Delays in Youth Justice

The study draws on data from the National Juvenile Court Data Archive and from case studies of three juvenile courts in the Midwestern U.S. that successfully managed delays in processing youth through the juvenile justice system. The three sites employed different, tailored approaches to addressing delays. A commitment to case management and routine and shared communication were themes the sites had in common.

Denormalizing Violence

Cure Violence utilizes a public health approach. It considers gun violence to be analogous to a communicable disease that passes from person to person when left untreated. According to the logic of Cure Violence, gun violence is most effectively reduced by working to change the behavior of individuals at risk to participate in gun violence, but simultaneously "denormalizing” violence by changing the community norms that support and perpetuate gun violence. 

Line Drawing

This report examines the relationship of jurisdictional age to serious crime and it reviews the experiences of states that have previously changed their jurisdictional age laws. Next, the report addresses the cost considerations involved in these policy changes and it describes the types of detailed cost-benefit analyses that New York should undertake to project their effects on shifting court caseloads and the number of youth likely to be placed in various supervision programs and placement settings.

Teaming up for Safer Cities

In  five communities, survey respondents report a number of potentially valuable improvements, and the results imply that the cities involved in the National Forum may be increasing opportunities for youth and improving the extent to which violence prevention approaches draw upon the perspectives and expertise of a broad range of community members. There are also indications that some cities are developing better overall capacity to reduce youth violence, and that local perceptions of law enforcement efficacy may be improving.

Interim Report 1: National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention

This first report from the Implementation Assessment of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention includes information collected through interviews and site visits to each participating city and from online surveys of individuals involved in each city's youth violence prevention network. The first round of surveys was administered beginning in June 2011, and the second was launched in February 2012. This report describes the changes perceived by respondents during the first eight months of implementation.

Resolution, Reinvestment, and Realignment: Three Strategies for Changing Juvenile Justice

The scale of incarceration is not simply a reaction to crime. It is a policy choice. Some lawmakers invest heavily in youth confinement facilities. In their jurisdictions, incarceration is a key component of the youth justice system. Other lawmakers invest more in community-based programs. In their view, costly confinement should be reserved for chronic and seriously violent offenders. These choices are critical for budgets and for safety.

Process Evaluation of the Chicago Juvenile Intervention and Support Center

Researchers investigated the operations of a pre-court diversion program that provides services and supports to “station adjusted” (i.e., informally handled) youthful offenders after they have come into contact with the Chicago Police Department but before they have been formally arrested and referred to the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department. The purpose of the study was to determine the suitability of the program for evaluation and to work with staff to enact any procedural modifications that may be needed to facilitate future evaluation activities.

Positive Youth Justice

Positive youth development could be an effective framework for designing general interventions for young offenders. Such a framework would encourage youth justice systems to focus on protective factors as well as risk factors, strengths as well as problems, and broader efforts to facilitate successful transitions to adulthood for justice-involved youth. The positive youth development approach supports youth in making successful transitions from adolescence to early adulthood by encouraging young people to develop useful skills and competencies, and to build stronger connections with pro-social peers, families, and communities). Young people engaged with trustworthy adults and peers in the pursuit of meaningful activities and the acquisition of new skills are more likely to build the developmental assets needed for a positive adulthood.

Cost-benefit Analysis of Reclaiming Futures

The findings of the national evaluation of Reclaiming Futures suggest that the 10 communities involved in the pilot phase of the initiative did effectively change the operations of their service-delivery systems.The extent of these changes varied, but the evaluation results show that the systems for responding to justiceinvolved youth in most of the communities improved over time.The critical question for this study is about a cost-benefit threshold. If we infer the extent of individual behavior change from the size and direction of reported system change, and if we can estimate the number youth affected by such change, are the economic benefits of those changes sufficient to justify the costs of the reform initiative? ... According to this study, the answer is “yes.”

Delays in Youth Justice

Results from a project funded by the National Institute of Justice. As juvenile and family courts work to improve the timeliness of their services and sanctions, and to share what they learn with others, they need better information about the causes and consequences of delay, sound methods for controlling unwanted delay, and flexible techniques for tracking case processing time. Chapin Hall worked in collaboration with the National Center for Juvenile Justice to analyze recent patterns in delinquency case processing time and review the methods used by juvenile courts to monitor and improve their timeliness.

Organizing for Outcomes

Based upon four independent evaluations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Reclaiming Futures initiative appears to have been successful in inspiring important changes in the juvenile justice and substance abuse treatment systems of New Hampshire, Chicago, Santa Cruz, and Seattle. In these communities, more youth received effective screening and assessment after the implementation of Reclaiming Futures. Youth tended to move more quickly through the screening and assessment process, and they participated in more treatment programs and received more support services, including mentoring and various forms of prosocial activities.

