Juvinile sex offenders in harris county

It should be noted, however, that these studies have been conducted by program developers and are based on samples that are relatively small in size.

Independent evaluations that employ larger sample sizes should be undertaken to further establish the effectiveness and transportability of MST with juveniles who sexually offend. Recent research on other treatment approaches has also produced positive results. While it is difficult to isolate treatment effects and identify the specific treatment approaches that are most effective, interventions that address multiple spheres of juveniles' lives and that incorporate cognitive-behavioral techniques along with group therapy and family therapy appear to be most promising.

Juvenile Sex Offenders: A Case Against the Legal and Clinical Status Quo

However, there is a clear need for more high-quality research that can better demonstrate the effectiveness of various treatment approaches delivered in the community as well as in secure settings. Studies that employ random assignment or equivalent treatment and comparison group conditions—achieved through matching or statistical controls—are greatly needed. One of the most frequently cited studies of the effectiveness of juvenile treatment was conducted by Reitzel and Carbonell Their meta-analysis included 9 studies and a combined sample of 2, juvenile subjects, making it one of the largest studies of treatment effectiveness for juveniles who sexually offend undertaken to date.

Two of the studies in the analysis employed random assignment. The treatment approaches most often were based on cognitive-behavioral and relapse-prevention techniques, although other approaches such as sexual trauma therapy and psychosocial education were also represented in the analysis.


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Based on an average followup period of nearly 5 years, the researchers found an average sexual recidivism rate of 7. By comparison, the average sexual recidivism rate for comparison group members was Further, the researchers reported that every study in the analysis yielded a positive treatment effect. Overall, an average weighted effect size of 0.

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Interestingly, two of the four strongest treatment effects found in the meta-analysis were from studies of MST treatment. In addition, Reitzel and Carbonell did not find that studies of cognitive-behavioral treatment had stronger treatment effects than studies of noncognitive-behavioral approaches. However, the researchers speculated that a number of confounding factors may have influenced this finding, including difficulties associated with categorizing studies based on their treatment approach.

In discussing the overall findings from their analysis, Reitzel and Carbonell , p. It is encouraging that results supported previous findings Another meta-analysis that found positive treatment effects was conducted by Winokur and colleagues The analysis is important because it employed a protocol that assessed the methodological quality of potentially relevant research and excluded studies that did not reach a sufficient standard of scientific rigor.

Overall, seven rigorous recidivism studies were included in the meta-analysis—one RCT and six studies that matched treatment and comparison subjects on relevant demographic and criminal history characteristics. Of the seven studies in the analysis, three examined treatment delivered in a community-based outpatient setting, three examined treatment delivered in a residential setting, and one examined treatment delivered in a correctional setting.

In all seven studies, treatment involved some type of cognitive-behavioral approach. The average followup time across the seven studies was 6 years. The researchers found that adolescents who completed sexual offender treatment had significantly lower recidivism rates than untreated adolescents. Positive treatment effects were found for sexual recidivism, 10 nonsexual violent recidivism, 11 nonsexual nonviolent recidivism, 12 and any recidivism. By comparison, sexual recidivism rates for untreated comparison group subjects ranged from 5 to 18 percent. Nonsexual recidivism rates ranged from 10 to 36 percent for treated subjects compared to 10 to 75 percent for untreated subjects.

Based on their findings, Winokur and his colleagues , pp. According to the results, there is a small to moderate positive effect of treatment on the recidivism rates of JSO. Specifically, juveniles who complete a cognitive-behavioral treatment program are less likely to commit a sexual or nonsexual re-offense than are juveniles who do not receive treatment, receive an alternative treatment, or do not complete treatment The sparse results from the subgroup analyses indicate that cognitive-behavioral treatment is effective in both community and residential settings.

Other recent meta-analyses have also found positive treatment effects. Walker and colleagues , for example, conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies involving a combined sample of study subjects. The researchers found that treatments for male adolescent sexual offenders, particularly cognitive-behavioral approaches, were effective.

Walker and his colleagues reported a treatment effect size of 0. More recently, St. Amand, Bard, and Silovsky reviewed 11 studies that examined the outcomes of treatments provided to children ages 3—12 with sexual behavior problems. The researchers found that both sexual-behavior-focused and trauma-focused interventions were effective at reducing sexual behavior problems among this population.

In terms of important practice elements, St. Amand and her colleagues found that parenting management skills were particularly important in reducing sexual behavior problems in children. Finally, Drake, Aos, and Miller conducted a meta-analysis of five rigorous studies of sex offender treatment programs for youth as part of a larger study on evidence-based public policy options to reduce crime and criminal justice system costs.

The researchers found that sex offender treatment programs for juveniles reduced recidivism, on average, by 9. In summary, a handful of systematic reviews employing meta-analysis have examined the effectiveness of treatment for juveniles who commit sexual offenses in recent years. While there is widespread agreement among researchers that the evidence is far from definitive, these studies have consistently found that sex offender treatment works, particularly MST and cognitive-behavioral treatment approaches.


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Cost-benefit analysis also demonstrates that sex offender treatment programs for youth can provide a positive return on taxpayer investment. While MST has been shown to be effective, single studies and meta-analyses on other treatment approaches have also produced positive results. Given the prevalence of sexual offending by juveniles, therapeutic interventions for juveniles who sexually offend have become a staple of sex offender management practice in jurisdictions across the country.

