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Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform

NCJ Number
Date Published
130 pages
Based on the study entitled, "Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Development Approach," the current report provides specific guidance to the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) regarding the steps that it should take, both internally and externally, to facilitate juvenile justice reform grounded in research-based knowledge about adolescent development.
The proposals presented in this book recognize that OJJDP's authorizing legislation provides the agency with the appropriate authority and functions to be a leader in juvenile justice reform; however, that authority and OJJDP's capacity to focus on system reform must be strengthened. This report identifies seven hallmarks of a developmental approach to juvenile justice, based on research on adolescent development and the effectiveness of juvenile justice interventions. These hallmarks provide a framework to guide system reform. The hallmarks are as follows: accountability without criminalization; alternatives to justice system involvement; individualized response based on the assessment of needs and risks; confinement only when necessary for public safety; a genuine commitment to fairness; sensitivity to disparate treatment; and family engagement. This report suggests how these hallmarks of a developmental approach should be incorporated into policies and practices within OJJDP, as well as in actions by State, local, and tribal jurisdictions. This report advises that most of the recommended steps proposed can be achieved under the current Federal statutory framework of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and even within OJJDP's limited funding. This will require that OJJDP be creative in using the flexibility allowed by available funding streams and in leveraging other sources of support. Still, OJJDP's ability to effect reform of the juvenile justice field in the foreseeable future (a 3-year plan is recommended), will be severely constrained without adequate legislative and budgetary support by Federal policymakers. 2 figures, 3 tables, extensive references and appended speakers and interviews, the 2013 report in brief, and committee biographies