Changing Lives Delinquency Prevention as Crime-Control Policy
by Peter W. Greenwood, foreword by Franklin E. Zimring
University of Chicago Press, 2005
Cloth: 978-0-226-30719-0 | Paper: 978-0-226-30720-6 | Electronic: 978-0-226-30723-7


One of the most astonishing aspects of juvenile crime is how little is known about the impact of the policies and programs put in place to fight it. The most commonly used strategies and programs for combating juvenile delinquency problems primarily rely on intuition and fads. Fortunately, as a result of the promising new research documented in Changing Lives, these deficiencies in our juvenile justice system might quickly be remedied.

Peter W. Greenwood here demonstrates here that as crimes rates have fallen, researchers have identified more connections between specific risk factors and criminal behavior, while program developers have discovered a wide array of innovative interventions. The result of all this activity, he reveals, has been the revelation of a few prevention models that reduce crime much more cost-effectively than popular approaches such as tougher sentencing, D.A.R.E., boot camps, and "scared straight" programs. Changing Lives expertly presents the most promising of these prevention programs, their histories, the quality of evidence to support their effectiveness, the public policy programs involved in bringing them into wider use, and the potential for investments and developmental research to increase the range and quality of programs.


Peter W. Greenwood is the former director of the RAND Corporation’s Criminal Justice Program. He is coauthor of four previous books, including, most recently, Investing in Our Children.


“In Changing Lives, Peter Greenwood sifts through a massive and disparate body of literature on delinquency prevention programs to identify those programs that appear to have promise. Greenwood also offers a sophisticated discussion about calculating the economic advantages of various programs. In the course of this study, he never shies away from making candid assessments about why policymakers have continued to support ineffective programs."
— Barry Krisberg, Barry Krisberg

“Changing Lives offers a clear and penetrating analysis of the current state of delinquency prevention and intervention efforts in this country. The good news is that there are a significant number of delinquency prevention programs that meet a high scientific standard for demonstrated effectiveness; the bad news is that many of the most popular prevention programs and strategies in current use are ineffective. Peter Greenwood makes a compelling case for the claim that implementing more effective delinquency prevention programs is the best strategy for controlling crime. His recommendations for advancing this agenda are well conceived and practical and offer some realistic hope for developing a truly effective crime-control program in this country.”--Delbert S. Elliott, director, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, University of Colorado at Boulder

— Delbert S. Elliott, Delbert S. Elliott

“Peter Greenwood is the dean of delinquency prevention policy in America, and this handy volume is likely to become the standard reference book for the field. Greenwood’s mission is to summarize concisely what works and what does not work in the field of delinquency prevention, but in so doing, he also gives tutorial lessons in research methodology, cost-effectiveness analysis, and political analysis of why some programs live on well past their demonstrated failure. Ultimately, he argues persuasively in favor of a culture of accountability, the scientific method, and prevention, all laced with political savvy.--Kenneth A. Dodge, William McDougall Professor of Public Policy and director, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University


— Kenneth A. Dodge, Kenneth A. Dodge


List of Illustrations



Part 1 The Nature and Effectiveness of Crime Prevention

Chapter 1 Delinquency Prevention as Crime Control

Chapter 2 The Evolution of an Idea

Chapter 3 Strategies for Measuring Program Impact

Chapter 4 What Works

Chapter 5 What Doesn’t Work

Part 2 Prevention and Policy

Chapter 6 The Uses and Limits of Cost Effectiveness in AllocatingCrime-Prevention Resources

Chapter 7 Politics, Government, and Prevention

Chapter 8 Programming in the Modern Juvenile Court