New York Times — A 7-Year-Old Was Accused of Rape. Is Arresting Him the Answer?

There appears to be little, if any, organized opposition to raising the age of delinquency. But those who resist say doing so would hamstring the legal system, according to Jeffrey A. Butts, the director of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center. In rare cases involving a particularly dangerous child, he said, incarceration may prevent them from being a risk to others.

New York Public Radio– The Docket: The Tessa Majors Case and the State of New York’s Juvenile Justice System

The Tessa Majors case is a test for New York's recently-enacted Raise The Age law, which barred the state from automatically prosecuting 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. Jeffrey Butts, who leads John Jay College's Research and Evaluation Center, told Floyd that this is the exact kind of case that the law's critics could use as leverage to reverse it.

Easily Overstated

Policymakers, advocates, and even some researchers claim that youth confinement rates across the United States dropped in recent years due to changes in policy and practice. Such claims remain unproven, but voters and elected officials are inclined to accept them as factual because they are offered by reputable agencies and repeated in news media sources. Without reliable evidence, however, the notion that state-level youth confinement rates fall primarily in response to progressive policy reforms is merely appealing rhetoric.

Albany Times Union — Reason for Drop in Youth Arrests Hard to Pin Down

Over the last five years the number of police stops and arrests involving Capital Region youths has fallen more than 45 percent, according to state data. It's a stunning drop -- but one without a clear single reason, say law enforcement and juvenile justice system professionals. Several factors are likely in play, including an overall drop in crime in the country, changes in the drug trade, increased use of alternatives to incarceration and changes in youth culture, said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, tracking trends, and something definitely feels different than it did 20 years ago,” Butts said.

Bangor Daily News — Maine Kids are Actually Bringing Fewer Weapons to School

The decline in possession of weapons at school and in the prevalence of weapon-related threats in schools also holds true for overall juvenile crime, according to Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. “One popular theory is that the drug trade was much more dangerous 30 years ago. Kids that lived in neighborhoods with active drug sales going on often felt that they needed to have a gun on them to protect themselves,” he said. “The daily threat from street-corner drug sales has gone way down.”

Miami Herald—Lockup guard slugged a skinny kid. Prosecutors say it’s justified. Here’s the video.

An expert in juvenile justice policy and research said that prosecutors' justification for declining to press charges suggests an office-wide bias in favor of officers. "The memorandum from the state attorney uses language revealing the intent of the office, which is to minimize the violent nature of the attack," said Jeffrey Butts, who is director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Testimony to New York City Council

New York State’s Raise the Age legislation is an important opportunity to improve public safety, but it is just that – an opportunity. The success of Raise the Age depends on the efforts of every partner in the larger justice system, from police, to prosecutors, probation agencies, and the broad network of service providers who work with youth to keep them from becoming more deeply involved in the justice system.

Miami Herald—Florida Juvenile Justice said it Would Weed out Bad Hires. How Did This Guy Slip Through?

“It’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ culture with some of the people they have managing these facilities,” added Butts, who has worked with policymakers in 28 states, largely on youth justice. “With strong kids controlling the weak kids — and the staff controlling the strong kids. “You are using violence to try to teach kids not to use violence.”

Associated Press—Wisconsin Juvenile Prisons Struggle to Change Course

Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, said the Wisconsin prisons’ problems come from poor management. Staff who argue they need things like pepper spray, solitary confinement and shackles are saying “our culture within the facility has become so corrupted by violence we have no other options,” he said. The methods “are not necessary, they don’t work and they just lead to more violence,” said Butts, who has researched youth justice for nearly three decades.

The Atlantic—Treating Young Offenders Like Adults Is Bad Parenting

“No one has ever been able to find direct, defensible evidence that the behavior of the system regarding juvenile versus adult jurisdiction plays a direct role in overall crime trends,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center. “Crime trends behave the way they behave, and they have a lot more to do with general conditions in the community and everything else. If you’re working in the system, you start developing the belief that you are in control of these trends. Whenever people look at it seriously, it’s never true.”

Interview with the International Juvenile Justice Observatory

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.

Discussing Evidence-Based Policy and Practice

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org) hosted a Google Hangout (online live chat) between the director of the R&E Center, Jeffrey Butts, and Cynthia Lum from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University. The conversation covered a number of topics, including the nature of evidence-based practices, how programs or practices become evidence-based, and the forces that can make the connections between evidence and practice problematic.

Baltimore Sun—New Curfew Takes Effect Friday

Criminal Justice, said the argument that a curfew is necessary to protect children is "convenient" but not rooted in fact. Governments have child welfare laws for safety, he said, and officers can intervene when necessary without needing a curfew law to step in. Butts said Baltimore's law is not only strict, but confusing because of the way it changes based on a child's age and the time of year. "It's more coverage than I have seen most cities do," Butts said. "It sounds not only comprehensive but complicated, which means kids will lose track of it."

Violent Youth Crime Plummets to a 30-year Low

Violent crime arrests involving under-18 youth dropped considerably since 2008. The violent youth  arrest rate peaked in 1994, before falling through 2004. Violent arrests began to grow after 2004, however, reaching a rate of nearly 300 per 100,000 10-17 year-olds between 2006 and 2008. Between 2008 and 2011, the violent youth arrest rate fell sharply once again, plunging from approximately 300 to 200 arrests per 100,000 youth. In 2011, the violent crime arrest rate was 30 percent lower than it had been just three years earlier in 2008.

Assessing “Close to Home” in New York City

The Research and Evaluation Center investigated the feasibility, implementation, and impact of a youth justice realignment effort in New York State. Known as Close to Home, the initiative diverted young offenders from state facilities and shifted interventions to community-based programs under the direct or indirect management of local government. Over the past two decades, realignment has attracted growing attention in New York and elsewhere due to crowded facilities, strained budgets, and the persistent failure of the justice system to reduce recidivism.