A New Serious Offenders Program

Policy problem

In recent years, there has been a deliberate effort to reduce the number of youth  adjudicated to Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities as a result of serious offenses.  Instead, there has been a shift to provide rehabilitative services locally, enabling families to be involved in the youth’s rehabilitation process. To meet these challenges, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department (HCJPD) aimed to design an innovative residential program that was grounded in existing scientific evidence.

Our approach

The Texas Policy Lab provided literature reviews and other analyses  to HCJPD as they applied for a state grant to fund the new program. Once funding was obtained, we identified and convened leading experts around the country to assist the HCJPD in designing the residential program for serious offenders. The QUEST program was initially launched in 2020. The Texas Policy Lab will conduct a rigorous scientific evaluation of the program once it is fully established. 

Results and Impact

HCJPD recently launched QUEST, and the Texas Policy Lab provided a crucial bridge between leading academics and practitioners in the design of a new program f. If the evaluation shows the program is successful, the evidence can be used by other jurisdictions in Texas and the U.S. to serve and rehabilitate youths with a history of repeat and serious offenses.

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