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Pioneers of Youth Justice Reform: Achieving System Change Using Resolution, Reinvestment, and Realignment Strategies

NCJ Number
245609
Author(s)
Douglas N. Evans
Date Published
July 2012
Length
67 pages
Annotation
This report describes the history and implementation of well-known initiatives in juvenile justice reform that have drawn on one or more of the following mechanisms for achieving change: "resolution," "reinvestment," and "realignment" (Butts and Evans, 2011).
Abstract
"Resolution" refers to the use of managerial authority and administrative directives to influence system change. "Reinvestment" involves the use of financial incentives in encouraging system change. "Realignment" uses organizational and structural modification in creating new systems. The goals of this report are to clarify the distinctions between these three models and promote realignment as more likely than either resolution or reinvestment to produce system changes that are sustainable. Case studies are presented for States that have pursued one or a combination of these three models for change. All of the strategies have a common goal, i.e., localizing juvenile justice management and eliminating the incentives that often drive over-incarceration. Although resolution strategies may force State and county governments to seek alternative placements in the short-term, a State can simply build or expand facilities over time. Reinvestment strategies can alter budget allocations, but these arrangements are reversible under changing political priorities. Realignment, compared to the other two models, may be more durable, because it requires each county or region to build its own localized system. It is difficult to restore a centralized State agency that has been eliminated and replaced with smaller agencies managed at the local level. Realignment decentralizes State functions and enables communities to control decisionmaking and policy implementation. Also, realignment strategies may be more resistant to policy changes and fluctuations in crime rates. The author notes, however, that the realignment approach is relatively new, so it is too soon to assess its long-term effectiveness. 117 references