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Promoting Juveniles' Capacities to Successfully Complete Probation: Reforming and Evaluating Philadelphia's Juvenile Probation System

Project #: 42
Name: Goldstein, Naomi (neg23@drexel.edu; 215-571-4299)
Department: Psychology
Academic Area: Criminal Justice, Psychology

Title: Promoting Juveniles' Capacities to Successfully Complete Probation: Reforming and Evaluating Philadelphia's Juvenile Probation System

Description:
Currently, the structure of the juvenile probation system largely parallels that of the adult system. Common elements include imposition of many requirements; emphasis on long-term outcomes (i.e., probation completion); immediate attention focused on non-compliance; and little short-term reinforcement of positive behaviors, such as ongoing fulfillment of probation terms. This typical probation approach fails to recognize decades of empirical data on youths' neurological development and decision-making capacities. To address these gaps between research and practice, my lab works with leaders in Philadelphia's juvenile justice system to develop, implement, and evaluate juvenile justice reforms to make the juvenile probation system more responsive to adolescents' unique needs. The goal of our work is to enhance youths' capacities to successfully complete probation (i.e., to prevent incarceration) and to help them benefit from community-based programming. The Humanities Fellow will be centrally involved in developing and implementing reform efforts and establishing a system for program evaluation.

Associated Independent Study:
The Fellow may complete an independent study, which would involve a combination of literature review on juvenile probation, creation of an online database of community-based probation programs, and work on an existing database that is used to identify predictors of juvenile probation violation and success.

Gained Experience:
The student will learn about the structure of the juvenile probation system, adolescent development and decision-making processes, and policy implementation. The student will have opportunities to collaborate on research projects, including presentation of work at national conferences.

Outcome:
Policy and practice reform in Philadelphia juvenile probation; publications; local, national, and international presentations.

Tasks:
Creating a database of community-based probation providers to assist juvenile probation officers and judges in referring youth on probation to appropriate services; literature reviews; data management; development of training programs and program evaluation tools.

Location:
Combination of Drexel's Department of Psychology (Goldstein lab), Philadelphia Department of Probation (1801 Vine St), Youth Services Center (Juvenile Detention Center; University City).

Meetings:
Daytime hours (i.e., 9-5). Specific days and hours are negotiable.

Interview Availability: April 21, 2014; April 22, 2014