Connecticut Project Safe Neighborhoods 2016: A Youth Opportunity Initiative

Campus Sexual Assaults

Sara R. Jeffries, M.A.
David L. Myers, Ph.D.
Anne Kringen, Ph.D.
University of New Haven

Ronald W. Schack, Ph.D.
The Charter Oak Group

Acknowledgements: Connecticut Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) was organized around a task force, consisting of agencies from both New Haven and Bridgeport, to support crime prevention and gun violence reduction efforts for at-risk youth in inner cities. The Project Safe Neighborhood initiative would not have been successful without the cooperation of the task force members and their representatives:

• Connecticut Board of Education
• Bullard-Havens Technical High School
• Connecticut Business and Industry Association
• Eli Whitney Technical High School
• Integrated Wellness Group
• New Haven Office of the Mayor
• The Charter Oak Group
• The Justice Education Center, Inc. (TJEC)
• Researchers at University of New Haven
• U.S. Attorney’s Office
• Workforce Development Board in Bridgeport
• Youth STAT Youth Services Program
• Veterans Empowering Teens Through Support (or VETTS)
• Clinical Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Staff at Fairfield University
• Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch


Note: This project was supported by Grant No. 2016-GP-BX-0012 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Introduction

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) was initiated in 2001 by the U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide, as a federally funded program designed to reduce gun and gang violence through interagency collaboration in local communities. Theoretically, the PSN model emphasizes deterrence and incapacitation through the education and warning about federal and local criminal prosecution for illegal gun possession and violent, gang, and drug-related offenses involving a firearm (Kennedy, 1997; 2009). Consistent with the literature on deterrence, this model, through certainty, swiftness, and severity of punishment, should act to deter youth from violent gun-related crime (Nagin 2013; Paternoster, 2010; Zimring 1976). As a means of achieving these goals, PSN involves the collaboration of an interagency task force including local, state and federal criminal justice agencies, together with community organizers, local service providers, and school-based programs. Ideally, these agencies will work together to communicate the model’s conceptual deterrence messages to youth and develop data-driven gun violence reduction strategies. A key component stipulated by the PSN model includes the specification of a local research partner to analyze levels of community gun violence, and together with the task force, provide a proactive plan for gun crime reduction (McGarrell et al, 2018. The research partners also are expected to provide ongoing assistance and evaluation of program effectiveness.

Since 2001, PSN has provided over $2 billion in funding of local programming, coupled with increased federal prosecution of illegal gun use and possession (McGarrell et al., 2018). Funding is used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, deter juvenile gun crime, develop and promote community outreach efforts, and support other gun crime and gang violence reduction strategies. Each of the 94 U.S. Attorney districts are eligible to apply for PSN grants, which have generated a great deal of program implementation and corresponding evaluation research. In an initial national study, McGarrell and colleagues (2010) used a quasi-experimental design with longitudinal data from 2000-2006 to compare trends in violent crime in 82 large cities that implemented PSN with 170 large cities that did not. The findings indicated PSN target cities experienced significant reductions in violent crime compared to non-PSN cities, and the results were more pronounced when PSN was implemented with the most intensity and fidelity to the core PSN principles. Evaluation of PSN in Chicago (Grunwald and Papachristos, 2017; Papachristos et al., 2007) revealed similar supportive findings, as did a variety of documented PSN case studies and local level reports (McGarrell et al, 2018).

In 2014, Connecticut initiated the state’s second PSN program (the first grant originated in 2002), to be delivered to justice involved and at-risk youth in New Haven and Bridgeport.  The results of PSN 2014 were positive and were used to help guide PSN 2016 (Jeffries, Myers, Kringen, & Schack, In Press). The primary goals of the current evaluation of PSN 2016 were to assess implementation and document outcomes achieved, as well as to produce and utilize research findings to enhance current and future PSN activities and results. To achieve these goals, researchers at University of New Haven collaborated with representatives from The Justice Education Center, Inc., and The Charter Oak Group to collect and analyze data and produce evaluation findings.

