Fifteen Lessons Learned From the National Process Evauation of the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Offenders

Sanjeev Sridharan, WESTAT
Heidi Zinzow, Caliber Associates
Aracelis Gray, Caliber Associates
Ellen Go, Caliber Associates
Meredith Mackay, Caliber Associates

ABSTRACT
1. BACKGROUND TO COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY

The Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Violent Offenders, published by OJJDP in 1993, provides a research-based framework for combating juvenile crime by targeting prevention efforts on youth who are at risk of delinquent behavior, by intervening in early delinquent behavior, and by responding effectively to youth who become involved in serious, violent, and chronic offenses. The Comprehensive Strategy's principal components-risk-focused delinquency prevention and graduated sanctions-are intended to provide a "continuum of care" that both prevents and interrupts the progression of delinquent and criminal careers. The Comprehensive Strategy achieves this goal through a systematic community-level and research-based planning approach to crime and delinquency reduction.

As emphasized by both its designers and trainers, the Comprehensive Strategy provides a framework, with an implicit systematic process, for a community to diagnose and address its local juvenile problems. Comprehensive Strategy reflects the process of communities adopting, planning for, and "implementing" the framework for addressing their juvenile problems.

The Comprehensive Strategy planning process involves several interrelated and ongoing steps: 1) mobilize the community, its key leaders and other stakeholders and familiarize them with the goals, principles, and elements of the Comprehensive Strategy; 2) conduct community assessments (of risk factors, existing systems and resources, etc.); 3) develop strategic plans that identify appropriate services, programs, and approaches to address the community's identified needs; 4) specify mechanisms to coordinate and implement them; and 5) implement the plans, with ongoing monitoring of their program-specific and overall effectiveness at reducing risk factors and juvenile problem behaviors. By undertaking and institutionalizing this process-mobilize, assess, plan, and implement-communities adopt the Comprehensive Strategy framework.

In May 1995, OJJDP published the Guide to Implementing the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Violent Offenders, which lays out the framework and the supporting research. In early 1996, three communities, Lee and Duval Counties in Florida and San Diego County in California, were selected as pilot sites for the Comprehensive Strategy. Later in that year, OJJDP selected five States (Florida, Iowa, Rhode Island, Texas, and Maryland) to participate in a training and technical assistance (TA) initiative to assist six local communities in each State in "developing a strategic plan for preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency." In early 1998, three additional States (Ohio, Wisconsin, and Oregon) were added to the roster of States selected to receive training and technical assistance. Ohio joined the first five States to receive an intensive package of training and TA provided through Developmental Research Programs (DRP) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD). Wisconsin and Oregon were to receive preliminary assistance from another TA provider, Community Research Associates (CRA), prior to receiving the more intensive series of training events from DRP and NCCD. In addition to these eight States, a number of other States, including Kansas, Colorado, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Missouri, also have initiatives that embrace some or all of the elements of the Comprehensive Strategy, undertaken without training and technical support from OJJDP.

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Updated 05/20/2006