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Probation Reform: A tool kit for juvenile justice state advisory groups

December 1, 2022

Nationally, probation is the most widely used sanction for young people who come into contact with the youth justice system. However, because of the surveillance-based approach to probation and the high number of conditions placed on many young people, probation can result in young people going deeper into the system and derailing their chances for positive futures. Moreover, there is no evidence that probation practices that rely on lengthy court conditions and compliance-oriented practices are successful in improving youth behavior. In fact, research shows that traditional, surveillance-oriented probation is particularly ineffective at preventing or deterring delinquent behavior, with especially poor results for youth at low risk of rearrest.States and communities across the country are working to transform probation using new approaches focused on youth development. As jurisdictions look to the possibility of closing youth prisons, many are reimagining the existing probation system in a way that both raises the ceiling and the floor for who is eligible: reducing the number of low-level offenses that result in probation, while opening doors and looking to probation as an alternative in more serious cases. More probation departments are reducing the number of young people placed on probation by expanding and improving available diversion programming. At the same time, communities are looking at probation as an alternative for young people with more serious charges who previously may have been placed in detention or other out-of-home placement.Diversion efforts have been linked to several benefits including reducing rearrests or reoffending and avoiding deeper involvement with the juvenile justice system. Diversion also helps avoid harms that can come from experiences with the justice system, such as stigma and traumatization.State Advisory Groups (SAGs) are uniquely positioned within their states to help inform, influence and support policymakers and juvenile justice practitioners as they seek to transform the use of probation. Published by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, this tool kit aims to help SAGs better understand and support probation transformation.

Youth Partnership: A Call to Action for State Advisory Groups

November 14, 2022

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) released this guide to provide practical support to state advisory groups (SAGs) in their efforts to achieve meaningful, authentic engagement with young people who have experienced the justice system. The guide includes actions for SAGs no matter their existing level of youth engagement, whether they've struggled to meet the basic requirements of youth engagement for years or are looking for new ways to deepen already existing youth partnerships. Each stage of youth engagement — recruitment, onboarding and retention — is divided into 101 (introductory), 201 (intermediate) and 301 (advanced) levels of engagement to help SAGs to honestly self-assess their existing practices and readiness for authentic youth engagement and start taking steps from wherever they are.

Addressing the Intersections of Juvenile Justice and Youth Homelessness: Principles for Change, A Brief Summary

March 15, 2017

By coming together across sectors, communities can address the intersections of juvenile justice and youth homelessness. These partnerships should focus on ensuring that young people and their families have access to safe, secure, and sustained housing, as well as services that help address their underlying needs. Educators, law enforcement, judiciary officers, policy makers, and most importantly youth with relevant lived experiences, all have an important stake in these efforts to.

Addressing the Intersections of Juvenile Justice Involvement and Youth Homelessness: Working with Girls

March 1, 2017

Juvenile justice agencies, youth homelessness service providers, and other related stakeholders play an important role in addressing the unique needs of girls. Stakeholders can improve the outcomes for girls experiencing trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder through gender-responsive practices, and by implementing policies that are specific to the needs of girls who have experienced abuse and homelessness.

Addressing the Intersection of Juvenile Justice Involvement and Youth Homelessness: Serving LGBTQ Youth

March 1, 2017

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and gender non-conforming (LGBTQ/GNC) youth experience increased levels of homelessness when compared to other peers and are also disproportionally more likely to be involved with the juvenile justice system. An estimated 20-40% of youth experiencing homeless are LGBTQ/GNC, as compared to 7-10% of the general youth population.

Addressing the Intersections of Juvenile Justice Involvement and Youth Homelessness: Principles for Change

February 28, 2017

A young person's involvement with the justice system can increase their likelihood of later experiencing homelessness for many reasons, including the fact that educational disruptions and juvenile delinquency records can make it harder to obtain employment. Youth experiencing homelessness may also be swept into the juvenile justice system through laws that prohibit simply being in public spaces, such as juvenile curfews, or anti-sitting or sleeping ordinances. Both juvenile justice involvement and youth homelessness have long-term negative consequences. The Principles in Part I of this document provide a roadmap for communities to help young people avoid experiencing juvenile justice system involvement and/or youth homelessness.