 

Description of Connecticut’s PSN Youth Model

Beginning in 2002, Connecticut’s PSN program was developed and implemented to coordinate innovative and strategic responses to reduce violent gun crime in targeted communities. This effort focuses on three areas: 

  1. Building on partnerships between federal, state, and local officials to aggressively enforce federal and state firearms laws;
  2. Fostering prevention and educational programming within school systems and community-based organizations to emphasize the deadly consequences of gun and gang violence, the need to refrain from illegal gun use, and the promotion of positive opportunities for youth and ex-offenders; and
  3. Informing adult and youthful offenders, upon their release from correctional facilities, about the risks of joining street gangs and the consequences of illegally possessing firearms. (The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Connecticut, 2017)

In 2012, as part of PSN in Connecticut, Project Longevity was created under the premise that violence can be reduced dramatically when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with known and potential offenders, while communicating a credible, moral message against violence; a credible law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence; and a genuine offer of help for those who want it. A partnership of law enforcement, social service providers, and community leaders was assembled to implement face-to-face meetings with gang members, coordinate sanctioning and service-delivery, and collect and analyze data on crime hot spots and the effectiveness of interventions.

In 2014, The Justice Education Center, Inc. received further PSN funding to implement the Connecticut Project Safe Neighborhoods Youth Opportunity Initiative (PSN Youth) in the cities of Bridgeport and New Haven. The objectives of the initiative were to:

  1. Extend the work of Project Longevity to engage juvenile offenders (age 14-17).
  2. Offer individualized and comprehensive intervention plans, designed to build on the strengths and address the challenges of each juvenile offender.
  3. Expand community outreach and education efforts to children ages 11-13, to reinforce positive attitudes and behaviors and a personal commitment to the “no gangs, no guns” philosophy.
  4. Engage experienced research partners to provide data, guide implementation, and report results.

The Connecticut PSN 2016 youth initiative extended the work of PSN 2014, with further grant funding secured by The Justice Education Center, Inc., to address violent crime and gun violence in New Haven and Bridgeport.  The focus of the grants was to enhance data-driven decision making and community engagement in areas with high rates of gun violence, particularly among youth under the age of 18 years old.      

Despite having one of the highest median household income levels in the country, some of Connecticut’s population of nearly 3,600,000 continues to face extreme poverty, particularly in two of its major cities, Bridgeport and New Haven (American Community Survey, 2017). As shown in Table 1, social and economic disparity remains high in these cities, as compared to the state and nation as a whole.  All economic indicators suggest lower levels of wealth in Bridgeport and New Haven, along with lower levels of health insurance and household availability of computers and broadband internet. Educational attainment also is lower in the two target cities, while unemployment and poverty is higher. In sum, children and youth living in Bridgeport and New Haven experience a variety of social and economic risk factors associated with delinquent and violent behavior.

Table 1: Demographic, Social, and Economic Characteristics of PSN Youth Cities (2017)

Variable

Bridgeport

New Haven

CT

US

Population

147,586

130,884

3,594,478

321,004,407

% Population Nonwhite

59.6%

57.0%

23.3%

27.0%

% Population Hispanic

39.2%

30.4%

15.4%

17.6%

% of population under 18

23.7%

22.1%

21.2%

22.9%

Households

50,341

49,987

1,361,755

118,825,921

Median Household Income

$44,841

$39,191

$73,781

$57,652

Median Family Income

$50,356

$46,671

$93,800

$70,850

Per Capita Income

$22,806

$24,688

$41,365

$31,177

Median Housing Value

$170,300

$189,400

$270,100

$193,500

% Families in Poverty

17.5%

20.4%

7.0%

10.5%

% Under 18 in Poverty

30.5%

33.6%

13.5%

20.3%

% Food Stamps

28.01%

26%

12.4%

12.6%

% No Health Insurance

16.2%

10.3%

6.4%

10.5%

% Computer Households

83.4%

80.2%

88.2%

87.2%

% Broadband Households

74.6%

71.1%

82.1%

78.1%

Population 25 Years Old+

94,935

81,047

2,480,297

216,271,644

% High School Graduates

75.6%

84.6%

90.2%

87.3%

% College Graduates

18.1%

33.9%

38.4%

30.9%

Population 16 Years Old+

116,323

105,046

2,928,091

255,797,692

% Unemployed

13.8%

10.4%

7.2%

6.6%

Note: Data obtained from the American Community Survey, 2017 (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/)

