January 18, 2011
The Returning Educated African-American and Latino Men to Enriched Neighborhoods (REAL MEN) intervention is designed to reduce drug use, risky sexual behavior, and criminal activity among males ages 16-18 leaving New York City jails. The current study assessed the impact of this multifaceted approach.
A total of 552 participants were recruited in city jails and randomly assigned to receive either an intensive 30-hour jail/community-based intervention or a single jail-based discharge planning session. In addition, all the men were referred to optional services at a community-based organization (CBO). One year after release from jail, 397 (72 percent) completed a follow-up interview. REAL MEN's impact on drug use, risky sexual behavior, criminal justice involvement, and school/work involvement post-release was evaluated using logistic and ordinary least squares regression.
The results showed assignment to REAL MEN and, independently, use of CBO services, significantly reduced the odds of substance dependence (odds ratio=.52, p=.05; OR=.41, p=.05, respectively) one year post-release. Participants assigned to the intervention spent 29 fewer days in jail compared with those in the control group (p=.05). Compared to non-CBO visitors, those who visited the CBO were more likely to have attended school or found work in the year after release (OR=2.02, p=.01).
"Jail and community services reduced drug dependence one year after release and the number of days spent in jail after the index arrest," the researchers concluded. "While these findings suggest that multifaceted interventions can improve outcomes for young men leaving jail, rates of drug use, risky sexual behavior, and recidivism remained high for all participants after release from jail, suggesting the need for additional policy and programmatic interventions."