Much contemporary discussion of the future of the juvenile court revolves around the balance between rehabilitation and punishment, especially with regard to the most serious juvenile offenders. Political forces increasingly press in the direction of punitive approaches, while the historical orientation of the court has been rehabilitative. This article addresses the question of whether rehabilitative treatment can be effective for the most serious offenders. Meta-analysis techniques were used to synthesize the large body of empirical research on the effects of rehabilitative programs in community and institutional settings. The results show that well-designed rehabilitative strategies do reduce recidivism for such offenders and cannot be dismissed on the grounds that they are ineffective.
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