How to Survive Your Research Partner

Good researchers want to know a lot about the program or policy they are evaluating before expressing a preference for a particular research design. If your research partner tries to convince you to support a particular evaluation design before you are sure they understand your situation and your information needs, you are probably working with someone in sales, not research. Get a new partner.

It’s Not About the Art; It’s About the Artist

We actually need young people who are bold, willing to challenge conventional thinking, and to break rules, but we also need them to respect others, to rely on logic rather than force, and to appreciate the corrosive effects of violence and exploitation. In short, our communities need powerful and creative young people who want to improve us and not simply to fight us. These should seem like obvious concepts to anyone working around the youth justice system, but it is often surprisingly difficult to implement them in practice.

The Recidivism Trap

Rather than asking “what’s the recidivism rate?” we should ask an entirely different set of questions about justice interventions. Are we really helping people convicted of crimes to form better relationships with their families and their law-abiding friends? Are we helping them to advance their educational goals? Are they more likely to develop the skills and abilities required for stable employment? Are we helping them to respect others and to participate positively in the civic and cultural life of their communities?

NIJ Meeting Minutes

Dr. Jeffrey Butts said that evaluation should play a large role in policy and practice. Human development is not finished at some “magic birthday.” Prosecutors and judges need to know that extending the developmental frame beyond age 18 will not endanger them politically and public safety will not be harmed


If our goal is to mitigate whatever factors are most likely to draw young people into contact with the justice system, the interventions we provide should reflect what we know about adolescents and the conditions facing young people in the United States today.

JJIE—Interpreting the Juvenile Incarceration Drop

Even if we observe a number of instances when state reforms are followed by lower incarceration, we have to test whether the causal hypothesis holds up in the absence of reform? If we lined up all the states according to whether they had enacted meaningful reforms in their juvenile justice systems, would their incarceration trends line up in the same way, with high reform states showing more decline and low reform states showing less? Moreover, does the relationship persist over time and under varying circumstances?

Stuff I wish journalists would NOT do when covering juvenile crime and juvenile justice …

by Jeffrey A. Butts May 16, 2015 1. use the word “jail” as a synonym for juvenile incarceration, or use the word “detention” as a synonym for all forms of juvenile incarceration 2. use the words “juvenile justice system” when what they mean is juvenile corrections or incarceration facilities 3. assume that because someone says … Continue reading Stuff I wish journalists would NOT do when covering juvenile crime and juvenile justice …