Most children who enter group probation homes in Los Angeles County remain in lives of crime and drugs years later, says a new Rand Corporation study. The bleak findings indicate a need to revamp the county’s juvenile justice programs and increase funding, says the report published in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers began tracking nearly 450 youths who entered group homes in 1999 and 2000. The final survey, taken in 2007, located 395 of the original participants and found that 66 percent said they had done something illegal, other than using alcohol or drugs, in the previous year.
Thirty-seven percent reported being arrested within the previous year, and 25 percent had been in jail or prison every day for the previous 90 days. Among those who had spent at least one day free in the community in the previous 90 days, 29 percent said they had recently driven under the influence, and 26 percent said they had committed simple assaults. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported recent hard drug use. “Perhaps the most startling findingm [was that] 12 of the 395 respondents were dead when we went looking for them, most of them due to gunshot wounds,” said study author Rajeev Ramchand.