In the United States, recidivism rates among juvenile offenders continue to grow year after year, despite decades of research to understand the problem, including more recent efforts by the courts to focus on alternatives to incarceration. More contemporary research efforts have suggested that targeting specific risk factors, particularly mental health issues, in juvenile offenders is an effective method for not only reducing recidivism, but the successful completion of probation programs. In virtually all juvenile justice systems across the country, offenders are given a mental health assessment when entering the system, although utilizing the results is neither mandate not nor consistently applied in many cases. This study sought to understand, from the perspective of probation officers in one county in Arizona, why the assessments are not more widely and consistently used. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following research question: How do probation officers for juveniles describe the barriers to implementation of mental health assessments in case planning? This study used a generic qualitative methodology, interviewing current juvenile probation officers. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, analyzed, and ultimately identified three primary themes: lack of training, overwhelming caseloads, and an overall problem with the perceived value of the assessments. Subsequently, these themes are indicators of barriers that probation officers face in their jobs when it comes to implementing mental health assessment results in case planning. Ultimately, this study provided new insight into why juvenile probation officers do not more consistently utilize mental health assessment results and offers implications for future research to expand the population, scope, and understanding of this research topic.
|Commitee:||Atkins, Philip, Schneider, Jeffrey|
|Department:||Public Service Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Criminology|
|Keywords:||Juvenile delinquency, Juvenile probation, Recidivism|
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