 

Connecticut’s juvenile offender population is divided into youth supervised by juvenile probation, which is handled by the Judicial Branch’s Court Support Services Division (CSSD), and youth in placement or on aftercare supervision under the umbrella of the Department of Children & Families (DCF). In recent decades, Connecticut’s juvenile justice system has experienced significant reform, resulting in dramatic reductions in juvenile commitments to secure facilities, increased use of diversionary programs, and declines in recidivism (Ma et al, 2018). Moreover, in recent years, greater attention has been given to the behavioral health needs of youth, truancy reduction, the school-to-prison pipeline, data collection, youth tracking systems, and community-based services.

Despite these positive trends, available data suggest some troubling juvenile crime indicators in Connecticut, particularly for certain cities. To begin, Sickmund and Puzzanchera’s (2014) comprehensive analysis of juvenile justice data revealed Connecticut to be above national averages in the proportion of high school students reporting they carried a weapon to school, used alcohol on school property, used marijuana on school property, and were offered, sold, or given illegal drugs on school property. In addition, Connecticut’s juvenile violent crime arrest rates were near the national average, although juvenile property crime arrest rates were noticeably lower. As shown in Table 2, Connecticut data from 2014 indicate the rate of arrest for juveniles in New Haven and Bridgeport was approximately 3.0 to 4.6 times higher than the rest of the state. Finally, Connecticut Juvenile Court Data from 2014 are summarized in Table 3. These figures suggest the cities of New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport stood out, at the time PSN Youth was initiated, in terms of petitioned and non-petitioned delinquency cases, as well as non-petitioned status offenses (Hockenberry et al., 2018). It should be noted that the City of Hartford originally was to be part of PSN Youth, but due to failing to meet early requirements for implementation, was not included in the funded program.

Table 2:  Juvenile Arrests, ages 13-17, 2014

Variable

Bridgeport

New Haven

 Balance of State

 State of CT

Juvenile Arrests for Violent Crimes

77

41

396

599

Juvenile Arrest Rate per 100,000

For Violent Crime

654

434

143

173

Ratio to Balance of State

4.6

3.0

1.0

1.2

 

Note: Data obtained from the Connecticut Department of Public Safety

(https://www.dpsdata.ct.gov/dps/ucr/ucr.aspx)

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Table 3: Connecticut Juvenile Court Cases, 2014

 

City

Petitioned Delinquency Cases

Non-Petitioned Delinquency Cases

Petitioned Status Offenses

Non-petitioned Status Offenses

Bridgeport

772

581

102

540

Danbury

152

243

8

232

Hartford

1,073

695

5

503

Middletown

332

251

22

243

New Britain

444

481

*

432

New Haven

1.339

503

*

389

Rockville

342

264

*

158

Stamford

246

227

5

189

Torrington

191

203

*

125

Waterbury

860

393

8

257

Waterford

377

373

8

304

Willimantic

264

206

5

198

Total

6,392

4,400

176

3,570

Note: Adapted from Hockenberry et al., 2018.

* less than five offenses

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Program Design and Implementation

 

Connecticut’s PSN 2016 program model initially focused on Call-In referrals from probation and police departments, and occasionally other agencies like the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and school principals and counselors. The Call-In process was designed to 1) emphasize deterrence and 2) provide opportunities for services within the community.   These initial referrals were structured to accept 42 youth for intensive services.  Intensive services entailed program staff conducting an assessment, identifying needed services, and developing an individualized service plan. The primary needed service was typically Career Pathways (22 slots were allotted for vocational training), with other needed services including summer school, referrals to Youth Stat, VETTS (18 slots were allotted for this therapy), EMDR, case management, resume writing, job shadowing, and credit recovery. 

