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Better Solutions for Youth with Mental Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System

“[W]henever safe and appropriate, youth with mental health needs should be prevented from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place. For youth who do enter the system, a first option should be to refer them to effective treatment within the community. For those few who require placement, it is important to ensure that they have access to effective services while in care to help them re-enter society successfully” (p. 1). This paper explains how this can be done. Topics discussed include: the widespread mental health challenges associated with justice-involved youth; new scientific discoveries that can help these youth; the ways in which two states are taking the lead in helping these juveniles-Louisiana and Connecticut; and how more communities can use these strategies for youth with mental health needs involved with the juvenile justice system.