The Effectiveness of School Based Intensive Probation for Reducing Recidivism: An Evaluation of Maryland's Spotlight on Schools Program

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School Based Probation programs provide intensive supervision for juvenile probationers by placing probation officers in high schools. However, they have yet to undergo rigorous evaluation. Previous evaluations suffered from methodological flaws and have presented inconsistent findings. The state of Maryland began its SBP program, called Spotlight on Schools (SOS), in the 1990's. It is now used in many schools throughout the state. SOS has never been formally assessed. This dissertation presents results from a quasi-experimental non-equivalent group study examining the recidivism rates of students in schools with and without this probation program. I address the flaws of previous evaluations by using two statistical methods. First, I use multi-level modeling to predict school level recidivism while controlling for statistically relevant individual level and school level characteristics. Second, I use survival analysis to determine if juveniles on SBP experience a longer time in the community before recidivism. These analyses are supplemented with interviews of school principals and probation officers. Results from the multi-level modeling and survival analysis indicate that school participation in the SOS program is not significantly related to likelihood of recidivism or the seriousness of recidivism. Seven of the eight outcome variables assessed in this evaluation are not significantly related to participation in the SOS program. This study joins a long list of intensive supervision evaluations that suggest that these programs have no significant impact on juvenile recidivism.