John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Chicago IL)
“A growing number of juvenile justice experts are suggesting a new, potentially more effective approach to reducing recidivism: first identify a youth’s risk of re-offending; then match services to his or her specific risk factors and responsiveness to specific types of interventions. This study examined the implementation of risk/needs assessment tools in six juvenile probation offices in two states, and what effects it had on the practices of the probation officers” (p. 1). Sections of this brief are: background; dynamic risk factors for delinquency; the implementation study; whether probation officers conduct risk/needs assessments reliably; whether the use of risk assessment changes juvenile probation officers’ practices and perceptions of risk; whether the use of risk assessment in juvenile probation lead to changes in the way youth are handled; use of assessments in decision-making by juvenile probation officers; change in post-adjudication, out-of-home placement rates; whether the use of risk assessment changes recidivism; why sound implementation of risk assessment is important; implications for policy and practice. The use of assessments results in suitable dispositions, often at lower levels of restriction. The result is better utilization of resources for high-risk youth with no increase in re-offending rates.
"Under increasing pressure to demonstrate effectiveness and do more with less, many governments are expanding their use of evidence-based programs—those shown in rigorous evaluations to be effective. Committing to such proven programs can help governments strengthen efficiency and accountability and achieve better outcomes for residents" (p. 1). This article explains how various states have used evidence-based practices (EBPs) in their policymaking. Sections of this brief cover: what evidence-based policymaking is; five types of laws that uphold evidence-based programs--require agencies to inventory and categorize funded programs by their evidence of effectiveness; provide incentives for the use of evidence- and research-based programs; restrict funding of programs shown to be ineffective; require the use of evidence- or research-based programs; and dedicate funding to evidence- or research-based programs; and key considerations.
“This report examines Pew’s findings on state prison health care spending and explores the factors driving costs higher. It also illustrates a variety of promising approaches that states are taking to address these challenges … These examples offer important lessons as policymakers seek the best ways to make their correctional health care systems effective and affordable” (p. 4). Sections of this publication include: overview; the challenge for the states—location, staffing, and inmate transportation, a legal standard for care, prevalence of metal illness and disease, and the growth in the number of older inmates and their associated higher costs; sates responses to growing costs—telehealth technologies, advances in outsourcing of care, Medicaid financing, and the paroling of elderly and/or ill inmates.
"To understand to what extent states currently track recidivism data for youth involved in the juvenile justice system and use that information to inform policy and funding decisions, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project, and the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators surveyed juvenile correctional agencies in all 50 states. This issue brief highlights the key findings of the survey and provides state and local policymakers with five recommendations for improving their approach to the measurement, analysis, collection, reporting, and use of recidivism data for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. In addition, examples are provided of how select states have translated these recommendations into policy and practice" (p. 1).
"Under the landmark 1976 Estelle v. Gamble decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that prisoners have a constitutional right to adequate medical attention and concluded that the Eighth Amendment is violated when corrections officials display “deliberate indifference” to an inmate’s medical needs. The manner in which states manage prison health care services that meet these legal requirements affects not only inmates’ health, but also the public’s health and safety and taxpayers’ total corrections bill. Effectively treating inmates’ physical and mental illnesses, including substance use disorders, improves their well-being and can reduce the likelihood that they will commit new crimes or violate probation once released" (p. 1). Sections included in this report are: overview; spending trends; distribution of spending; spending drivers; cost-containment strategies; and conclusion. Also provided are the following report charts: Total Prison Health Care Spending Grew; Peaked in 34 States Before 2011; Components of Prison Health Care Spending; State and Federal Prisoners 55 and Older Increased by 204%; Share of Older Inmates in State Prisons Varied; Per-inmate Spending Higher in States with Older Inmate Populations. Correctional health care spending rose 13%. Due to the decrease in prison populations, per-inmate costs increased 10%. The statewide growth in the elderly inmate population caused those states with more senior inmates (per total inmate population) to have higher per-inmate costs.
“In the past decade, the Supreme Court has transformed the constitutional landscape of juvenile crime regulation. In three strongly worded opinions, the Court held that imposing harsh criminal sentences on juvenile offenders violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In combination, these cases create a special status for juveniles under Eighth Amendment doctrine as a category of offenders whose culpability is mitigated by their youth and immaturity, even for the most serious offenses. The Court also emphasized that juveniles are more likely to reform than adult offenders, and that most should be given a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that they have done so. In short, because of young offenders’ developmental immaturity, harsh sentences that may be suitable for adult criminals are seldom appropriate for juveniles. These opinions announce a powerful constitutional principle—that “children are different” for purposes of criminal punishment … This report addresses the key issues facing courts and legislatures under this new constitutional regime, and provides guidance based on the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment analysis and on the principles the Court has articulated” (p. 1). The accompanying briefs to the report are: “Overview Brief: The U.S. Supreme Court and the Transformation of Juvenile Sentencing”, “Juvenile Sentencing in A Developmental Framework: The Role of the Courts”, and “Practitioner Brief: Applying a Developmental Framework to Juvenile Sentencing—What Forensic Experts and Attorneys Should Know” all three by Scott, Grisso, Levick, and Steinberg.