Only a few dozen of 800 programs that aim to combat juvenile crime are backed by scientific evidence or show promise, says Delbert Elliott of the University of Colorado. Elliott, who runs a “blueprints” program that evaluates anticrime programs according to strict research standards, spoke yesterday to the American Society of Criminology on “evidence-based” criminal justice efforts. Elliott and other speakers agreed that there is no firm consensus on exactly what “evidence based” means.
Some programs actually do harm rather than good, Elliott said, citing “scared straight” and “shock probation” programs that try to shock delinquents into stopping their crime-prone ways. Two panelists who run juvenile justice systems, Donald DeVore of Maryland and Vincent Schiraldi from Washington, D.C., endorsed the idea of basing juvenile rehabilitation on proven techniques such as multi-systemic therapy, functional family therapy and aggression replacement training.