Indeed, the number of treatment programs for juveniles who commit sexual offenses has increased over the past 30 years, and the nature of treatment itself has changed as the developmental and behavioral differences between juvenile and adult sexual offenders have become better understood. Yet, despite the growth and widespread use of treatment with juveniles who sexually offend, uncertainty about the effectiveness of treatment in reducing recidivism is not uncommon.

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While inconsistent research findings and the fact that few high-quality studies of treatment effectiveness have been undertaken to date have contributed to the uncertainty, both the pattern of research findings and quality of the evidence have been changing in recent years. This review examined the recent evidence on the effectiveness of treatment for juveniles who commit sexual offenses.

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While there is widespread agreement among researchers that the knowledge base is far from complete, the weight of the evidence from both individual studies and synthesis research conducted during the past 10 years suggests that therapeutic interventions for juveniles who sexually offend can and do work. The program is located in Barre, Massachusetts, and it provides individualized, trauma-sensitive treatment services for preteens as well as adolescents.

Rigorous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of MST in reducing the recidivism of juveniles who commit sexual offenses. Recent research—both single studies and meta-analyses—on other treatment approaches has also produced positive results. For example, Worling, Littlejohn, and Bookalam found that the juveniles who participated in a community-based treatment program had significantly better outcomes than comparison group members on several measures of recidivism.

Based on a year followup period, adolescents who participated in specialized treatment were significantly less likely than comparison group subjects to receive subsequent charges for sexual 9 percent compared to 21 percent , violent nonsexual 22 percent compared to 39 percent , or any 38 percent compared to 57 percent new offense.

How minor offenses feed major overcrowding at Houston youth jail | The Texas Tribune

The researchers also found that only a minority Waite and colleagues found that incarcerated juveniles who received intensive treatment in a self-contained housing unit of the correctional facility had better recidivism outcomes than incarcerated juveniles who received less intensive treatment and who remained in the facility's general population. Also, meta-analyses conducted by Reitzel and Carbonell , Winokur and colleagues , and Drake, Aos, and Miller all found positive treatment effects. Juveniles who sexually offend are clearly quite diverse in terms of their offending behaviors and future public safety risk.

Hence, therapeutic interventions that are designed specifically for adolescents and children with sexual behavior problems are clearly needed. Moreover, treatment approaches that are developmentally appropriate; that take motivational and behavioral diversity into account; and that focus on family, peer, and other contextual correlates of sexually abusive behavior in youth, rather than focusing on individual psychological deficits alone, are likely to be most effective.

While the knowledge base regarding the effectiveness of treatment for juveniles who sexually offend is both expanding and improving, significant knowledge gaps remain. The need for more high-quality studies on treatment effectiveness has long been a theme in the literature, and both RCTs and well-designed quasi-experiments that examine treatment effects using equivalent treatment and comparison groups are greatly needed.

Sound RCTs can provide the most trustworthy evidence about treatment effectiveness, but as Cook points out, they "are only sufficient for unbiased causal knowledge when" a correct random assignment procedure is chosen and properly implemented, "there is not differential attrition from the study across the groups being compared," and "there is minimal contamination of the intervention details from one group to another.

Following their study of treatment effectiveness for adults in California—one of the few treatment studies to employ a randomized design—Marques and colleagues emphasized the importance of including appropriate comparison groups in future treatment outcome studies, and they urged researchers who assess the effects of treatment "to control for prior risk by using an appropriate actuarial measure for both treatment and comparison groups.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses that are based on the most rigorous studies, incorporate statistical tests to discover potential bias, and explore how methodological and contextual variations impact treatment effects are well-equipped to provide policymakers and practitioners with highly trustworthy evidence about what works. Future research should also attempt to build a stronger evidence base on the types of treatments that work.

Policy Recommendation

Empirical evidence that specifies which types of treatment work or do not work, for whom, and in which situations, is important for both policy and practice. The need for high-quality studies that help identify offender- and situation-specific treatment approaches that work was acknowledged by the national experts who participated in the SOMAPI forum.


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Trustworthy evidence on the treatment modalities and elements that are effective with juveniles who have committed sexual offenses was also identified as a pressing need. Modeled on laboratory experiments, RCTs have several key features, most notably the use of random assignment. In random assignment, the researcher randomly decides which study subjects participate in treatment and which do not.

The random assignment of subjects creates the optimal study conditions for comparing treated and untreated subjects and making causal inferences about the impact of the intervention. Sometimes statistical techniques are employed retrospectively to create equivalence between the treated and comparison subjects. Based on the assessment, studies of substandard quality are typically excluded from the analysis. In addition, studies that are included in the analysis may be weighted based on their relative scientific rigor. There are several methods used to calculate effect sizes, as described in Lipsey and Wilson The mean-difference effect size is common when outcomes are continuously measured; the odds-ratio effect size is common when outcomes are measured dichotomously.

Beech, A. Borduin, C. Multisystemic treatment of adolescent sexual offenders. A randomized clinical trial of multisystemic therapy with juvenile sexual offenders: Effects on youth social ecology and criminal activity. Consult Clinical Psychology, 77, 26— Cook, T.