Early in the 2014 PSN program, the definition of “justice involved” was revised to include “at-risk” youth who were distinguished through school attendance records, suspensions/expulsions, and class reading proficiency.  As such, the primary referral source changed from probation to school-based. Connecticut’s PSN 2016 initiative continued to focus on the idea that increasing federal prosecution of gun offenders will reduce gun crime through incapacitation and deterrence of potential offenders.

 

Description of Youth Call-In Sessions  

PSN Coordinators, with the help of local probation offices, school teams, and the YouthSTAT initiative in New Haven, work to engage youthful offenders, youth who are at-risk of offending, and/or youth who are victims or at-risk of becoming victims of crime. Once identified, youth are invited to voluntary Call-In meetings with their parents. Call-Ins take place at a local courthouse, a school, or a program location. These meetings are held with the following representatives in attendance: a federal prosecutor, a local prosecutor, the PSN coordinator, and local community members who have alternatives to offer to youth. At most Call-Ins, a local police officer and a community member who was once a gang member are also present to speak with the youth.

 

Figure A: Call-In Session Goals

The sessions begin with youth hearing from federal and state prosecutors. The PSN Coordinator opens the session and then turns it over to the prosecutors, who discuss what can happen to the youth if they commit (or are with people who commit) crimes involving guns or drugs. Prosecutors are followed by a police officer who offers positive messages, and a community member who implores youth not to make the same mistakes he made.  Youth are also able to hear from community members, social services, and therapists who have many different opportunities available. These opportunities range from vocational training programs, mentorship, job prospects, mental health programs, and other services. 

After all speakers complete their discussions, youth are encouraged to ask questions for prosecutors, community outreach members, and anyone else that has attended the session. A form is sent around to all youth to share with the PSN Coordinator what program they are interested in attending or trying. Immediate access is available for youth at the Call-In sessions. All youth receive a follow-up meeting (either by phone or in person) to determine the best opportunities for them individually. Not all youth who attend a Call-In will receive personalized services following the Call-In.

 

Youth Assessment 

Upon identification of youth as a PSN participant, he or she is referred to the Integrated Wellness Group for a Post-Secondary Success (PSS) Screener.  A member of the Integrated Wellness Group then completes the PSS Screener with the youth and updates a spreadsheet with the score the youth received. For each participant, the Integrated Wellness Group also completes a CASAS assessment and provides the results to the PSN team.  Additionally, four members of The Justice Education Center (TJEC) team were trained in January 2016 on the PSS Screener and on CASAS administration. Starting in February 2016, TJEC staff administered all PSS and educational testing.

 

Career Pathways Technology Collaborative

In collaboration with Youth Stat, New Haven and Eli Whitney Technical High Schools have continued with the program they introduced in the 2014 PSN Initiative that provides various levels of support to ensure motivated students are offered technical skills, training, and academic tutoring to achieve success. Services include education in essential reading, writing and math skills; training in the fields of Carpentry/Weatherization, Plumbing, Manufacturing and Culinary Arts; and certifications for OSHA-10, CPR/First Aid, ServSafe, ECHO (Empathy, Character, Hope, and Opportunity) Personal Growth, and Youth Employment Skills.

 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

The 2016 PSN Youth Opportunity Initiative expanded the number of services available to participants to include trauma-focused EMDR Therapy.  This service is intended to help build resilience through an evidence-based trauma treatment with 9 sessions of EMDR psychotherapy. The first 3 sessions focus on building resources for at-risk youth and consist of: engaging the adolescent and building rapport; teaching calm place, container exercise, aroma exercise, grounding exercise, breathing exercises, and other resourcing skills with the therapist using motivational interviewing techniques. After this, the participants will receive 6 individual sessions of EMDR therapy processing sessions. The specific EMDR protocol to be used for the 6 processing psychotherapy sessions is the Reverse Protocol.  Reverse Protocol is future oriented and does not focus on processing past events but on processing concerns about the future.  In this model, the adolescent moves from day-to-day survival to identifying goals for the future (Adler-Tapia & Settle, 2012).  Researchers have found this particularly appropriate for at-risk adolescents because these children function in survival mode with a foreshortened future; have few emotional regulation skills; and many suffer from attachment trauma, complex PTSD, and personality disorders.

