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.Continue reading Testimony to New York City Council

City Limits—Program Keeping Convicted Youths Closer to Home Enjoys Success, Faces Cuts

That longstanding approach was problematic at best, according to Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College. “We’re setting ourselves up for failure when we take a young person who is 14- or 15-years-old, send them hours away from their family, and break all their ties to their communities,” he says.Continue reading City Limits—Program Keeping Convicted Youths Closer to Home Enjoys Success, Faces Cuts

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

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.Continue reading Associated Press—Wisconsin Juvenile Prisons Struggle to Change Course

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.”Continue reading The Atlantic—Treating Young Offenders Like Adults Is Bad Parenting

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.Continue reading Discussing Evidence-Based Policy and Practice

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.”Continue reading Baltimore Sun—New Curfew Takes Effect Friday