GSMP RELEASES GROUND-BREAKING STUDY ASSESSING 10 YEARS OF ITS JUVENILE OFFENDER DIVERSION PROGRAM

Study Shows Only 18% of JODP Participants Recidivate

Good Shepherd Mediation Program (GSMP) is pleased to release the Juvenile Offender Diversion Programs (JODP) Evaluation Report covering 2008-2017. The Report examines the demographics, changes in conflict competency, and recidivism rates of 4,023 youth who participated in JODP during those years. On January 24, 2019, senior representatives from six agencies serving juveniles gathered at GSMP to hear Shawn Flower, the Principal Researcher, Choice Research Associates in Greenbelt, MD, reveal the results of her groundbreaking study. “GSMP prides itself on providing quality conflict resolution and restorative practices services and watching the increasing severity of the delinquent acts committed by the young people referred to JODP,” says Cheryl Cutrona, Executive Director of GSMP, “I commissioned this study to be sure the JODP curricula was meeting the needs of this changing population.”

In the Executive Summary, Flower reports, “Overall these survey results indicate that participants gained knowledge on avoiding physical violence, anger control, conflict avoidance, thinking of consequences, understanding how actions affect others, and an understanding of and appreciation for participation in the program.” The results indicate that over the last ten years, the recidivism rate of the juveniles who attended the JODP restorative justice/conflict resolution education workshop was only 18% (727 of 4,038). “The findings outlined in the report will help us tweak the curricula and refine our data collection instruments, so we are better able to capture and assess meaningful data,” says Cutrona.

“It was powerful seeing so many juvenile justice stakeholders in one room. This research will help us continue to collaborate more effectively with our colleagues to improve the services we provide moving forward,” predicts Pablo Cerdera, the GSMP Youth Services and Restorative Practices Coordinator.The agencies represented at the January 24th meeting include the Philadelphia Department of Human Services Division Juvenile Justice Services, Family Court Delinquency Unit, the Office of the District Attorney, the Safe Schools Advocate of the Philadelphia School District, Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia, and the Commission on Human Relations.

GSMP, Philadelphia’s only neighborhood justice center, offers diversion programs to young people, ages 10-18, who have been arrested for a delinquent act for the first time. Youth are referred from the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney's Youth Aid Panels, judges, probation officers, the school district discipline office, and others. The types of offenses include nonviolent misdemeanors or simple felonies such as shoplifting, riding in a stolen car, simple assault, retail theft, robbery, weapon on school property, fighting in school, terroristic threats, criminal trespassing, or disorderly conduct. JODP serves an average of 400 youth each year. The young people participate in Restorative Circle where they discuss what happened and how they came to be referred to this workshop. Following the Circle, they participate in a day of communication, conflict resolution, anger management, and decision-making education. The participants complete pre- and post-workshop conflict competency assessment questionnaires and satisfaction surveys. GSMP gathers self-reported demographic data and the Office of the District Attorney tracks the participants’ recidivism date for three years (or until they turn 18; whichever occurs first) following the intervention.

Shawn M. Flower, Ph.D. is the Principal Researcher of Choice Research Associates, providing criminal justice research services that focus on issues of prisoner re-entry, female offenders, community corrections, and program evaluation which employ rigorous methodologies. Dr. Flower has worked as a Program Evaluator in the field of Criminal Justice Research since 2002 and has a solid foundation working with program administrators, direct service providers, and funding agencies. In her work, she conducts both process and outcome evaluations of a variety of programs including prisoner reentry, BJA/SAMHSA funded enhancement services project for Baltimore City District Drug Treatment Court participants, and services for at risk populations including the unemployed and public housing residents. In conducting these evaluations, Dr. Flower often employs a model of researcher-practitioner collaboration called the Program Development Evaluation (PDE) method, developed by Drs. Gary and Denise Gottfredson. Dr. Flower also provides research services and policy and strategic planning support to state, local, and national criminal justice agencies.

To access the full report, CLICK HERE.