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Program Profile: Operation Night Light (ONL) (Midwest)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - One study No Effects - One study

Date: This profile was posted on March 07, 2019

Program Summary

This is a home-visiting program for youth on probation who are considered at high risk of recidivism. The program is rated No Effects. Compared with the treatment group, the control group was more likely to have completed probation, less likely to have probation revoked due to a technical violation, and committed fewer new crimes during probation; however, they recidivated sooner. There were no differences in the probation revocations due to severity of a new crime.

Program Description

Program Goals/Key Personnel/Program Activities
Operation Night Light (ONL) is a home-visiting program for youth on probation in a midsize city in the Midwest who are at high risk of recidivism. A probation officer and a police officer conduct the visits when the youth, a member of his or her immediate family, or both, are likely to be at home. Visits are typically between the hours of 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The probation officer leads the conversation while the police officer is present only for security and safety purposes.

The program enforces a weekday curfew of 7:00 p.m. for middle school students and 8:00 pm for high school students, and a weekend curfew of 9:00 p.m. for middle school students and 11:00 p.m. for high school students. The curfew does not apply if the youth is accompanied by a parent or approved guardian.

Target Population/Eligibility
ONL is designed for youth on probation between the ages of 10 and 17 who have one or more of the following risk factors: 1) history of family violence, drug activity, or gang activity; 2) prior violent offense(s); 3) suspected gang affiliation; 4) friend or family of recent homicide victim; 5) friend or family of recent homicide perpetrator; 6) suspected drug use or involvement in drug sales while on probation; and 7) current warrant or violation of probation status. If the last two factors become relevant for youth on regular probation, the probation officer may elect to move that youth into ONL.

Additional Information: Negative Program Effects
Alarid and Rangel (2018) found statistically significant differences between groups, as follows: 1) juvenile probationers who participated in the ONL program were more likely to commit a new crime during probation and less likely to complete probation, compared with juveniles on regular probation; and 2) juveniles receiving regular probation recidivated sooner than ONL juveniles. However, there were no differences between the groups in the frequency of probation revocation due to the severity of the new crime committed.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Overall, Alarid and Rangel (2018) found mixed, statistically significant results regarding the impact of the Operation Night Light (ONL) program. Juveniles receiving ONL were less likely to successfully complete probation and more likely to have their probation revoked due to a technical violation, compared with those on regular probation. ONL juveniles were also more likely to commit a new crime during probation supervision, compared with the juveniles on regular probation; however, there were no differences between the groups in the frequency of probation revocation due to the severity of the new crime committed. Finally, juveniles receiving regular probation recidivated sooner than ONL juveniles. Overall, the preponderance of evidence suggests that the program did not have the intended effects on participants.

Successful Probation Completion
ONL juveniles were less likely to successfully complete probation. The success rate for probation completion was 71 percent for juveniles on regular probation and 58 percent for ONL juveniles. This difference was statistically significant.

Probation Revocation due to Technical Violation
About 32 percent of ONL juveniles had probation revoked due to a technical violation, compared with 18 percent of juveniles on regular probation. This difference was statistically significant. ONL juveniles were more likely to be terminated by the court for technical violations.

Probation Revocation due to Severity of New Crime
There was no significant difference between the groups in the frequency of probation revocation due to the severity of the new crime committed.

New Crime Committed During Probation Supervision
ONL juveniles were more likely to commit a new crime during probation supervision. About 35 percent of ONL juveniles committed a new crime, compared with 16 percent of juveniles on regular probation. This difference was statistically significant.

Time to Recidivism
There were statistically significant differences in time to recidivism between the two groups. Juveniles receiving regular probation were slightly more than three times as likely to recidivate within 24 months after probation completion, compared with juveniles receiving ONL. This finding suggests that juveniles on regular probation recidivated sooner than ONL juveniles.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
The quasi-experimental study by Alarid and Rangel (2018) focused on juvenile probationers who participated in Operation Night Light (ONL) in a midsize city in the Midwest. The total sample comprised 724 youth: there were 287 ONL probationers matched with a comparison group of 437 regular probationers. The comparison group was generated from a list of youth on regular probation who met ONL criteria and likely would have been assigned to ONL if the program had been available at the time. The treatment group received home visits from a probation officer and a police officer about once every other month, for an average of five visits total. The comparison group received no home visits. Both groups were required to attend probation office visits and adhere to treatment plans. None of the youth were under active supervision at the time of the study, but all were tracked for 24 months following the end of their probation.