 

Summer Academy

In partnership with YouthStat and Career Pathways, PSN 2016 was able to offer 45 participants the opportunity to be involved in the Summer Academy program at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.  The primary objective of the Summer Academy is to provide youth entering grades 9 – 12 the chance to earn extra credits in English, Algebra, Geometry, Financial Math, Life Math and additional educational and career training skills and certifications.  Teachers, mentors, paraprofessionals and street-outreach team members worked with participants to advance their educational goals, while at the same time providing youth with breakfast, lunch and weekly fields trips. The Summer Academy helped to advance the overall goals of the PSN 2016 Initiative. 

 

Veterans Empowering Teens Through Support (or VETTS)

In addition to the EDMR therapy program, the 2016 PSN Youth Opportunity Initiative added the Veterans Empowering Teens Through Support (or VETTS) program to the continuum of services available to participants. VETTS is intended for youth whose level of functioning may put them at risk of entering the juvenile justice system or for youth that are currently justice involved. The key component of the VETTS program involves matching an at-risk youth with a U.S. Military-trained, honorably discharged Veteran, who serves as a committed positive role model. This role model offers support, guidance, strength, and reassurance. In addition, they encourage youth to explore recreational activities, career options, home and life skills, and his or her emerging identity.  Staff are required to undergo clinical training program and are in constant contact with youth throughout the week, at any time.  VETTS program has identified internal outcome goals that align with those of the 2016 PSN program including: improved school and career attitudes, reduced health-related concerns and increased pro-social life skills.

 

Youth STAT

Youth Stat is a school-based intervention program that seeks to reduce justice involvement and improve health and wellness outcomes of students from elementary to post-secondary education.  The goal is to develop school engagement and academic performance among program-involved youth.  Youth Stat identifies youth and connects them to a network of services that are specifically targeted to their individual needs, which is inclusive of but not limited to: tutoring, academic support, gang intervention, mental health assessment and treatment, and employment matching and placement. Youth Stat services are limited to PSN participants in the New Haven school district and are not offered to youth in the Bridgeport region.

 

Evaluation Methods 

Data were collected through meeting records, comprehensive assessments, advocate activity, records obtained from service providers, and direct observation of Call-In sessions.  Additionally, official criminal behavior data for New Haven and Bridgeport youth were attained for analysis. The primary focus of this evaluation included the tracking of activities as described in prior sections and subsequent quantitative analysis of outcomes.  Time and resource constraints did not allow for a randomized control group or comparison of similar youth who did not receive PSN services.

Our data are limited to those youth who were enrolled initially in the PSN programming in either New Haven or Bridgeport and received services between 2016 and 2018.  We utilized data obtained from the following sources:  Observation of Call-In sessions and task force meetings, TJEC participant records, TJEC documents (training, call-in process), records from the VETTS program, EMDR Therapy from Fairfield University, Public School Records from SDE, and CSSD matching records on arrest data. 

 

Data Analysis 

The target population included youth between the ages of 14 and 17 years old, with the average age of participants at the start of the program being between 16 and 17 (mean = 16.51) years old. Other descriptive statistics appear below. 

 

Table 4: Participant Characteristics

Descriptive

Total Youth

Bridgeport

New Haven

Gender

Male

Female

 

99 (68%)

 

37 (67%)

 

62 (69%)

46 (32%)

18 (33%)

28 (31%)

Race

Black

White

92 (63%)

 

29 (53%)

 

63 (70%)

30 (21%)

22 (40%)

8 (9%)

 

Ethnicity

Hispanic

Non-Hispanic

 

 

56 (39%)

 

 

29 (53%)

 

 

27 (30%)

83 (57%)

20 (37%)

63 (70%)

 

Total Participants

 

145 (100%)

55 (38%)

 

90 (62%)

 

Call-In Session Participation

 

96 (66%)

 

32 (58%)

64 (71%)

Initial Interview Participation

131 (90%)

42 (76%)

89 (99%)

 _____________________________________________________________________________

 

In addition to the primary services provided to participants of the PSN Initiative, many youth participated in secondary services, like Career Pathways, VETTS mentoring, or completing the summer program. Table 5 provides summary data on these services.

