The Journal of Correctional Education 60(4) • December 2009
Substance Use and HIV Prevention for
Youth in Correctional Facilities
Michele Mouttapa, Ph.D.
Donnie W. Watson, Ph.D.
William J. McCuller, M.A.
Chris Reiber, Ph.D.
Winnie Tsai, B.S.
Evidence-based programs for substance use and HIV prevention (SUHIP) were adapted
for high-risk juveniles detained at 24-hour secure correctional facilities. In this pilot
study, comparisons were made between adolescents who received the SUHIP
intervention and a control group on changes in: (1) knowledge of HIV prevention
behaviors, (2) attitudes and beliefs about HIV, (3) attitudes toward condom use, (4)
rates of stimulant use, and (5) self-efficacy for being drug free. Assessments were
completed at baseline and two months subsequent to their release in the community.
The 48 participants who completed both assessments were predominately Latino and
African American, ages 14 to 19 years, and male (56%).
Results revealed that the SUHIP group, relative to the control group,
demonstrated: (1) greater increases in knowledge of HIV prevention behaviors, (2)
decreases in erroneous beliefs regarding HIV vulnerability and testing, (3) increased
ease in carrying and using condoms (4) lower stimulant use among girls, (5) increased
self-efficacy in avoiding drug and alcohol use. In addition, the SUHIP group
experienced greater improvements in attitudes about the school atmosphere, and
greater reductions in problem behaviors, fights, and trouble with the law. Incorporation
of evidence-based HIV and substance use-prevention programs in juvenile correctional
facilities is feasible and can yield positive outcomes for high-risk incarcerated male and
female juvenile offenders.
In 2004 alone, over 600,000 adolescents in the United States were adjudicated
in the juvenile justice system (Stahl, Finnegan, & Kang, 2007). Approximately