Compilation of evidence in relation to recidivism1
Important note: The selection of studies included here is by no means comprehensive. This document merely aims to give a brief overview of the types of evidence available in relation to recidivism. It should be noted that the majority of studies included here are from North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe (Netherlands and UK), with a few from Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and China. The studies are arranged into four categories, starting with those which show the greatest reduction in recidivism and ending with those which show no reduction in recidivism or where the results are mixed or inconclusive. Inconsistencies in the way summaries have been compiled reflect the limitations of the desk review and the data available in the original source material. For example, some studies do not measure results against a control group and in some cases the evaluation methodology is not very detailed. Those wishing to gain a more in-depth view of this topic should refer back to the original sources for more detail.
A. Studies which show significantly reduced recidivism
Author, country, date
Brief description of methodology
Findings in relation to recidivism
Henggeler, S. W., Schoenwald, S. K., Borduin, C. M., Rowland, M. D., & Cunningham, P. B. (1998) Multisystemic Treatment of Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press
Authors: Henggeler, S. W., Schoenwald, S. K., Borduin, C. M., Rowland, M. D., & Cunningham, P. B.
Overview of findings for various Mulit-Systemic Therapy (MST) programs.
“MST posits that other approaches to treatment—incarceration, residential treatment centers, and outpatient clinics in particular—have frequently been ineffective because they focus too much on the juvenile individually, provide services in a setting different from the home environment, and have little accountability for success. MST addresses these issues by providing an intensive treatment that focuses on the multiple factors related to delinquency in various settings or systems (e.g., school, family, peers) in the adolescent’s life. It provides this treatment in the home and community of the youth. It has a well-defined and empirically grounded theory of treatment and emphasizes accountability of service providers, effective implementation of the treatment model, and long-term change.2” 3
- youths who received MST had significantly fewer arrests, reported fewer criminal offences and spent an average of ten fewer weeks in detention during a year long follow-up;
- these results were maintained at a 2.4 year follow-up, with MST essentially doubling the % of youth not arrested;
- MST has proven effective with adolescent sex offenders, with 62.5% lower level of sex offending three years after treatment and reduced frequency of arrest (although these findings are tentative due to a small sample size of 16);
- 4 years after treatment, chronic juvenile offenders who received MST offended 50% less than those doing another treatment and 65% less than those who completed neither treatment;
- MST reduced substance abuse significantly in juvenile offenders at a 4 year follow-up, as well as reducing drug related arrests by three quarters. In another study, MST reduced rearrests by 26% and resulted in a 40% reduction in days incarcerated for drug using delinquents, at a one year follow-up;
- with violent and chronic juvenile offenders living in rural areas, MST decreased incarceration by almost half (47%) at 1.7 year follow-up, but did not decrease criminal activity as much as other recent trials.
“There have been eight randomized clinical trials of MST which demonstrate its efficacy for black and white males and females.…