 

Table 5: Additional Services

 

Career Pathways

New Haven

46 (50.5%)

Bridgeport

20 (37%)

Total

66 (45.5%)

 

Summer Program

45 (49.5%)

0 (0%)

45 (31.0%

 

VETTS

10 (11.0%)

17 (31.5%)

27 (18.6%)

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Youth Outcomes

For this evaluation, we identified five primary dichotomous (yes, no) outcome measures: Justice involvement since enrollment; Arrest 6 months post enrollment; Arrest 12 months post enrollment; Readjudicated 6 months post enrollment; and Readjudicated 12 months post enrollment.    We also obtained a measure of youth who were justice involved prior to enrollment in the PSN Youth Initiative Program.  As shown in Table 6, prior justice involvement was higher for New Haven PSN participants than those in Bridgeport.   

 

Table 6: PSN Participant Outcomes (n=145)

Outcomes

Total Youth

Bridgeport

New Haven

Justice Involvement Prior to Enrollment

29 (20.0%)

6 (10.9%)

23 (25.6%)

Justice Involvement Since Enrollment

11 (7.6%)

3 (5.5%)

8 (8.9%)

Rearrested within 6 months

7 (4.8%)

0 (0.0%)

7 (7.8%)

Readjudicated within 6 months

2 (1.4%)

0 (0.0%)

2 (2.2%)

Rearrested within 12 months

10 (6.9%)

2 (3.6%)

8 (8.9%)

Readjudicated within 12 months

5 (3.4%)

1 (1.8%)

4 (4.4%)

 

One hundred and forty-five (145) youth initially were recruited to take part in a PSN 2016 intervention designed to warn about the dangers of violent crime and gun possession, and provide subsequent services. On enrollment, 29 participants (20%) had justice involvement prior to enrolling in the program. Following the PSN intervention, the total number of youth with justice involvement since enrollment decreased to 11 participants (7.6%). A McNemar's test determined that the difference in the proportion of justice involved youth pre- and post-intervention was statistically significant (p < .01).  Further analysis revealed that the Bridgeport site decrease was not found to be statistically significant (p = .375) However, the New Haven site did show a statistically significant difference in pre- and post-intervention justice involvement (p < .01). Although these figures do not control for time at risk in the pre- and post-intervention periods (as well as other possible confounding factors), they suggest that participating youth benefited from the PSN 2016 intervention. In addition, arrest and adjudication figures in the 6 and 12-month time periods are relatively low, considering PSN youth typically are higher risk and need than the Connecticut youth population.

 

Table 7: PSN Participant Outcomes for Youth with Prior Justice Involvement (n=29)

Outcomes

Total Youth (n=29)

Bridgeport (n=6)

New Haven (n=23)

Justice Involvement Since Enrollment

9 (31.0%)

2 (33.3%)

7 (30.4%)

Rearrested within 6 months

6 (20.7%)

0 (0.0%)

6 (26.1%)

Readjudicated within 6 months

1 (3.4%)

0 (0.0%)

1 (4.3%)

Rearrested within 12 months

8 (27.6%)

1 (16.7%)

7 (30.4%)

Readjudicated within 12 months

4 (13.8%)

1 (16.7%)

3 (13.0%)

 

 

 

 

 

Of those 29 participants with prior justice involvement, there were 9 youth (31%) with justice involvement following enrollment; 2 (33%) in Bridgeport and 7 (30%) in New Haven.   Six (21%) were arrested within 6 months of enrollment, and 1 (3%) was readjudicated within 6 months.   Eight (28%) were arrested within 12 months, and 4 (14%) were readjudicated within 12 months.  Overall, the rates for New Haven participants were higher than Bridgeport across all data points.

