Reducing drug use, human immunodeficiency virus risk, and recidivism among young men leaving jail: Evaluation of the real men re-entry program

Nicholas Freudenberg, Megha Ramaswamy, Jessie Daniels, Martha Crum, Danielle C. Ompad, David Vlahov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study assesses the impact of REAL MEN (Returning Educated African-American and Latino Men to Enriched Neighborhoods), an intervention designed to reduce drug use, risky sexual behavior and criminal activity among 16-18-year-old males leaving New York City jails. Methods: Participants (N = 552) were recruited in city jails and randomly assigned to receive an intensive 30-hour jail/community-based intervention or a single jail-based discharge planning session. All participants were also referred to optional services at a community-based organization (CBO). One year after release from jail, 397 (72%) participants completed a follow-up interview. Logistic and ordinary least squares regression was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention on drug use, risky sexual behavior, criminal justice involvement, and school/work involvement post release. Results: Assignment to REAL MEN and, independently, use of CBO services, significantly reduced the odds of substance dependence (odds ratio [OR] = .52, p ≤ .05; OR = .41, p ≤ .05, respectively) 1 year after release. Those assigned to the intervention spent 29 fewer days in jail compared with the comparison 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). Conclusions: Jail and community services reduced drug dependence 1 year after release and the number of days spent in jail after the index arrest. 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-455
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug abuse
  • Incarcerated youth
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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