This is the executive summary of participant experiences and recommendations for reform in the juvenile justice system from four "listening sessions" in which families and youth discussed their direct experiences with the juvenile justice system at the local and State levels.
Four common themes emerged from the listening sessions. First, participants believed that early warning signs of problem behaviors were prevalent in their children, which could have served as critical prevention/intervention points, avoiding the emergence of serious behaviors that warranted formal processing by the juvenile justice system. Second, there was insufficient communication and information from system personnel about justice system processes and decisionmaking, leading to frustration for families attempting to navigate the system for the first time. Third, family members felt shame and guilt from their treatment by system personnel, and parents felt they were blamed for their children's behavior. Fourth, including family members in consultations enabled them to provide more supportive interactions with their children. Recommendations for reform emerged from these themes. They include greater involvement of school personnel in identifying and intervening at early signs of problem behavior; improved communication and access to information from the justice system to families; strong demonstration of support for parents/guardians; removal of children from adult jails and prisons; improved provision of rehabilitation services in juvenile detention systems; more flexibility in intensive probation supervision; removal of visitation barriers for juveniles in detention; and individualized aftercare and treatment plans. Session formats and participants are described. 2 tables and appended list of questions addressed in the sessions
Citizen Involvement Material
Date Published: July 1, 2013