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Highlights

State juvenile justice systems face critical problems when it comes to juvenile delinquency issues such as reentry--when offenders return home from incarceration--and substance abuse. GAO was asked to review juvenile reentry and substance abuse program research and efforts by the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to provide information on effective programs (i.e., whether a program achieves its intended goal) and cost-beneficial programs (i.e., whether the benefits of programs exceeded their costs). This report addresses (1) expert opinion and available research on these types of reentry and substance abuse programs, (2) the extent to which OJJDP assesses its efforts to disseminate information on effective programs, and (3) OJJDP's plans to accomplish its research and evaluation goals. GAO, among other things, reviewed academic literature, and OJJDP's dissemination efforts and research goals. GAO also interviewed OJJDP officials and a nonprobability sample of 26 juvenile justice experts selected based on their experience with juvenile reentry and substance abuse issues.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 1. To help ensure that OJJDP's Model Programs Guide is regularly meeting user needs and providing the most helpful information on effective programs, consistent with federal guidelines, the Administrator of OJJDP should develop a cost-effective mechanism for regularly soliciting and incorporating feedback from the juvenile justice field on the usefulness of the information provided in its Model Programs Guide.
Closed - Implemented
In fiscal year 2009, we reviewed and reported on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP's) efforts to disseminate information about effective programs and assess the utility of the information it is providing through these efforts. We reported, among other things, that OJJDP has mechanisms in place to ensure that training and technical assistance meet users' needs, but that OJJDP could better ensure the usefulness of the information it disseminates through the Model Programs Guide (MPG) by having a mechanism in place to solicit regular feedback related to the MPG from the juvenile justice field. According to OJJDP officials and OJJDP's website, OJJDP developed text in the MPG which invites comments from MPG users. OJJDP officials provided documentation to show that they respond and, as appropriate, incorporate the feedback that is collected. This feedback mechanism is consistent with our recommendation and, as a result, this recommendation is closed as implemented.

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