The main challenge is that juvenile justice policies are not based on a simple, rational assessment of costs and effectiveness, or even on the basic concept of justice. Policy choices are affected by fear and emotion, as well as political/electoral competition, economic self-interest of governments and service providers, and the enduring battle between social classes as to who defines the origins and solutions to social problems.
... Americans have “a deep cultural instinct to punish as a way of changing behavior,” says Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “And most people making decisions about policy are thinking about someone else's kid,” not their own.
“There’s never a good reason to send kids away,” said Dr. Jeffrey A. Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It could be about convenience, fear, politics or a way of adding jobs to outlying areas where there aren’t enough jobs. But it’s never about public safety.”
Jeffrey Butts, a director of research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, co-wrote an ongoing analysis of Cure Violence’s presence in high-crime New York City neighborhoods and found that homicide rates are on a downward trend in three areas that employed the interrupters in Brooklyn and in northern Manhattan. “They can form relationships in high-violence communities that police, social workers and ministers simply can’t,” Butts said.
The model is most succinctly explained in a recent brief written by Dr. Jeffrey Butts, a noted juvenile justice researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a leading proponent of PYJ: “The PYJ Model suggests that youth justice systems should focus on youths’ acquisition of two core developmental assets: learning/doing and attaching/belonging. These two assets should be acquired and experienced by every youth within six distinct domains: work, education, relationships, community, health and creativity.”
Jeffrey Butts, the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, said though being evidence-based does not guarantee good results, many act as if it does.
Scared straight programs are also fall in line with “tough on crime” mentality in the justice system, said Jeffrey Butts, director of research and evaluation at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and expert on criminal behavior. “It’s a strong thing in America that we believe that being tough on people, punishing people, coercing them – basically forcing them to behave the way we want them to behave – it will somehow work,” he said.
Equating the deepest end of juvenile justice with “the system” distorts the significance of whatever problems affect the youth in secure care. Young people in secure facilities represent a small proportion of the entire youthful offender population.
Juvenile justice expert Jeffrey Butts said he's not surprised that JJIE's analysis found the similar recidivism rates. "It's a finding I would predict in all states," he said.
In part, that's because society holds a false expectation about juvenile lockups, "a fantasy that incarceration is treatment," said Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "We lock them up and then we convince ourselves it's good for the kids too."