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Operation New Hope

Ages 12-25

Rating: Level 2


Operation New Hope (formerly Lifeskills ’95) is a curriculum-based parole reentry program designed to treat high-risk chronic offenders postrelease by helping them cope with the problems of everyday life. The program reinforces small successes while addressing a chronic offender’s fears of the real world. The approach used by Lifeskills ’95 is based on six programmatic principles believed to help with reintegration:

1. Improve the basic socialization skills necessary for successful reintegration into the community.
2. Significantly reduce criminal activity in terms of amount and seriousness.
3. Alleviate the need for or dependence on alcohol or illicit drugs.
4. Improve overall lifestyle choices (social, education, job training, and employment).
5. Reduce the individual’s need for gang participation and affiliation as a support mechanism.
6. Reduce the high rate of short-term parole revocations.

The treatment consists of 13 consecutive weekly meetings that concentrate on different coping skills: 1) Program Introduction, 2) The “Pit”—Dealing With Your Emotions, 3) Unmanageability, 4) Denial, 5) The Problem of Thinking You Can Do It Alone, 6) “Letting Go,” 7) Perceptions, 8) Expectations, 9) Reality, 10) Love, 11) Family Dynamics, 12) Living With Addiction, 13) Continuous Practice. The meetings last 3 hours. The first 1½ are used for lectures, the last 1½ for group discussion. Participants may begin the program during any point in the curriculum.


The program was evaluated using a quasi-experimental design with a nonrandomized treatment and a control group. The two groups were made up of parolees released from a secured facility between Feb. 1 and Dec. 31, 1995, who were assigned to the California Youth Authority’s Inland Parole Office. If a juvenile reported a residence that was within a 25-mile radius of the Inland Parole Office at the time of release, the youth was placed in the treatment group. If the address was beyond the 25-mile radius, the youth was in the control group. Coincidently, n=115 for both the treatment and the control group. The overwhelming majority of participants were male—97.4 percent in the treatment group and 95.7 percent in the control group. The average ages were 20.0 and 20.2, respectively. The treatment group was 40.9 percent African-American, 39.1 percent Hispanic, and 14.8 percent white. The control group was 50.4 percent Hispanic, 24.3 percent African-American, and 20.0 percent white. The treatment group was required to attend all 13 Lifeskills ’95 classes, while the control group was not.

Data was collected through semistructured interviews and surveys of parolees, treatment facilitators, and parole agents. Random drug tests were also performed. Data was collected three times: 1) the 1st week after release, 2) after the treatment was complete (3 months after release), and 3) at the end of the evaluation period (Feb. 28, 1996). During this analysis, n=106 for the treatment group and nine parolees became involved in an additional program and were removed from the sample.


Ninety days after release from secure confinement, control group youths were twice as likely as the experimental group to have been rearrested, to be unemployed and to lack the resources necessary to find and maintain a job, to have a poor attitude toward working, and to have frequently abused drugs or alcohol. Control group youths were three times as likely to associate with former gang members, to have “serious problems” with family relationships, to be unresponsive and negative in their commitments to parole, and to associate almost exclusively with negative, unfavorable peer groups.

A year after the evaluation began, the results were just as favorable for the Lifeskills ’95 program. The control group youths were twice as likely as the experimental group to have one or more arrests, to be associated with negative peer groups, and to be unemployed without means of financial support. They were also twice as likely to have failed in their parole, meaning they had their parole revoked owing to a technical or criminal violation, were in jail awaiting a new criminal charge, were in temporary detention awaiting a revocation hearing, or they were missing. Control group youths were three times as likely as experimental group youths to continue their abuse of drugs.

All of these findings were significant.


Josi, Don A., and Dale K. Sechrest. 1999. “A Pragmatic Approach to Parole Aftercare: Evaluation of a Community Reintegration Program for High-Risk Youthful Offenders.” Justice Quarterly 16:51–80.


Bill Degnan
Operation New Hope
715 West 11th Street
Corona, CA 92882
Phone: (951) 737-6805

Technical Assistance Provider

Greg Baugh, Supervising Parole Agent
Division of Juvenile Justice
5700 Division Street, Suite 200
Riverside, CA 92506
Phone: (951) 782-3214
Fax: (951) 782-4918