The use of evidence-based and research-based programs has been a part of juvenile justice in the state of Washington for more than a decade. Successful implementation of "programs that work" has depended on strong joint leader ship, a spirit of cooperation, and dedication to look at program outcomes. In Washington, part of the impetus of the work was a research finding that a specific program was not reducing repeat juvenile crimes. The question became whether there were other programs available that would work. County and state juvenile justice leaders came together with researchers to identify and implement programs that cost effectively reduced recidivism among juvenile offenders.
In 1997, as part of juvenile justice sentencing reforms, the Washington State Legislature passed the Community Juvenile Accountability Act (CJAA.) This act was designed to test whether research-based and evidence-based programs could reduce repeat offenses by juvenile offenders who were on juvenile probation. The legislature provided funding and required that a study be conducted on the programs' impacts. The new funding allowed training for providers in the evidence-based and research-based programs as well as purchased services for youth on probation. This funding has been expanded since the initial act was passed and adult criminal justice funding is now affected by the rate at which youth gain access to these evidence-based programs.
The state, in partnership with 33 county juvenile courts, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, and model experts created the CJAA Advisory Committee. This committee, which is still in place today, provides statewide oversight and decision making for state funded research-based and evidence-based programs. This joint leadership approach and statewide perspective has been integral to the success of Washington State's experience.
At this same time, county juvenile courts implemented a consistent state wide system of risk assessment that identified levels of risk and program eligibility for youth. Courts were able to use some of the new funding to help implement risk assessment. Courts also worked to implement an effective case management approach called Case Management Assessment Process (CMAP). This process is utilized to match youth to evidence-based programs and to increase youth participation in these services.
Research-based and evidence-based programs implemented included: