Overview and Inventory of HHS Efforts to Assist Incarcerated and Reentering Individuals and their Families . Criminal Justice Prevention Research Portfolio


Type of Activity: Research

Funding Mechanism: Grants

Total Available Funding: N/A

Number of Awards: 8 grants

Average Award Amount (current year): $521,000

Length of Project Period: Varies

Federal Partners: N/A

Summary: The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) Prevention Research Portfolio supports research across the lifespan to reduce risks and prevent the initiation and progression of drug use to abuse and prevent drug-related HIV acquisition, transmission and progression. This program, in particular, supports research related to drug abuse and HIV prevention for youth, adults and their families (including integergenerational studies) who are at increased risk for and involved in the criminal justice system, including incarceration and reentry. The currently funded grants cover a broad array of topics and populations. Several grants specifically target ethnic minorities including African American and Hispanic youth; these groups are over-represented in the incarcerated youth population. Other grants target adolescent girls who are involved in the juvenile Justice system; a population at particular risk for continued problem behaviors and victimization. As a whole these prevention intervention grants attempt to identify and intervene with youth who are at risk for increasingly more intense levels of criminal justice involvement. Strategies for intervention vary, but include education and empowerment activities, brief court-based substance use interventions, and motivational interviewing.

Background: More than 31 million youth aged 10 to 17 years were under juvenile court jurisdiction in 2007 ( National Center for Juvenile Justice, 2010). Of the 1,666,100 delinquency cases processed in 2007, 54% involved youth younger than 16; 27% involved females; and 64% involved white youth. The problem appears to be escalating at a greater rate for females than males with the female delinquency caseload growing at an average rate of 3% per year compared to 1% per year for males between 1985 and 2007.

From the prevention perspective, it is important to examine the intergenerational impact of criminal justice involvement. Children of parents in the criminal justice system are a population of "lost" (not captured in any system) and vulnerable children, many of whom live in families who have generations of problems with drug abuse, antisocial behavior, etc. In 2007, approximately 52% of state and 63% of federal inmates were parents, and over 1.7 million children had parents in prison (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). Proportionately more inmates were persons of color than Caucasian, and thus Black and Hispanic children were much more likely to have an incarcerated parent than a White child (8 times and 3 times, respectively). Families with an incarcerated parent experienced a variety of problems including homelessness (9%), physical or sexual abuse (20%), medical problems (41%), mental health problems (57%) and substance abuse (67%). Despite these problems, just prior to arrest or incarceration, approximately two-thirds of mothers and half of fathers reported living with their minor children and about half of both fathers and mothers reported being the primary source of support for those children. During incarceration, 85% of mothers and 78% of fathers reported contact with a child. All of these factors must be taken into account when devising interventions to prevent the vicious cycle of drug abuse and criminal justice involvement.

Principle Investigator Location Title
Current Grantees:
Ronald Lloyd Braithwaite Dept of Community Health/Preventive Medicine Atlanta, GA Morehouse School of Medicine (M-MIDARP)
Noelle R. Leonard New York University New York, NY Prevention Intervention for Drug Use & Related Behaviors with Incarcerated Youth
Jeffery N. Draine Center for Mental Health Policy Philadelphia, PA Education and Empowerment Intervention for HIV Prevention In and Out of Jail
Leslie Diane Leve Oregon Social Learning Center Eugene, OR Juvenile Justice Girls: Pathways to Adjustment and System Use in Young Adulthood
Guillermo Prado University of Miami School of Medicine Miami, FL Preventing Drug Abuse and HIV in Hispanic First Offenders
Elizabeth J. D’Amico Rand Santa Monica, CA Brief Substance Use Intervention for Youth in Teen Court
Dana K. Smith OSLC Community Programs Eugene, OR Prevention Drug Abuse & HIV/AIDS in Delinquent Youths: An Integrated Intervention
Anthony Spirito Brown University Providence, RI Individual & Family Motivational Interviews for Substance Using Truant Teens

Locations of Projects: See above

Evaluation Activities: Peer-reviewed publications to disseminate scientific data and findings; presentations of findings at scientific meetings.

Future Prospects: Future prospects dependent upon receiving highly meritorious investigator-initiated projects and funds available.


Susan Weiss, Ph.D.
Phone: (301) 443-6071
Email: susan.weiss@nih.gov

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