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Analysis: Holes in the Evidence for Evidence-Based

Aug 13, 2014, Dick Mendel, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

I was reminded of “Less Hype, More Help” this month by the rollout of a JJIE’s new online Resource Hub on evidence-based programs and practices, and by Gary Gately’s feature story JJIE published Wednesday about evidence-based programming. Both are well-written and packed with information — well worth your time.

But reading them only heightened my sense that discussions of evidence-based juvenile justice remain, well, naïve and hyperbolic, just as I was in 2000. I know better now, and in this column I want explain why my unqualified praise for these gold-standard models was misplaced.

Don’t get me wrong. There is an important place in juvenile justice reform for carefully crafted treatment models with hard evidence from randomized trials. And there’s an even more important place for rigorous outcomes measurement and data-driven decision making. But my suggestion that we can revolutionize juvenile justice in this country by replacing the current system with plug-and-play programs was a fantasy back in 2000. And it remains a fantasy today.

Read the full story at JJIE.org.

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Reform areas: Evidence-based practices

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