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NJJN Policy Update

  • Doing It Right: Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice

    “The use of risk assessment instruments in juvenile justice systems across the country is growing rapidly. Advocates should be aware of how they can be used most effectively to avoid unnecessary incarceration and improve case planning for youth” (p. 4). This fact sheet explains: what a risk assessment tool is; the need to use them; how to choose the right risk assessment instrument; how to implement carefully following your choice; and making sure to gather and analyze data regarding the tool. For more information regarding risk assessment of juveniles, be sure to refer to “Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation” by the Models for Change Initiative (NIC accession number 027092).

  • Arrested Development: Confinement Can Negatively Affect Youth Maturation

    Anyone working with juvenile offenders should read this. It reviews a recent study regarding the impact of incarceration on the development of a juvenile’s psychosocial maturity--the combined abilities of impulse control (temperance), perspective (especially seeing from different points of view), and responsibility. Sections of this brief cover: general information about this study; research findings showing that incarceration of juveniles provides “no bang for our buck”-that placing youth in secure facilities slows their maturation, negative institutional settings harms youth’s maturation, and why short term slowing of maturation should be important to us; and policy implications. “The study finds statistically significant, short-term declines in psychosocial maturity for youth incarcerated in a secure facility. This period of lower maturity level means that youth may be more impulsive and susceptible to negative peer influence upon release, placing them at higher risk for re-arrest” (p. 1).

  • Unchain the Children: Policy Opportunities to End the Shackling of Youth in Court

    "This policy update explores the reasons why states should end the indiscriminate shackling of youth and highlights the strategies states and localities have successfully used to end this damaging practice" (p. 1). Sections cover: what the problem is with shackling of children-it can cause physical and psychological harm, it disproportionately affects children of color, it is inconsistent with the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system, it harms a juvenile's Constitutional rights, and its routine use on all youth appearing in court is unnecessary for public safety; and shifting policy to unshackle youth-the use of statute, court rule-making authority, or litigation.