The Effect of Intensive Probation on Juvenile and Adolescent Intensive Offenders

This evaluation of the pilot project "Rubikon" (initiated by the probation services of Munich District Court I), assesses the implementation and results of an intensive probation program for juvenile and adolescent offenders who require additional supervision while on probation or parole. The evaluation places particular emphasis on conditions and factors that may improve the likelihood of criminal desistance among this group.

Re­search Top­ics:

The idea that in­tens­ive ju­ven­ile and ad­oles­cent of­fend­ers who are on pa­role or pro­ba­tion need closer su­per­vi­sion has long been a top­ic of con­tro­ver­sial dis­cus­sion, both in crim­in­o­lo­gic­al and pub­lic dis­courses. In­deed, in­terest in the top­ic first emerged in the 1970s, when the find­ings of the Phil­adelphia Co­hort Study re­vealed a con­cen­tra­tion of crim­in­al activ­ity in a small group of in­tens­ive of­fend­ers. The Phil­adelphia Co­hort Study found, that ap­prox­im­ately 60% of the known of­fenses that oc­curred with­in a giv­en co­hort could be at­trib­uted to a small group of ap­prox­im­ately 5-10% of the in­di­vidu­als in the co­hort. Moreover, un­like oth­er ju­ven­ile and ad­oles­cent of­fend­ers whose crim­in­al ap­pear­ance in the stat­ist­ics is mostly of a tran­si­ent nature, this small group of in­tens­ive of­fend­ers is marked by per­man­ent de­lin­quency and, usu­ally, a very dif­fi­cult series of life cir­cum­stances. Of these in­tens­ive of­fend­ers, ju­ven­iles and ad­oles­cents are con­sidered to be a par­tic­u­larly high-risk group, which is why pre­vent­ive ef­forts have con­cen­trated on them in the past. One in­ter­na­tion­ally re­cog­nized start­ing point to as­sist in­tens­ive ju­ven­ile and ad­oles­cent of­fend­ers is their in­tens­ive su­per­vi­sion dur­ing pro­ba­tion and pa­role.

The "Ru­bikon" pi­lot pro­ject was ini­ti­ated in 2010 by the pro­ba­tion ser­vices of the Mu­nich Dis­trict Court I. Its goal was to pre­vent re­cidiv­ism among in­tens­ive ju­ven­ile and ad­oles­cent of­fend­ers through the es­tab­lish­ment of stable so­cial net­works. In or­der to en­sure the in­tens­ive su­per­vi­sion and care of this spe­cif­ic group, four of the Court’s pro­ba­tion of­ficers were re­lieved of half of their reg­u­lar case­loads, with each pro­ba­tion of­ficer be­ing sub­sequently as­signed to five in­tens­ive of­fend­ers. This in­tens­ive su­per­vi­sion con­sisted of mul­tiple weekly meet­ings with each of the of­fend­ers, coupled with as­sist­ance con­cern­ing ques­tions of edu­ca­tion, ac­com­mod­a­tion, and ther­apy. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing sci­entif­ic re­search is be­ing car­ried out on be­half of the Bav­ari­an State Min­istry of Justice and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

The cur­rent study seeks to provide an ex­tens­ive eval­u­ation of the pro­ject, in­clud­ing its prac­tic­al im­ple­ment­a­tion and res­ults.

Re­search Ob­ject­ives:

Over the course of the eval­u­at­ive study, the fol­low­ing ques­tions will be answered:

  • Which cat­egor­ies of in­tens­ive of­fend­ers were in­cluded in the pro­ject?
  • What were the cri­ter­ia used to de­term­ine their par­ti­cip­a­tion?
  • What meas­ures were made avail­able to in­tens­ive of­fend­ers who were not in­cluded in the pro­ject?
  • What spe­cif­ic meas­ures were un­der­taken in the pro­ject?
  • How fre­quently (and why) were these meas­ures mod­i­fied or aban­doned?
  • Could changes to the so­cial skills and at­ti­tudes of par­ti­cip­at­ing of­fend­ers be seen?
  • How did those of­fi­cials in­volved in the pro­ject (in­clud­ing the pro­ba­tion of­ficers them­selves as well as ju­ven­ile court judges, ju­ven­ile court leg­al as­sist­ants, law­yers, po­lice of­ficers, and so­cial work­ers) as­sess the suit­ab­il­ity of the pro­ject, es­pe­cially when com­pared to oth­er ap­proaches in this field?

