Youth Recidivism

Measuring the Impact of an Innovative Diversion Program, Reading for Life  

Reading For Life Logo

Faculty Affiliates: Alesha Seroczynski, William Evans

Partners: Reading For Life, Inc., St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center

Location: South Bend, IN

Policy Issue: In 2012, over one million juvenile arrests occurred throughout the country.  The United States leads all industrialized nations in juvenile incarcerations. Moreover, juvenile offenders face diminished long-term economic prospects and adverse health, educational, and psychosocial outcomes. 

Program Description: The Reading for Life program (based out of the Juvenile Justice Center, Saint Joseph County, Indiana) diverts young non-violent offenders from the juvenile justice system with a unique and innovative program where low-status juveniles study works of literature in small groups led by trained volunteer mentors.

Evaluation: LEO’s evaluation of Reading for Life demonstrated impressive and statistically significant drops in future arrests (recidivism). The program was particularly successful at reducing the recidivism of more serious offenses for those groups with the highest propensity for future offenses - prosecuted felonies fell by 50 percent over the control group mean.  

For more information, please refer to our article in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management: Reading for Life and Adolescent Re-Arrest: Evaluating a Unique Juvenile Diversion Program.