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Juvenile Justice Reentry Project Evaluation

This project is to evaluate the Juvenile Reentry System (JReS) effort in the State of Iowa led by the Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR), Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP). The JReS effort is funded by the Second Chance Act Comprehensive Statewide Juvenile Reentry System Reform Implementation grants, administered by the U.S Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The JReS effort’s two main goals are to (1) reduce the baseline recidivism rates for delinquent youth returning form State Training School (STS), group care and Psychiatric Medical Institutes for Children (PMIC’s) and (2) to improve outcomes for these youths related to family engagement, education, employment, behavioral health, and positive peer groups. In 2015 the Juvenile Reentry Task Force (JRTF) was established to develop and implement a comprehensive statewide reentry plan in Iowa. The JReS effort’s scope includes three Judicial Districts (JD) in the State of Iowa, specifically districts 2, 3, and 5, and associated community school districts (CSD) within the state-wide agency network approach, specifically JRTF.

The focus of the evaluation is on the JReS effort’s implementation phase (June 2016 – July 2017). The JReS evaluation utilizes an integrated strategy for design and implementation by employing both process and outcomes approaches. The evaluation purpose is twofold, specifically to (1) improve and refine plans for establishing a state-level, uniform reentry process (pre- and post-release) for the targeted population of delinquent youths returning from group care and (2) assess the initiative effectiveness. The evaluation’s overarching main questions include: (1) How well is the JReS initiative working? and (2) What are the factors contributing to the immediate changes brought about by the JReS effort as it relates to (a) positive outcomes for youths and reduction in recidivism measured one year after being discharged from facilities (group care) and (b) increased cross-system collaboration and coordination related to re-entry?

The evaluation uses both secondary (i.e., data that would have been gathered regardless of the evaluation-related activities) and primary data within mixed methods design, i.e., employing quantitative and qualitative data collection methods and generating integrated findings (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003).