Program

Oct 16, 2012

OVERVIEW

The REAL MEN program is a short-term program for young men leaving jail that focuses on the young men’s priorities, school, and work, as well as on the psychosocial issues that influence their sexual and drug behavior.  The program uses discussions of masculinity and cultural norms associated with masculinity to inform young men’s options with regards to preventing sexual risk and other risk behaviors.  There is a specific focus on the alternatives available to young men in African American and Latino communities.

In an evaluation comparing young men in a REAL MEN intervention with those in a control group, those in the intervention  group were less likely to report alcohol or drug dependence and less likely to report hard drug use at 12 months post-release from jail.  There were no differences between the treatment and control groups in sexual risk behaviors, criminal justice involvement, or enrollment or advancement in educational or vocations programs.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Incarcerated Latino and African American male youth (aged 16- to 19-years-old) in jail.

REAL MEN is a 30-hour program that takes place primarily in a jail setting, followed by a community setting in the months post-release. The intervention targets risk behavior through health education and referrals for health care, as well as through connecting the young men to job training, education, and other services.  The REAL MEN program includes discussions of masculinity and the norms and views associated with masculinity, as well as non-judgmental discussions of risk behaviors and alternatives to risk behaviors.

One of the key components of the REAL MEN program includes utilizing staff who have personal and/or work experience in criminal justice and substance abuse treatment programs.  The curriculum includes sessions in jail that focus on the following topics: getting ready for going home; staying healthy to stay free (and what about HIV?); being a REAL MAN in today’s world; sex in the risk zone; and my people, my pride/mi gente, mi orgulla.  Additional jail-based activities include an orientation, an intake interview, a discharge plan, a pre-release home visit, and referrals to other jail-based programs.  The curriculum also includes sessions in the community (post-release) that focus on the following topics: drugs in your life; getting the information you need to stay free and healthy; and staying free and healthy for life.  Additional community activities include family meetings that are open to the young men’s parents and group lunch sessions.  REAL MEN is implemented in partnership with a community-based organization, and the young men are given the opportunity to participate in activities occurring through the community partner (including GED and high school programs, job training, drug treatment, health services, case management, and other post-release services including referrals). Those who complete the program receive $100.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Freudenberg, N., Ramaswamy, M., Daniels, J., Crum, M., Ompad, D.C., & Vlahov, D. (2010). Reducing drug use, human immunodeficiency virus risk, and recidivism among young men leaving jail: Evaluation of the REAL MEN re-entry program. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47, 448-455.

Evaluated population: The evaluated population included 552 young men in prison (New York City Department of Correction’s Rikers Island Detention Center) who were between 16- and 19-years old at program enrollment, were eligible for release within 12-months of program enrollment, and who did not have a psychiatric condition.  The mean age was at enrollment was 17.99 (at the follow-up, which occurred 12-months post-release, the mean age was 19.60).  More than half the sample was African American (56 percent), and 38 percent were Latino.

Approach: Following intake interviews, the young men were randomly assigned to the 30-hour REAL MEN program or to a control group (this group received a single jail-discharge planning session).  Of the sample, 277 were assigned to the intervention group and 275 were assigned to the control group.  Both those in the treatment group and those in the control group were referred to a community-based organization that serves young men upon re-entry and provides education, employment, and social services.

Baseline interviews collected information on demographic characteristics, education and employment histories, criminal justice involvement histories, health, substance use, sexual behavior, HIV knowledge, and attitudes about racial/ethnic and gender norms.  Follow-up interviews collected similar information and were conducted 12-months after release from jail.  Attrition was 28 percent, meaning the follow-up rate was 72 percent.

The primary outcomes of interest included: substance use (alcohol or drug dependence; hard drug use;  and daily marijuana use), sexual risk behavior (having three or more sex partners in the previous 90 days with whom oral, anal, or vaginal sex was performed; and risky sexual behavior, defined as using condoms less than half the time with a long-term partner, using condoms less than all the time with a casual partner, and/or being high on drugs or alcohol when having sex half of the time or more), criminal justice involvement (re-arrest; re-incarceration; number of days incarcerated in the past year; and engaging in problematic behavior in the past year), and enrollment or advancement in educational or vocational programs.

Results: At the 12-month follow-up, those in the REAL MEN group were less likely to report alcohol or drug dependence and less likely to report hard drug use.  The impact was even greater when program dosage was taken into account; those who attended four or more REAL MEN sessions were less likely to report alcohol or drug dependence and less likely to report hard drug use than those who attended fewer than four sessions.

There were no differences between treatment and control groups in sexual risk behaviors, criminal justice involvement, or enrollment or advancement in educational or vocational programs.  However, an analyses of those who received the REAL MEN intervention and who took advantage of the services provided by the community-based organization found that those who received the combination of services were less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than those who received the REAL MEN program or those who participated in the the community-bases services alone.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Daniels, J., Crum, M., Ramaswamy, M., & Freudenberg, N. (2009). Creating REAL MEN: Description of an intervention to reduce drug use, HIV risk and rearrest among young men returning to urban communities from jail. Health Promotion and Practice, 12(1), 44-54.

Freudenberg, N., Ramaswamy, M., Daniels, J., Crum, M., Ompad, D.C., & Vlahov, D. (2010). Reducing drug use, human immunodeficiency virus risk, and recidivism among young men leaving jail: Evaluation of the REAL MEN re-entry program. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47, 448-455.

KEYWORDS: Youth (16+), Juvenile Offenders, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Community-Based, Skills Training, Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, Alcohol Use, Sexual Activity, Condom and Contraceptive Use, Delinquency, Education, Employment/Earnings

Program information last updated on 10/16/12 

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