The Ambiguity of Prevention: Addressing Programmatic Concerns of a Young Adult Reentry Population
Judith Ryder, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Abstract: Despite the size and wealth of New York City, less than a dozen agencies focus on the needs of people with a history of criminal justice involvement, and also provide interventions that target substance abuse, HIV and Hepatitis C simultaneously. With over 14,000 young people (18-24) annually returning to New York City from the jail system alone, the number of people at-risk for substance abuse and the concomitant health risks of HIV and Hepatitis C strain an already over-burdened group of service providers.
This research examines attitudes and concerns of young adults recruited for prevention services upon returning home from prison or jail. Based on data from a needs assessment, young adults’ attitudes and concerns about prevention are contrasted with those of service providers. While young adults want evidence of the value of programs they are asked to attend and seek demonstrable confirmation of their achievements, prevention programs typically have difficulty meeting this standard; by its very nature, prevention averts an event which has not happened. Recommendations are offered for increasing the volume and altering the nature of prevention services to more closely address the needs of young adults who have a history of criminal justice involvement.