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Service Use After Court Involvement in a Sample of Serious Adolescent Offenders

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The juvenile justice system faces a difficult challenge when providing services to serious adolescent offenders, having to balance community safety concerns with hopes for successful intervention. Increasing the effectiveness of this system rests partially on having a clearer picture of the regularities of current service provision to these adolescents. This study describes the types of services received by a large (N=868) sample of adjudicated serious offenders from two metropolitan areas over a two-year follow-up period after adjudication in court, and examines whether indicators of need for services determine the types of services received in the juvenile justice system. Findings indicate that: 1) the level of specialized services received is rather low, 2) there is considerable site variability, 3) the service needs of adolescents sent to different types of settings appear to be generally equivalent, 4) state training schools appear to provide about the same level of services found in contracted provider settings, and 5) need is an inconsistent determinant of service provision.