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Juvenile justice

“The goal of this project was to examine the effectiveness of three distinct strategies (revision of a detention index, a procedural change in review of detention decisions, and a monitoring system of detained youth) created by Maricopa County Juvenile Probation to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) and the number of youth subject to detention in the County” (p. i). It appears that a combination of the three is the most effective way to reduce sentencing disparity and juvenile detention populations. In order to succeed, agencies must: clearly spell out what they intend to do and let all the staff know; continually evaluate the agency’s efforts and report those results to the staff; and be willing to change the process when it is needed.

An Impact Evaluation of Three Strategies Created to Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact and the Detention Population: Final Report Cover

This report evaluates the New York City-based Arches Transformative Mentoring program, finding that participation in the program reduces one-year felony reconviction by over two-thirds, and reduces two-year felony reconviction by over half, with especially profound impacts for the youngest program participants. The program's evidence-based curriculum is completed over a 6-12-month period and delivered in a group setting by "credible messengers," direct service professionals with backgrounds similar to the populations they serve.

A 9th grader charged with assault for a spitball. A 12 year old sentenced to life in prison. These are the types of cases that Elizabeth Cauffman has focused her career on. She asks the fundamental question: are adolescents different from adults in ways that require different treatment under the law? In her talk, Elizabeth discusses how we can approach this question in a matter that is fair within our society.

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).

Arrested Development: Confinement Can Negatively Affect Youth Maturation Cover

In 2012, Georgia passed comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation. The reforms restructured offense classifications and sentencing policies for drug and property offenses with the goal of tailoring justice system responses to the severity of the offense committed. This brief analyzes trends in commitments, sentence length, and time served for offense categories affected by the reforms. Commitments to prison for these offenses declined 13 percent, and probation commitments fell 9 percent. Average sentence length for most affected offenses fell following reforms, and time served in prison and on probation began to decline as well.

In 2010, South Carolina passed the Sentencing Reform Act, enacting comprehensive criminal justice reforms. One key reform encouraged the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services to employ administration responses to parole and probation violations, rather than sending people to prison. This brief finds that, following these reforms, use of administrative responses increased. Reform implementation was associated with a decline in recidivism; people beginning supervision after the reforms were 33 percent less likely to be incarcerated after one year compared with pre-reform cohorts. Still, implementation of these reforms was impeded by several challenges, including delays, data limitations, and funding roadblocks.

“Public safety is compromised when youth leaving out-of-home placements are not afforded necessary supportive services upon reentering their communities and are therefore at great risk to recidivate into criminal behavior” (p. 5). This report provides guidance and recommendations for achieving successful reentry services and programs. Sections following an executive summary are: introduction; characteristics of reentry youth; collateral consequences associated with out-of-home placement; essential components of youth reentry services; effective outcomes for youth reentry; federal support for reentry in the child welfare system; principles for effective youth reentry; and recommendations for federal leadership in youth reentry.

Back on Track: Supporting Youth Reentry from Out-of-Home Placement to the Community Cover

"As broader acceptance of recent findings in the field of adolescent development has opened the way for change, juvenile justice policymakers, stakeholders, practitioners, and advocates across the country have not been slow to champion numerous innovations in policy and practice, generating remarkable momentum for reform. This momentum can be leveraged to change policy in five areas where current practice is fundamentally incompatible with healthy adolescent development … This document seeks to concisely frame these policies in light of the research on adolescent development, and thereby aid the juvenile justice reform field in taking strategic action to create a developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system that keeps everyone safer" (p. 4). Sections of this report cover: what we know about adolescent development and juvenile justice interventions—research findings showing that juveniles are different, fairness demands a new approach to youth offending, a developmental approach makes communities safer, and treating youth differently costs less; four recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings stating youth must be treated differently than adults; four lessons for juvenile justice policymakers from the National Research Council; five opportunities for developmentally appropriate policy change with descriptions of current practice, the developmental perspective, and the characteristics of a model system—prosecution of youth in the adult criminal system, solitary confinement, safeguarding confidentiality, registries for youth who commit sex offense, and courtroom shackling; and towards an age-appropriate justice system for young people.

Because Kids are Different: Five Opportunities for Reforming the Juvenile Justice System Cover

“During the past six years, Texas overhauled its juvenile corrections system, enacting a series of reforms that led to a significant reduction in the state-level committed population and yielded millions of dollars in cost savings while protecting public safety” (p. 1). Sections of this brief cover: problem; reforms—authorizing legislation, redirected resources, incentive funding, standardized tools, and streamlines system; and impact—commitments down, costs reduced $50 million per year, and public safety maintained.

Bending the Curve: Juvenile Corrections Reform in Texas cover

“Determining how to provide effective mental health treatment for youth involved in the juvenile justice system – and ensuring that it continues after they exit detention – is one of the most complex challenges facing this system. This report examines how one jurisdiction, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, has taken extraordinary steps to address this challenge by ensuring Medicaid eligibility for detained youth and establishing a licensed, free-standing community mental health clinic adjacent to it detention facility. The report also provides an overview of how the county became an active site in Casey’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and details how their new mental health clinic is being operated and financed, and the lessons emerging from their innovative approach.” Nine chapters make up this report: understanding the mental health challenge for juvenile detention reform; Bernalillo—becoming a model JDAI site; Bernalillo’s mental health challenge; organizing and building a mental health clinic; nuts and bolts of the clinic; assessing the clinic’s impact; key advantages of the onsite clinic; issues and challenges for Bernalillo County and lessons learned; and questions and implications for other jurisdictions.

Bernalillo County Mental Health Clinic Case Study Cover


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