A seminar with the Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Speakers explored juvenile diversion practices and policies, their costs, and benefits. Watch the entire seminar. Review the agenda. https://youtu.be/onKL6bgq9Fc
Youth justice is a challenging environment in which to implement a rigorous PYD approach. The insights and lessons of developmental science do not translate easily into the day-to-day tasks of youth justice systems, which often focus on control and compliance. Youth justice practitioners require assistance as they apply developmental principles. The Positive Youth Justice (PYJ) Model was developed to meet this challenge. It provides a simple framework for designing PYD-compatible interventions for justice-involved young people and for supporting youth justice reforms.
The 1995-2010 drop in violent crime ranged from –50% to –74% in these states, but the size of the decline was not related to the use of transfer. Florida transfers more youth than any other state, but its violent crime drop (–57%) was in the middle of the range. In states that use transfer much less often, total violent crime fell almost as much (California and Washington) or far more (Ohio) than it did in Florida.
The scale of incarceration is not simply a reaction to crime. It is a policy choice. Some lawmakers invest heavily in youth confinement facilities. In their jurisdictions, incarceration is a key component of the youth justice system. Other lawmakers invest more in community-based programs. In their view, costly confinement should be reserved for chronic and seriously violent offenders. These choices are critical for budgets and for safety.
With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice extended its program of research and technical assistance on juvenile justice realignment, or efforts to shift programs and resources for young offenders away from centralized, state-run facilities and into locally-operated, community-based, and non-residential programs.
The concept of realignment, however, is much older than 20 years. The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice reviewed the state of the art in justice realignment. Researchers compiled the literature on realignment and other related initiatives and used the results to report on the best approaches to practice and policy.
Reducing youth crime is a complicated business, and I think we all know that it takes more than punishment. If it were possible to stop crime simply by adopting policies that sound tough and by advocating more use of secure confinement, we would have succeeded by now. That strategy has been tried enough times for us to know whether it works. Decades of research tell us that it does not work.
The diverse mix of policies and practices introduced in recent years raises important questions about the posture of juvenile justice today. Most scholars agree that decades of "get-tough" reforms diminished the influence of the juvenile court. Many contend that these changes rendered the criminal (adult) and juvenile justice systems largely indistinguishable. Others question these claims and suggest that rehabilitation remains a critical goal for juvenile justice professionals.
Presented to the Annual Forum of the National Juvenile Justice Network. July 2010. New Orleans, LA