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Juvenile Justice Reform in Arkansas: Building a Better Future for Youth, their Families, and the Community

NCJ Number
Pat Arthur; Tim Roche
Date Published
May 2008
51 pages
This report, prepared in collaboration with the Arkansas Division of Youth Services, examines juvenile justice reform efforts in Arkansas.
This report presents a framework for developing plans for juvenile justice reform efforts in the State. State agencies have realized the need for and benefits of juvenile justice reform. It is hoped that these efforts will save taxpayer money, better protect communities, and protect at-risk children from becoming entangled in a life of crime. The primary purpose of this report is to assist stakeholders in the development of a reform plan. The report has four main sections. The first part of the report discusses the problem of Arkansas's overreliance on the use of secure confinement for juvenile offenders, discusses how this problem can be addressed through the use of community-based interventions, and presents information on why now is the best time to reform the State's juvenile justice system. The second section of the report provides an overview of Arkansas's juvenile justice system along with information on the demographics of the population of youth committed to State facilities. The third section of the report identifies the factors that contribute to Arkansas's overreliance on secure confinement. These factors include system fragmentation, limited use of meaningful risk and needs assessment, the need for more resources to identify and access individualized community-based services for youth, the absence of alternative interventions to address school misbehavior, and the lack of alternative interventions for foster youth and youth with mental disorders. The fourth and final section of the report discusses the need for the development of a 5-year strategic plan aimed at reforming the State's juvenile justice system. This section identifies specific steps that can be taken now that will better serve youth and streamline the system. Tables, figures, and appendixes