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Stakeholders' Views on the Movement to Reduce Youth Incarceration

March 31, 2014

Youth incarceration rates have changed dramatically over the past 10 years . Following two decades of "tough-on-crime" policies and steep surges in juvenile incarceration during the 1980s and 1990s, the field is now seeing sharp reductions in youth confinement . The latest data from the US Justice Department showed that the rate of youth in confinement dropped 41% between 2001 and 2011 . Since 2001, 48 states have experienced such a decline . Several states cut their confinement rates by half or more . Juvenile facilities have closed in a dozen states, with more than 50 facilities closing in the past five years alone .The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) decided to seek the opinions of system stakeholders regarding these changes . These stakeholders included advocates who successfully pressured their local systems to adopt reforms; the majority of study participants work inside the system as judges, probation chiefs, probation officers, directors of child welfare agencies, elected officials, and district attorneys.Through interviews and listening sessions, these system stakeholders expressed their beliefs that declining youth crime and rising costs were key drivers of the current trend . Additionally, respondents said that many of these successes were driven by successful legislation, innovative incentives built into state budgets, decisions to place youth close to home, and supervision strategies that rely on positive relationships between youth and their families.

Assessing the Enhanced Ranch Program of the Santa Clara County Probation Department

May 1, 2010

In 2006, the Santa Clara County Probation Department (SCCPD) changed its approach to serving youth in two of its juvenile justice programs--the William F. James Boys' Ranch and the Muriel Wright Center. The overarching objectives of the change were to provide specific therapeutic services to youth and families while maintaining a commitment to public safety. The new cognitive-behavioral model marks a vastly different structure and philosophy, patterned after the evidence-based program developed by the Missouri Division of Youth Services. The new model, entitled the Enhanced Ranch Program, targets youth heavily entrenched in the juvenile justice system and emphasizes positive, peer-based group interactions and a holistic approach to developing individual case plans. Specially trained teams of staff work with small groups of youth offenders.Teams function as therapeutic units that share the daily activities of life with youth and focus on their critical thinking, personal development, and group processes. The Enhanced Ranch Program serves high-risk, high- need youth with gang affiliations, substance abuse issues, and significant criminal histories. This model was designed to improve outcomes for youth with extensive criminal histories by ensuring that they receive the most appropriate and purposeful services. The primary focus is to help youth internalize healthy behavior that will help them succeed.In November, 2008, Santa Clara County Chief Probation Officer Sheila Mitchell, commissioned NCCD to evaluate the implementation of the Enhanced Ranch Program. In large part, this report presents the findings of a process evaluation--an analysis of the specific structure and practice instituted by the County. It also presents some preliminary outcomes for youth.

Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens (FOCUS)

September 28, 2008

The death of a 16 year-old girl, shot and killed by her 17 year-old boyfriend in Oakland, California, epitomizes the potential of interpersonal violence to escalate to a tragic extreme (Contra Costa Times, 2008). This Focus attempts to bring to light various aspects of a little-studied issue of critical importance, especially to youth.

The Declining Number of Youth in Custody in the Juvenile Justice System

August 13, 2008

During the last decade, custody rates for youth in the US have declined significantly. This Focus describes this trend by race/ethnicity, gender, and state. Measured by arrest rates, juvenile crime, especially serious crime, has also decreased during this period, contrary to a prevalent misconception that young people pose a growing threat to society.