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

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. Continue reading Process Evaluation of the Chicago Juvenile Intervention and Support Center

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. Continue reading Positive Youth Justice

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.” Continue reading Cost-benefit Analysis of Reclaiming Futures

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. Continue reading Delays in Youth Justice

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. Continue reading Organizing for Outcomes

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

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. Continue reading Violent Crime in 100 U.S. Cities

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. Continue reading Building on Strength

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. Continue reading Arresting Children: Examining Recent Trends in Preteen Crime

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. Continue reading Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparity in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

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. Continue reading A Sensible Model for Juvenile Justice

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. Continue reading Agency Relations