Status Offenses: A National Survey

April 21, 2015

Status offenses are behaviors that violate the law only because the person engaging in them has not yet reached the age of majority. Common examples of these behaviors include running away from home and skipping school. Each year, thousands of children enter the juvenile justice system for these types of behaviors. Currently, status offense laws vary greatly from state to state, with a broad range of terminology and definitions governing the issue. Similarly, diversion programs and practices, as well as sanctions following disposition of a case, differ significantly among the states.This brief examines existing status offense laws across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It details the legislative label that each state applies to status offense behaviors, the types of behaviors that fall within that label, diversion options that are available in the case, possible outcomes following adjudication, and whether the state uses the valid court order (VCO) exception or a 24-hour hold for youth who are detained for status offense behaviors. This brief may be used by judges, advocates, and legislators to assess national trends and gather ideas for system reform.

A Pivotal Moment: Sustaining the Success and Enhancing the Future of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

September 8, 2009

Based on a survey, recommends ways to enhance partnerships among federal, state, tribal, and territorial governments to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and reform juvenile justice systems, such as increasing training and technical assistance.

Applying Research to Practice: What Are the Implications of Adolescent Brain Development for Juvenile Justice?

February 1, 2007

Brain imagery now allows us to see some of the developmental milestones achieved by the human brain as it grows and matures throughout the early stages of life, confirming in pictures what parents and those who work closely with youth have long found to be true: adolescence is a period of gradual maturation. Hard science demonstrates that teenagers and young adults are not fully mature in their judgment, problem-solving and decisionmaking capacities. In the spring of 2006, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), with grant support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at the U.S. Department of Justice, devoted a national conference to explore how juvenile justice systems can work more effectively with youth and families in light of growing and more refined knowledge about the nuances of adolescent development and maturation. Some of the ideas about applying research to juvenile justice practice are contained in this brief report -- the second of two resource papers derived from presentations and discussions held at and since the conference.

Emerging Concepts Brief: What Are the Implications of Adolescent Brain Development for Juvenile Justice?

October 1, 2006

Brain imagery now allows us all to see the developmental milestones achieved by the human brain as it grows and matures throughout the early stages of life -- confirming in pictures what parents and those who work closely with youth have long found to be true: adolescence is a period of gradual maturation. Hard science demonstrates that teenagers and young adults are not fully mature in their judgment, problem-solving and decisionmaking capacities. This paper endeavors to explore the implications of such science for policy and practice in juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

Childhood on Trial: The Failure of Trying and Sentencing Youth in Adult Criminal Court

March 1, 2005

This national report from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) finds that a quarter million youth under the age of 18, charged with both minor and major criminal offenses, are sent into adult criminal court each year -- with decidedly negative results. Re-offense rates increase for youth handled in the adult system versus the juvenile system; age-appropriate rehabilitative services are scarce and substandard in adult jails and prisons; physical, emotional and sexual abuse risks escalate for youth jailed with adults; and youth of color are more often transferred and sentenced to adult court -- as compared with white youth who have committed the same offenses. The report cites exemplary efforts -- like those in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, and several other states -- that seek to restore the authority of the juvenile court judge, as well as common sense, to the way we handle juvenile offenders.

Unlocking the Future: Detention Reform in Juvenile Justice

January 1, 2004

This national report form the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) finds that detaining youth charged with offenses in locked facilities while awaiting their hearings has become an automatic catchall response across the United States. As a result, many young people with mental health, substance abuse and family problems -- most of whom are 15 years or younger, nonviolent and disproportionately youth of color -- are needlessly swept into locked facilities. Although detention can be useful for offenders who may be dangerous to others or themselves, or who may flee a court hearing, in reality it has become a hidden closet where youth are sent when no one knows what else to do with them. According to CJJ, more than 27,000 American children and teens reside in secure detention facilities on any given day, some of whom will be acquitted or released. Moreover, this number has increased 72% in the last decade despite a simultaneous drop in juvenile crime. The report further demonstrates that detaining juveniles is more likely to increase rather than decrease future offending, and cites exemplary efforts designed to reduce the number of youth who inappropriately flow into confinement and to provide family- and community-based alternatives that better utilize limited public resources.