While more recent state and federal reforms have brought substantial declines in justice-involvement since the early 2000s, particularly for juveniles, justice-system involvement remains high relative to other nations, especially for Black and Latinx men. At the same time, mounting evidence suggests that early justice-involvement undermines a successful transition to adulthood, reducing the likelihood of completing high school, establishing a career, and living independently.
AIR’s justice experts harness decades of experience in the social and behavioral sciences to conduct research and promote evidence-based solutions through relationship-driven technical assistance. Our work addresses the whole of the prevention-intervention continuum, from reducing delinquency and increasing resilience among youth and empowering schools, police, and communities to use evidence-based alternatives to arrest and detention, to rigorous research on desistance from gang violence, mentoring, and reentry from prison to community.
Across research and technical assistance supports, we bring an attention to the role that structural barriers have contributed to justice-involvement and re-involvement. We are committed to examining opportunities to mitigating the role of structural factors which contribute to system-involvement, including as they relate to racism, low-income educational and training resources, poor neighborhood conditions, and inadequate physical and mental health supports.
AIR’s work in criminal and juvenile justice focuses on evaluation and technical assistance to prevent and reduce juvenile and adult offending and re-offending. Our work focuses on reentry, system change and reform, and building capacity from community-based nonprofits to State Correctional Agencies. We believe in strengths- based program supports which attend to the diverse and unique needs of system-impacted youth, young adults, and older adults.
AIR projects provide these services through a variety of means including:
- gathering and analyzing data to better understand the justice-impacted populations;
- studying factors that increase risk of harm or protect people;
- developing and testing prevention strategies; and
- promoting the translation of research into practice through training and technical assistance.
The NRRC, in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, is responsible for: (1) maintaining the NRRC website to provide ongoing support for state, local, and tribal governments to help them support successful reentry among adults and juveniles leaving incarceration; (2) providing an extensive information clearinghouse that spurs the uptake of evidence-based practices and innovation; (3) collaborating with providers to advance the goals of the Second Chance Act, improve reentry, and reduce recidivism; and (4) maintaining the SCA grantee portal.
AIR researchers led a 5-year process and outcome evaluation that examined mentoring at 10 collaborative grantee sites across the United States, each comprising three to four youth mentoring programs. The goal of the MEDP was to test whether youth experienced better outcomes (social, emotional, and delinquency) when mentors incorporated teaching and/or advocacy functions in their relationship with the youth.
Center on Coordinated Assistance to States
In collaboration with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the National Center for Juvenile Justice, AIR provides training and technical assistance to state and local recipients of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Title II Formula and Juvenile Assistance Block Grant funds. The Center provides training, resources, and expertise to grantees focused on strengthen capacities and competencies to plan, establish, operate, coordinate, and evaluate delinquency prevention and juvenile justice systems improvement projects.
Massachusetts Safe and Successful Youth Initiative: Benefit-to-Cost Analysis of Springfield and Boston Sites
AIR and WestEd conducted a preliminary investigation which examined the costs of implementing the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) initiatives as a way to reduce violent crime rates. The SSYI intervention targets male youth who have demonstrated a likelihood to engage in violence, and gives them access to a street outreach worker who connects youth with resources to meet their needs. Findings suggested that every dollar spent at SSYI programming may be associated with a societal cost saving of about $7.35 in 2013 dollars.
San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF) Justice Services Evaluation
This evaluation examines participation, implementation, service coordination, and outcomes of San Francisco DCYF justice services programs. The project team produces twice-annual participation reports on patterns of program participation among youth and young adults referred to programs by the public defender’s office, district attorney’s office, adult and juvenile probation department, and the sheriff’s department, by participant background characteristics, experiences, and risk assessment results. We also produce annual implementation reports to understand why participants are referred to specific programs; what curricula/training materials, incentives, and support services justice services programs offer participants; and how well the programs implement programming.