Violence reduction strategies vary in their emphasis on individual characteristics versus structural incentives. Train stations do as well.
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.
On December 5, 2018, the Department of Justice officially abolished its Science Advisory Board (SAB) for the Office of Justice Programs.
Recently, I offered to help a young man who was about to take his first flight. I knew he would be traveling alone, so I thought I could prepare him for the experience since I've been flying commercial airlines for more than 40 years.
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.
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?
No credible study ever located the source of the crime drop in the power of prosecutors to send youth to adult courts and adult prisons. There is just no compelling evidence to suggest that prosecutors may rightfully claim the credit for falling rates of violent youth crime. Not even in Florida.
Despite a sustained effort to study these policies over the last two decades, researchers have not found that increasing prosecutorial power reduces crime, and the practice of putting young people in the adult criminal justice system is not only ineffective, it has many negative side effects.
Researching the effectiveness of social policies is like pointing a flashlight inside a dark room. You can can only see what passes through the beam of light.
All researchers want their studies to have an impact on policy and practice, but few do. It's often the researcher's own fault -- at least in part. Here are some basic strategies for increasing the chances that your research will have an effect.
Adolescence does not end with a single birthday and it lasts well beyond the point of legal adulthood. Our science-blind courts have yet to accept this fact.
Jeffrey Butts answers 20 key questions about the U.S. juvenile justice system.