 

Summary and Conclusions 

The Connecticut Project Safe Neighborhood Youth Opportunity Initiative targeted 145 youth in Bridgeport and New Haven beginning in October 2016.  Of the approximately 145 youth that participated in some manner through September 2018, 66 were enrolled in Career Pathways, a program that provided educational remediation and vocational training after school at Vocational Technical High Schools in Bridgeport and New Haven, and 45 youth were enrolled in the New Haven Summer program. In addition, 27 youth also received VETT mentoring services.

As additional indicators of PSN 2016 success, of the 145 youth that received services:

  • 88 (60.7%) received credits toward graduation
  • 66 (45.5%) received work certifications
  • 27 (18.6%) graduated from HS (many were not yet ready to graduate)

Furthermore, of the 66 that received Career Pathways services,

  • 57 (86.3%) successfully completed the program
  • 60 (90.1%) received credits toward graduation
  • 43 (65.1%) received work certifications

Finally, of the 45 youth enrolled in the New Haven Summer programming:

  • 28 (62.2%) received credits toward graduation
  • 45 (100.0%) competed summer programming
  • 23 (51.1%) received work certifications

Given the multiple risk factors often experienced by PSN youth, these accomplishments are important and likely will assist youth in completing high school degree requirements and set them on vocationally oriented post-secondary career path. In addition, 6-month rearrest rates (20.7%) for those youth with prior justice involvement were encouraging and lower than the 6 month rearrest rates for all youth referred to juvenile court in the state of CT in 2016 (31.1%; The Charter Oak Group, 2017).  The 12 month rearrest rate for these youth (27.6%) was also substantially lower than the overall rearrest rate for all CT youth referred to juvenile court in 2016.  Given that PSN youth often experience multiple risk factors and present high needs, this rearrest rate is encouraging.  Six and 12-month readjudication rates for PSN youth (3.4% and 13.8% respectively) are also encouraging.

EMDR services proved difficult to deliver under this program model. It was particularly difficult to convince parents and youth to participate and to sustain participation.  While EMDR still holds promise as an important intervention for youth with various kinds of trauma, different delivery approaches need to be considered and tested. In addition, a small number of youth participants utilized VETT mentoring services.  As with EMDR, the VETT mentoring approach also holds promise and should be further tested.

While federal funding for Connecticut PSN youth initiative has ended, the partners involved in the PSN project plan to continue offering the array of services for justice involved and at risk youth.   The City of New Haven continues to fund the career pathways programs after hours at Eli Whitney Technical High School, Hillhouse High School, and the New Haven Summer Youth Program, while the Bridgeport Workforce Development Board continues to fund Career Pathways for in and out of school youth.  There is continued cooperation between the Connecticut Judicial Branch, Court Support Services Division, and Justice Education Center, Inc., to ensure that justice-involved youth are referred to this programming.

Given the overall success of this program in providing educational and vocational support to youth, and in reducing offending following enrollment, this model of integrating call-ins, support services, and educational and vocational programming across an array of community partners should be considered as part of the toolkit for reducing youth justice involvement and youth violence.

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Papachristos, A. V., Meares, T. L., & Fagan, J. (2007). Attention Felons: Evaluating Project Safe Neighborhoods in Chicago. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies4(2), pp 223-272.

Paternoster, R. (2010). How Much Do We Know About Criminal Deterrence? Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 100(3), pp 765–823.

Sickmund, M., and Puzzanchera, C. (2014). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.

The Charter Oak Group. (2017). Connecticut Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee: Population and System Metrics Report. Glastonbury, CT: The Charter Oak Group.

The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Connecticut. (2017, October 31). Project Safe Neighborhoods. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/usao-ct/project-safe-neighborhoods.

Zimring, F. E. (1976). Deterrence: The Legal Threat in Crime Control. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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