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Repeat Offender Prevention Program

Ages 8-15

Rating: Level 3


California’s Repeat Offender Prevention Program (ROPP) is a multimodal early intervention program targeting young offenders at high risk of becoming chronic delinquents. Originally developed by the Orange County (Calif.) Probation Department in the early 1990s, the program features a combination of intensive supervision and wraparound services. (It is also sometimes referred to as the 8% Solution, because of its emphasis on the small percentage of youth most likely to become serious repeat offenders.)

To qualify for ROPP, juveniles must be first-time offenders, no older than 15½, and exhibit at least three of the following risk factors:

  • School behavior and performance problems (attendance, suspension/expulsion, failure of two or more classes)
  • Family problems (poor supervision/control, history of domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, family members with criminal backgrounds)
  • Substance abuse problems (regular use of alcohol or drugs)
  • High-risk behaviors (stealing, chronic runaway, gang membership)

Between 1994 and 2000 the State of California implemented multiyear ROPP demonstration projects in eight California Counties: Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Solano. At each site, probation officers identified cases that were appropriate for the program and referred them to a youth and family resource center. At the centers, agencies collaborated as a team to assess a youth’s need and devise a case planning strategy. The collaborative partners offered an array of enhanced services such as individual and group counseling, mental health services, tutoring, transportation, and vocational training.

There were slight variations in the service delivery models used at each site. Some ROPP counties implemented a centralized model in which participants received all services at a “one-stop center.” Others pursued a more decentralized approach, relying on conventional referral networks or a network of regional service hubs. However, all the sites adhered to the same basic program model—relying on a multidisciplinary intervention team to provide enhanced case management and integrated services to all participating youths and their families.

In San Diego County, serious offenders who are gang-involved are transferred to the Gang Suppression Unit, which provides intrusive supervision for documented gang members and emphasizes a high level of community control through proactive enforcement of conditions of probation, using searches, drug tests, and law enforcement surveillance. Aftercare services provided by community agencies and through natural family supports are gradually phased in for all clients as program completion approaches, by linking community and family services into the case management plan. Employing a “wraparound” approach to service delivery (a strengths-based, family-centered approach that seeks a balance between formal services and natural supports that continue to support the family when formal services are no longer needed) helps create an environment in which clients are less dependent on ROPP, so transition away from ROPP is made easier.


At the request of the California State Legislature, California’s Board of Corrections conducted a statewide randomized, experimental evaluation of the ROPP program. A total of 1,799 juveniles were randomly assigned to either their local ROPP or a comparison group, where they were tracked for up to 2 years at 6-month intervals. Most of the sample (79.3 percent) was male, with a median age of 14.3 years. Forty-one percent of the sample was Hispanic, 28.5 percent was African-American, 18.3 percent white, 7.5 percent “other,” 2.4 percent Filipino, and 2.1 percent American Indian.

The evaluation tracked outcomes in three major areas: 1) educational behavior and achievement (grade point averages, school attendance, and grade level; 2) personal accountability (through court-ordered obligations and drug testing); and 3) criminal behavior (new offenses, probation violations, sustained petitions and type of offense, time in custody, and warrant status). The evaluators also tracked the level and type of service(s) provided to each youth enrolled in the study.


Overall, youths enrolled in the ROPP projects had significantly better outcomes than their counterparts in the control group. ROPP juveniles 1) attended significantly more days of school, 2) made more immediate improvements in grade point average, 3) were less likely to fall below grade level, 4) significantly increased their completion of court-ordered obligations for restitution, work, and community service, 5) significantly reduced their percentage of positive drug tests, 6) had significantly fewer of the highest sustained petitions for new offenses, and 7) absconded at a significantly lower rate. The Board of Corrections also found that ROPP youth and their families received “a significantly higher level of educational and other support services” than comparison youths and experienced much more regular contact with their assigned probation officers.

At the local level, there was significant variation in the outcomes achieved by each county. While all eight counties reported some type of positive outcome (most frequently in educational achievement), only three sites (Fresno County, Orange County, and San Diego County) could demonstrate a significant impact on new criminal behavior. Statewide, ROPP juveniles were just as likely as to commit new offenses as their counterparts in the comparison group. The inconsistency in the various sites’ results may be due, in part, to differences in program implementation. A recent process and outcome evaluation of the Los Angeles ROPP (which failed to show any long-term impact on repeat offending) found that the site suffered from delays in interagency collaboration, high staff turnover, and inadequate documentation, among other problems. The authors of the Los Angeles study also contend that the ROPP model’s long-term effectiveness is limited by its failure to address community-level risk factors (such as concentrated poverty) as well as individual risk factors (Zhang and Zhang, 2005).


Schumacher, Michael, and Gwen A. Kurz. 2000. The 8% Solution—Preventing Serious Repeat Juvenile Crime. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

State of California Board of Corrections. 2002. Repeat Offender Prevention Program: Final Report. Sacramento, Calif.: State of California Board of Corrections.

Zhang, Sheldon X., and Lening Zhang. 2005. “An Experimental Study of the Los Angeles Repeat Offender Prevention Program: Its Implementation and Evaluation.” Criminology and Public Policy 4:205–36.


Orange County Probation Department
1535 East Orange Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92805
Phone: (714) 569-2000
Web site: