Research has shown that punishment alone is not the most effective way to to help a young person change his or her behavior -- the primary goal of juvenile drug courts, and, indeed, juvenile probation generally. Instead, a combination of punishment, or sanctions, with incentives, is most effective.
But if you want to act on this information, you're likely to have a number of questions. Here's just a few of the questions that commonly arise:
- 1. Is there a ready-made list of sanctions and incentives we could use?
- 2. Should we start out giving a strong sanction to get the offender’s attention, or should we build up to that?
- 3. Are we coddling offenders by giving them incentives?
- 4. Does it matter how long you wait after the behavior is detected to give a sanction or incentive?
And that's just the beginning. To help you make sense of the options -- and to give you several lists of ideas for your own graduated sanctions and incentives grid -- I'm posting a number of resources here.
From NCJFCJ (and shared with permission):
- "Making Sense of Incentives and Sanctions in Working with the Substance Abusing Offender," by Susan Yeres, Ed.D., Betty Gurnell, M.Ed., Meg Holmberg, MSW. (This excellent guide is where I got the four questions above -- download it to see eight more common questions, and answers to all 12.)
- Need ideas for incentives and sanctions? Then try the NCJFCJ's "laundry list."
- How can you afford to pay for incentives? What if the teen doesn't react the way we thought he or she would? You can find answers to these and other questions in the NCJFCJ's frequently asked questions document.
If your team is working on implementing incentives and sanctions together, you'll probably want these as well, also from the NCJFCJ:
- An incentives and sanctions workbook that NCJFCJ uses in its 1-1/2 day training on the subject to guide teams through the decision-making process.
- A worksheet for sanctions.
- A worksheet for incentives.
No list like this, however, would be complete without acknowledging the work done by Reclaiming Futures' own Justice Fellows -- the probation officers who helped develop the Reclaiming Futures model in our ten foudning sites. In 2005, they created the colorful incentives/sanctions grid you see pictured in this post.
- The Illustrative Graduated Response Grid
- About the grid
- "The Illustrative Graduated Response Grid is a tool that may be used by treatment providers, corrections personnel and judicial professionals, in responding appropriately to a youthful offender’s behavior."
- Also, please note that the incentives and sanctions listed are just suggestions. Your community way choose different items.