Past, Present, and Future of Juvenile Justice: Assessing the Policy Options (APO)

This report presents the results of research that examined changing trends in juvenile justice legislation and surveyed juvenile justice professionals across the nation to measure their impressions of recent juvenile justice policy reforms. Researchers learned there is considerable consensus among diverse practitioner groups, with survey respondents viewing rehabilitative programs as more effective than punitive ones – a perspective consistent with recent legislative trends. Together, these data suggest the policy pendulum is swinging toward more progressive measures after years of "get tough" reforms.

Violent Crime in 100 U.S. Cities

Recent increases in violent crime are small compared with the scale of violence seen in recent decades. America’s long period of falling crime may have ended, but it is not accurate to characterize recent trends as a new wave of widespread violence or as the beginning of an irreversible trend. Most urban Americans still appear to be enjoying the benefits of the violent crime decline that occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Building on Strength

Practitioners are attempting to build juvenile justice interventions with strength-based, positive youth development principles. Previous researchers have not adequately documented how such reforms take place, let alone whether they produce effective results for youth, families, and communities. This study suggests that it is possible to implement these approaches in juvenile justice settings, but more research is needed to substantiate their effects.

Arresting Children: Examining Recent Trends in Preteen Crime

This analysis shows that juvenile offenders today are not significantly younger than were juvenile offenders in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the rate and severity of juvenile crime has fluctuated in recent decades, especially before and after the dramatic wave of  youth violence that peaked in 1994, the behavior of preteen offenders generally follows the pattern exhibited by older youth. With few exceptions, the age profile of juvenile offenders has not changed substantially in the past 20 to 25 years.

Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparity in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

This paper aims to stimulate discussion within the child welfare and juvenile justice fields about the role of race and ethnicity in both systems. Over time,the nomenclature used to describe disproportionality and disparity has evolved, but it is not always clear how key concepts relate to one another, especially when the discussion involves both systems simultaneously. The paper starts by exploring the language used to describe the extent of racial and ethnic differences in the involvement of children in the two systems, and then offers a common language that is intended to clarify the meaning of the terms so that a more consistent conversation is possible.

A Sensible Model for Juvenile Justice

Policies and practices in the juvenile justice system are often developed in reverse. Problems are remodeled to fit existing solutions. Too often, interventions that are appropriate for particular subgroups of juvenile offenders — those charged with serious and violent crimes or those afflicted with serious drug problems and mental disorders — are allowed to become the model for all youth.

Agency Relations

As part of the national evaluation of Reclaiming Futures, researchers conducted a network analysis of organizational relationships in eight communities. As a group, the eight Reclaiming Futures communities improved their network performance during the Reclaiming Futures initiative. If all positive network statistics are added together, the eight communities generated nineteen positive statistics in 2004, twenty-four positive statistics in 2005, and twenty-six positive statistics in 2006. This general trend, however, obscures many differences between communities.

Focusing Juvenile Justice on Positive Youth Development

Many policies and programs are plagued by what criminologists such as Terance Miethe and Robert Meier call “psychological reductionism,” or the tendency to view the causes and solutions to social problems in strictly psychological terms. Psychological reductionism in juvenile justice means that intervention programs focus on youth whose criminal behavior is believed to arise from psychological and emotional troubles. Less attention is paid to designing and evaluating interventions for youth who commit crimes for other reasons, such as a desire for social status, a fear for their personal safety, economic frustrations, negative peer associations, defiance of authority, and even simple adolescent thrill seeking.

The Economics of Juvenile Jurisdiction

Arguments about the value of juvenile justice versus criminal justice traditionally focus on legal principles, adolescent development, and the relative effects of prevention and punishment. This paper suggests adding a cost-benefit approach to the debate. Every state currently has a separate justice system for juveniles, but what could happen if lawmakers made different choices about the types of youth that should be handled in that system? What would be the economic consequences of restricting (or expanding) use of the juvenile justice system?

Organizing Data & People for Juvenile Justice Population Forecasts

Efforts to anticipate future demands for juvenile justice facilities and services are generally known as forecasting. A forecasting process typically begins with an analysis of demographics, juvenile crime, and juvenile justice caseloads. This paper describes some of the preparations necessary to use the Urban Institute’s “Juvenile Forecaster” model [no longer available].

Juvenile Crime in Washington, DC

If the adult justice system is the answer to youth violence, does this mean that violent crime by adults has been going down? This policy brief examines this issue by reviewing the latest data on crime and violence in the city of Washington and the nation. This analysis suggests that the tone of juvenile justice debate in Washington, D.C. is overly narrow. Recent incidents of youth violence in the city do not yet represent a significant trend, and violence by adults is still far more pervasive and more deadly.