The ONL group was 46.7 percent white or Hispanic, 53.3 percent African American, and 79 percent male. ONL youth were on probation for person/violence offenses (22.7 percent), property offenses (45.5 percent), drug possession (15.0 percent), and for other offenses (16.8 percent). Fifty percent were adjudicated for a felony offense, and 50 percent were adjudicated for a misdemeanor. On average, ONL youth were on probation for 11.3 months. The comparison group was 43.7 percent white or Hispanic and 56.3 percent African American, and 84.7 percent were male. Comparison youth were on probation for person/violence offenses (39.1 percent), property offenses (38 percent), drug possession (20.1 percent), and for other offenses (2.7 percent). Of this group, 74.6 percent were adjudicated for a felony offense, whereas 25.4 percent were adjudicated for a misdemeanor. On average, comparison youth were on probation for 10.4 months. In both groups, ages ranged from 10 to 18 years with an average of 15. Participants who were 18 at the time of data collection had been placed on probation prior to their 18th birthday.

Chi-square analyses were used to uncover any potential statistically significant differences between the two groups. The ONL group and comparison group were found to be similar in terms of sex, race, ethnicity, age, proportion of drug and nonviolent offenses, and length of time on probation. The only statistically significant difference between the two groups was the proportion of person/violent crimes. The comparison group had more person/violent offenses (39 percent) than the ONL group (23 percent). The comparison group also had a higher proportion of felony offenses (75 percent) than the ONL group (50 percent).

Official agency data for descriptive variables was obtained from juvenile probation case files (i.e., age, race, gender, current offense, offense severity). Administrative case files and probation records provided the data for number of home visits, type of home visits (no response, contact with probationer, or collateral contact), whether a new crime was committed while on probation, disposition of the new crime, and type of discharge from probation supervision (successful completion, revocation for a new crime, or revocation for a technical violation). During the study, there were a total of 1,420 home visit attempts made to the ONL group, which resulted in an average of five visits per youth.

One outcome of interest was defined as successful or unsuccessful completion of probation. Successful completion of probation occurred when a youth was discharged from probation after serving the time. Unsuccessful completion was coded as revocation, which occurred when a youth was terminated or discharged prematurely from probation due to severity of a new crime. Severity was determined by whether the new offense was a misdemeanor or a felony. Probationers who committed technical violations or a crime while on probation, but remained on supervision, were not considered discharged until probation ended. Discharge from probation was counted only once per youth. Outcome variables included prevalence of rearrest, type of crimes involved in the rearrest, and date of rearrest in relation to date of probation discharge.

Logistic regression models were run with both treatment and control groups together to determine which variables were significant predictors of probation completion and later rearrest. Survival analysis and Cox regression were used to analyze factors involved in a youth’s time to rearrest. The standard Cox regression analysis was used to examine the time until individuals in either group would recidivate after being discharged from probation.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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Operation Night Light requires collaboration between probation officers and police officers. There are several ways to manage this partnership. Probation officers who normally work during the day may rotate one evening shift per week to conduct home visits. Some probation officers only work at night, visiting probationers as requested by their daytime probation officers. Other communities have implemented police-probation partnerships to reduce truancy in schools through communication with school resource officers (Alarid 2015; Matz and Kim 2013; Alarid, Sims, and Ruiz 2011)
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Other Information

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Alarid and Rangel (2018) found that among both the treatment and control groups, the most important predictor of success was gender. Girls were 2.63 times more likely to complete probation than boys. In terms of race, white youth were 1.52 times more likely to complete probation than African American youth. There were no significant differences in probation completion based on age or the original offense for which they were convicted. The study authors found similar results when looking at length of time before individuals in either group would recidivate. There were no significant differences between ONL and control groups in types of offenses committed for those rearrested for new crimes following probation supervision. About half committed a nonviolent property crime, slightly more than one third committed a violent/person crime, and the remainder were rearrested for drug-related crimes.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Alarid, Leanne Fiftal, and Luis M. Rangel, Jr. 2018 “Completion and Recidivism Rates of High-Risk Youth on Probation: Do Home Visits Make a Difference?” The Prison Journal 98:143–62.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Alarid, Leanne Fiftal. 2015. “Perceptions of Probation and Police Officer Home Visits During Intensive Probation Supervision.” Federal Probation 79:11–16.

Alarid, Leanne Fiftal, B.A. Sims, and J. Ruiz. 2011. “Juvenile Probation and Police Partnerships as Loosely Coupled Systems: A Qualitative Analysis.” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 9:79–95.

Matz, A.K., and B. Kim. 2013. “Policy Implications of Police-Probation/Parole Partnerships: A Review of the Literature.” Federal Probation 77:9–16.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Juvenile Curfew Laws
Juvenile curfew laws are designed to restrict juveniles (below ages 17 or 18) from public places during specific hours such as nighttime (e.g., between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.) or during the school day (e.g., 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The primary purpose is to reduce juvenile crime and victimization by keeping them at home with their families or in school. This practice is rated No Effects for reducing juvenile crime during curfew hours.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 10 - 17

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Home

Program Type: Probation/Parole Services

Targeted Population: Young Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide