Building and Enhancing Criminal Justice Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships

Principal Investigator: 
Sarah Cusworth Walker, Ph.D.
Funding Source: 
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Project Period: 
1/01/2013-12/31/2014 (2 years)
PBHJP Project Faculty and Staff: 
Project Summary: 

A fundamental assumption of therapeutic interventions is that the positive results of these interventions are due to changes in attitudes, beliefs and skills. Often, however, studies only measure one or the other (skills or attitudes vs. outcomes); and when both are measured, it is uncommon to find a direct test of this pathway. While it could be argued that the mechanisms of change are interesting but not as important as actual outcomes, this logic in particular falls apart for corrections in which progress towards therapeutic change can be critical for making decisions about release.  This research highlights the current interest, albeit current lack of knowledge, about how youth characteristics interact with treatment processes to affect outcomes for incarcerated youth in the general population. 
The proposed study, Therapeutic Change, Length of Stay and Recidivism in Incarcerated Juvenile Offenders, is a joint venture of the University of Washington and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) aimed at capitalizing on the extensive data resources and therapeutic milieu of JRA to investigate this relationship more thoroughly. Since 2001, JRA has implemented a Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) treatment program termed the Integrated Treatment Model. The residential treatment model used in institutions and community facilities focuses on engaging youth in a supportive therapeutic relationship, while motivating them to replace problem behaviors with pro-social behaviors to meet their needs and pursue their goals. As JRA must find ways to cut costs while retaining effective services, information regarding the most therapeutically and cost effective strategies to reduce reoffending risk while maintaining high quality care is an immediate need.
This research was identified as a top priority for JRA in response to the National Institute of Justice solicitation for Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships. The recent policy of JRA to release youth at their minimum date unless serious risk is identified is a departure from previous policy in which youth were released at their maximum unless they demonstrated good behavior. Consequently, JRA is interested in looking how this policy affects community risk by examining the length of stay required to maximize therapeutic gains.  Accordingly, this research will examine institutional and community outcomes for youth, including recidivism, following recent JRA policy changes regarding length of stay.  The study will examine whether length of stay is related to skill acquisition, and how both length of stay and skill acquisition relate to recidivism post-release.

Juvenile Justice