Purpose: To assess the effect of a hospital-based peer intervention program serving youth who have been hospitalized for violent injuries on participant involvement in the criminal justice system and violent reinjury and death after hospital discharge.
Methods: A total of 112 violently injured youth (ages 12-20 years; 80% male; predominantly African-American [60%] and Latino [26%]) hospitalized in Oakland, California participated in a retrospective case-control study. Clients were matched by age and injury severity. Treatment and control youth were followed for 6 months after their individual dates of injury. The outcome variables of rate of entry/reentry into the criminal justice system, rate of rehospitalization for violent injuries and rate of violence-related deaths were compared for treatment and control groups using an odds ratio analysis.
Results: Intervention youth were 70% less likely to be arrested for any offense (odds ratio [OR] = 0.257) and 60% less likely to have any criminal involvement (OR = 0.356) when compared with controls. No statistically significant differences were found for rates of reinjury or death.
Conclusion: A peer-based program that intervenes immediately after, or very soon after, youth are violently injured can directly reduce at-risk youth involvement in the criminal justice system.