated care. As research advances, it is becoming clear that justice-involved youth have multiple problems, including serious emotional disorders and substance addictions. A descriptive study examines the diagnoses, personal histories, and service needs of a group of youths involved in a diversion program in New York State (N=224). The Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Project targets and provides services for youth that have mental health and/or substance abuse problems. Based on intake and investigation records provided by project sites, analysis indicates that a significant number of juveniles have had prior contact with the juvenile justice or mental health system. Also, there is a substantial overlap of mental health problems, delinquent behavior, and substance use among youths. Implications for future research and intervention are discussed relative to these findings.

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Updated 05/20/2006