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Community-Based Service for Delinquent Youth - The Key Program, Inc. - Alternatives for Youth - An Evaluation

NCJ Number
J Katz
N Wylie, D Hulsizer, A Johnson
Date Published
109 pages
The Key Program, Inc., a nonprofit agency providing counseling and advocacy services to delinquent youth in Massachusetts, was evaluated via analysis of records on 175 of the program's clients.
Key attempts to stabilize a youth's life in the community through supervision and intensive counseling. The clients studied were involved in seven outreach and tracking programs and in two foster care programs. For different analyses, the sample was studied as a whole, by client difficulty in terms of prior criminal justice system involvement and by individual programs. Analyses included comparisons of offense frequency and seriousness, prediction of recidivism, reasons for client termination, termination results, and client stress. Of 85 clients with court involvement prior to the program, 49 percent reappeared in court in the 6 months following termination from Key, compared to 54 percent and 61 percent in studies of other programs. Clients who recidivated committed more serious and more frequent offenses than in the 6-month period before entering Key. However, Key reduced court contacts while youths participated in its programs. Only 22 percent of the variance in recidivism could be predicted from a combination of client background and program variables. Of 154 clients who terminated from the 9 programs, 34 percent were judged by counselors to be successful terminations, 41 percent to be unsuccessful terminations, and 25 percent to have terminated under neutral circumstances. Counselors felt that the group that was of middle difficulty showed the greatest mean improvement in relationships and behavior. Overall, the program was most successful with clients who had previous court involvement, primarily for property offenses, and who had extensive experience with other programs. Moreover, its influence over clients' recidivism decreased once a youth was terminated. Improved termination patterns and school support services are recommended. Tables, footnotes, a bibliography listing 23 references, and apendixes presenting offense severity rating and additional data are included.