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Ten Strategies To Reduce Juvenile Length of Stay

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2015
16 pages
This paper proposes 10 strategies for reducing the length of time that juveniles are held in custodial facilities.
The rationale for this focus on length of stay is research that has shown that regardless of the type of offense, placement in a juvenile facility beyond 6 months is largely ineffective in reducing recidivism, and it may often be harmful by interrupting a developmental pathway that leads to desistance from crime. The ten recommendations provide guidance on ways to reduce the length of time juveniles are held in correctional facilities. First, gather data that will guide policy and practice. Appropriate data can help identify causes of extended placements and guide solutions. Second, adopt time limits or presumptions to reduce length of stay, so that youth may not remain in secure care for longer than 6 months except under designated, limited circumstances. Third, prohibit inappropriate justifications for extending length of stay. This means that institutional behavior that does not constitute an additional offense should not be grounds for extending the length of stay. Fourth, use structured decisionmaking to guide length of stay. Such structured decisionmaking should allow for decisionmakers to override the recommendation if they provide a written explanation and are subject to prompt review. Fifth, use case planning and reentry services to reduce length of stay. Sixth, rely on family engagement to reduce length of stay. Seventh, use treatment matching to reduce length of stay. Eighth, use disposition and disposition review to reduce length of stay. Ninth, Ensure that appropriate step-down programming is available in the community. Tenth, use financial incentives and funding priorities that encourage appropriate length of stay for juveniles. 49 notes