Program Goals/Target Population
California’s Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) is a multimodal early intervention program targeting young offenders at high risk of becoming chronic delinquents. Originally developed by the Orange County (Calif.) Probation Department in the early 1990s, the program features a combination of intensive supervision and wraparound services. (It is also sometimes referred to as the 8% Solution, because of its emphasis on the small percentage of youth most likely to become serious repeat offenders.)
To qualify for ROPP, juveniles must be first-time offenders, no older than 15½, and exhibit at least three of the following risk factors:
- School behavior and performance problems (attendance, suspension/expulsion, failure of two or more classes)
- Family problems (poor supervision/control, history of domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, family members with criminal backgrounds)
- Substance abuse problems (regular use of alcohol or drugs)
- High-risk behaviors (stealing, chronic runaway, gang membership)
Between 1994 and 2000 the State of California implemented multiyear ROPP demonstration projects in eight California counties: Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Solano. At each site, probation officers identified cases that were appropriate for the program and referred them to a youth and family resource center. At the centers, agencies collaborated as a team to assess a youth’s need and devise a case planning strategy. The collaborative partners offered an array of enhanced services such as individual and group counseling, mental health services, tutoring, transportation, and vocational training.
There were slight variations in the service delivery models used at each site. Some ROPP counties implemented a centralized model in which participants received all services at a “one-stop center.” Others pursued a more decentralized approach, relying on conventional referral networks or a network of regional service hubs. However, all the sites adhered to the same basic program model—relying on a multidisciplinary intervention team to provide enhanced case management and integrated services to all participating youths and their families.
In San Diego County, serious offenders who are gang-involved are transferred to the Gang Suppression Unit, which provides intensive supervision for documented gang members and emphasizes a high level of community control through proactive enforcement of conditions of probation, using searches, drug tests, and law enforcement surveillance. Aftercare services provided by community agencies and through natural family supports are gradually phased in for all clients as program completion approaches, by linking community and family services into the case management plan. Employing a “wraparound” approach to service delivery (a strengths-based, family-centered approach that seeks a balance between formal services and natural supports that continue to support the family when formal services are no longer needed) helps create an environment in which clients are less dependent on ROPP, so transition away from ROPP is made easier.
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Probation Violations and New Offenses
The treatment group was found to have significantly more petitions filed for probation violations than the control group, which is interpreted by Howard and colleagues (2002) as an indication of greater levels of supervision. In terms of petitions for new offenses, the Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) group showed no statistically significant differences compared to the control group at the final follow-up. In terms of the type of offenses being petitioned, the ROPP group had proportionally less felonies than the control group, a similar level of misdemeanors, and significantly more probation violations.
Warrants and Days in Custody
There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in terms of percentage of the sample on warrant status at the final follow-up. Although figures show ROPP participants tended to be incarcerated more at follow-up points and spend more time in custody, there were no statistically significant differences between the ROPP and control groups in terms of days spent in custody.
There were no statistically significant differences between the GPA scores of the ROPP and control groups at the final follow-up. Additionally, there were no statistically significant differences in terms of number of classes passed or in terms of number of classes failed between the ROPP and the control groups at the final 24-month follow-up.
Probation Violations and New Offenses
Zhang and Zhang (2005) found that the ROPP group and the comparison group showed no statistically significant differences at any measurement period in terms of petitions filed for violations of probation. Additionally, in terms of the petitions filed for new offenses, there were no statistically significant differences between the ROPP and comparison groups at the final follow-up.
The ROPP group attended statistically significantly more school days in the past 6 months than the control group at all follow-up periods. However, in terms of classes passed, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups at the final follow-up. Finally, in terms of GPA there were no statistically significant differences between the groups at the final follow-up.
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