The fol­low­ing re­search ques­tions will be answered with re­gard to the res­ults of the "Ru­bikon" pi­lot pro­ject:

  • Could in­dic­a­tions for im­proved so­cial re­la­tion­ships and, thus, in­form­al con­trol, be found?
  • Could im­prove­ments be seen in the prob­lem­at­ic areas of fam­ily, edu­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment, money, leis­ure activ­it­ies, and re­la­tion­ships with peers?
  • Did the of­fend­ers in­volved in the pro­ject re­offend? If so, how fre­quent and severe was this re­newed on­set of de­lin­quency?
  • Were pro­ba­tion or pa­role peri­ods shortened, ex­ten­ded, or re­voked?
  • Did the in­tens­ive su­per­vi­sion provided by the pro­ject res­ult in im­proved com­pli­ance when com­pared to oth­er ap­proaches for in­tens­ive of­fend­ers?

Re­search Meth­od­o­logy:

All of­fend­ers who were ad­mit­ted to the pi­lot pro­ject between March 2010 and Decem­ber 2012 were con­sidered for eval­u­at­ive as­sess­ment. A quasi-ex­per­i­ment was con­duc­ted build­ing con­trol groups with in­tens­ive of­fend­ers re­gistered with the Bav­ari­an po­lice. Here­with com­par­is­ons are be­ing made with:

  1. Reg­u­lar pro­ba­tion,
  2. oth­er ju­ven­ile crim­in­al law meas­ures, and
  3. the crim­in­al justice sys­tem in gen­er­al.

In light of the sample and the eval­u­at­ive goals, a tri­an­gu­la­tion meth­od was chosen to en­sure a dif­fer­en­ti­ated ana­lys­is. Firstly, the ef­fect­ive­ness of in­tens­ive pro­ba­tion sup­port is to be com­pared with oth­er sanc­tions and, secondly, the eval­u­ation will re­cord con­di­tions that may lead to changes in crim­in­al ca­reers.

It is hoped that an ex­plor­at­ive pro­cess of data col­lec­tion will en­able the col­lec­tion of a wide range of ma­ter­i­al. To as­sist in this mat­ter, the ana­lys­is con­tains both ho­ri­zont­al and ver­tic­al ele­ments, as the pro­ject par­ti­cipants are di­vided in­to two groups. On the one hand, of­fend­ers who had already star­ted their par­ti­cip­a­tion in the pi­lot pro­ject pri­or to the col­lec­tion of data or whose par­ti­cip­a­tion in the pro­ject had already ceased were only in­ter­viewed once. On the oth­er hand, those of­fend­ers who were ad­mit­ted in­to the pro­ject later will be in­ter­viewed on three sep­ar­ate oc­ca­sions (at ac­cept­ance in­to the pro­ject, re­lease from the pro­ject, and six months after re­lease).

Data to be col­lec­ted

To as­sist in the eval­u­ation, data from the fol­low­ing sources has already been or will be used:

  • Semi-nar­rat­ive in­ter­views with pro­ject par­ti­cipants and mem­bers of the con­trol groups.
  • Psy­cho­met­ric ques­tion­naires com­pleted by pro­ject par­ti­cipants.
  • Crim­in­al and pro­ba­tion files of ex­per­i­ment­al and con­trol groups.
  • In­ter­views and sur­veys with pro­ba­tion of­ficers, ju­ven­ile court judges, ju­ven­ile court leg­al as­sist­ants, law­yers, po­lice of­ficers, and so­cial work­ers.
  • Ex­cerpts from the Ger­man Fed­er­al Crim­in­al Re­gister to meas­ure re­cidiv­ism among the ex­per­i­ment­al and con­trol groups.

Fund­ing:

The pro­ject was fun­ded by the Bav­ari­an State Min­istry of Justice and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion un­til April 2013. This fin­an­cing, as well as the eval­u­ation con­tract, were con­cluded with the ap­prov­al of the eval­u­ation re­port in April 2013.