This article, A Home Remedy for Juvenile Offenders, strikes me as relevant to our earlier discussion on poverty and the brain. While I think the emphasis on “therapy” places too much weight on psychology and the individual, nonetheless I admire the overall idea, as related here:
The basic idea is to reach and help borderline youths at a moment of crisis, and turn them away from a more serious criminal path. By treating them in the context of their families and environments rather than in isolation, officials found that recidivism was usually less than half that of residential correction programs. The city says that it hopes its program will be as successful, but that it will take many years before it can be sure. Still, at roughly $17,000 per child, such in-home therapy programs cost a fraction of the annual expense of keeping a child in secure detention, which can be $140,000 to $200,000.
My hope is that anthropology can and will add to this sort of work. Still, I am not sure anthropology has developed enough as an applied science where it can point to clear and specific ways to make a difference in these social and material environments (please comment if you do have some specific ideas or programs). So the recognition of individual differences (including moments of crisis), the importance of life pathways, and the focus on social context strike me as quite a good start.