Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Michael Knight


Gang activity has become widespread in the United States, totaling over 1.5 millionjuvenile gang members. Often, male African American youth join gangs at higher rates than any other race or ethnicity, and these juveniles are likely to reoffend. To reduce recidivism in Georgia, policy and lawmakers have attempted juvenile justice reform, but gang activity and recidivism among this population continues to persist. This qualitative study was conducted to determine probation officers’ perceptions of evidence-based programs effectiveness in reducing recidivism rates for gang-involved youth. Data were collected through interviews with 10 juvenile probation officers with at least 3 years of experience working with gang-involved youth in metro Atlanta counties in the state of Georgia. Data were analyzed and the following themes emerged: (a) having a positive mindset improves effective strategies with the evidence-based program when there are positive support systems and proper resources for gang-involved youth; (b) effective communication increases the effectiveness of evidence-based programs and reduces recidivism rates; (c) financial barriers can impact a youth’s ability to succeed in evidence-based programs; (d) barriers that result in ineffective strategies to reduce recidivism for gang-involved youth; and (e) reasons that increase recidivism and take juvenile gang members down a path to prison. The findings from this research have potential implications for positive social change by increasing approaches to understanding the effectiveness of evidence-based programs in reducing recidivism among gang-involved youth, which could lead to more effective means of addressing this population.