Two faculty members at Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice will evaluate the effectiveness of a new gang intervention program in Houston that is designed to reduce recidivism rates among juvenile offenders released from Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facilities.
Drs. Kate Fox and Vincent Webb of SHSU and Dr. Charles Katz of Arizona State University received a grant from the Texas Youth Commission to evaluate GitRedy (Gang Intervention Treatment: Reentry Development for Youth), which targets gang-involved youth between the ages of 13 and 19 who will return to Houston from juvenile facilities.
The program will work with youth and their families based on their individual needs and offer intensive therapeutic case management and supportive services, including mental health and substance abuses assistance, care coordination, family counseling, functional family therapy , school-based counseling, gang education and intervention programs, workforce development, employability assistance, mentoring, supported employment, and Aggression Replacement Training.
“The goal is to make sure that the gang members in the program don't recidivate,” said Dr. Fox. “We have two main ways to measure whether the youth commit crime after they reenter the community: re-arrests and re-incarcerations.”
The research project will follow approximately 200 gang members who participated in the GitRedy program and compare the GetRedy youth to those who were not in the program.
“The GitRedy program will be evaluated based on recidivism over time among a sample of juvenile offenders recently released from TYC into Houston, Texas who were members of a street gang prior to incarceration,” said Dr. Fox. “Not all gang members who return to the community recidivate, and an important goal of this study is to pinpoint the differences between those who desist from crime and those who recidivate.”
The program will be evaluated over a one year period, from April 2011 to March 2012.
In addition to capturing data on arrests and incarcerations, the research also will measure how many youth successfully completed the program, the number of youth that became employed, and the number of family members that participated in the service, Dr. Fox said.
In addition to therapeutic and support services, the program offers other opportunities, such as tattoo removal, assistance in obtaining birth certificates or state identification cards, and gang intervention and education curriculum.
Among the goals of the GitRedy program are:
- To ensure early identification of the target population.
- Provide incarcerated youth and their families with comprehensive and coordinated reentry planning.
- Provide targeted gang-involved juvenile parolees returning to Harris County with comprehensive, culturally competent, gang intervention treatment and support services needed to reduce the risk of recidivism.
- Provide youth and families with the skills, strengths and resources to sustain their success.
- Develop and enhance the collaborative relationship among TYC and community partners necessary to sustain the GitRedy program.