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SAN FRANCISCO – July 28, 2021 – An independent evaluation of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice’s (CJCJ) longstanding Detention Diversion Advocacy Program (DDAP) finds that the model remains highly effective at reducing a youth’s future involvement in the juvenile justice system. According to the data, young people who participate in DDAP are less than half as likely to be referred to the justice system for a new felony offense as similarly-situated youth who do not receive services through DDAP.

For nearly 30 years, CJCJ’s DDAP has served high-needs youth by providing intensive case management and comprehensive services in youths’ communities. Through DDAP, youth who would likely be detained in juvenile hall are instead given a second chance. The DDAP model originated in San Francisco where it became the first evidence-based, pre-adjudication diversion program in the nation. It was then replicated in Baltimore, Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The program was a semifinalist for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Innovations in Government Award and recognized by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as a model alternative to juvenile detention.

In its latest evaluation, released today, researcher Moira DeNike, PhD, matched DDAP participants with similar high-needs youth who were referred to the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department but did not receive DDAP services. Across every measure of success, DDAP participants far outperformed those in the comparison group. These results align closely with an evaluation conducted more than 20 years ago, which found that the program significantly reduced recidivism among high-needs youth.

Recidivism outcomes among participants in CJCJ’s DDAP vs. youth in a matched comparison group

The evaluation finds: 

  • DDAP participants were 30 percent less likely than the comparison group to recidivate in general.

  • DDAP participants were 56 percent less likely than the comparison group to recidivate with a felony charge.

  • On average, DDAP youth had half as many subsequent referrals to probation as youth in the comparison group (3.2 vs. 6.6).

  • On average, DDAP youth had half as many referrals to probation for a felony offense as youth in the comparison group (1.6 vs. 3.2).

The DDAP model advocates for alternatives to detention and provides services outside of the traditional justice system, leveraging community resources to ensure each client’s success. DDAP is integral to San Francisco’s robust continuum of juvenile justice services and has supported a decades-long effort to reduce unnecessary and costly youth detention in the city, including a current plan to close its juvenile hall.

Since its founding, DDAP has served hundreds of youth across the United States. By offering an effective alternative to detention, DDAP proves instrumental in halting traumatic cycles of justice system involvement for generations of young people.

Read our Detention Diversion Advocacy Program (DDAP) Evaluation »

Contact: For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact CJCJ Communications at (415) 6215661 x. 103 or cjcjmedia@​cjcj.​org.