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Engaging Families and Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
13 pages
After reviewing the rationale for the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP's) commitment to the juvenile justice system's engagement with the families of justice-involved youth, this paper reviews OJJDP's resources that are available to help localities, tribes, and States engage effectively with the families of such youth.
OJJDP recognizes that the families of youth involved in the juvenile justice system face many challenges that require the support of community resources before, during, and after their children become involved with State, tribal, or local juvenile justice systems. Yet these youth and their families are often provided little or no opportunity to ask questions or provide input into the decisions made by the justice system. Minority youth are disproportionately involved in the juvenile justice system, and many are from families that are economically, educationally, and socially deprived. These families may find the justice system confusing, alienating, judgmental, and punitive. OJJDP-sponsored listening sessions with such families have found that they want improved communication with system officials; greater access to their children throughout the arrest, judicial, and correctional processes; and a more meaningful involvement in the decisions that affect their children's lives. OJJDP supports a public-health approach to juvenile justice that focuses on reducing risk and increasing resiliency against delinquent behavior. This approach includes engaging system-involved and formerly incarcerated youth and their families in planning and decisions that affect their lives. In order to facilitate the implementation of this policy, OJJDP provides technical assistance, grants, research, and data collection to support States, tribes, and communities in their efforts to serve at-risk and justice-involved youth and their families. The features of each of these resources are described in this paper. 39 citations