Juvenile Justice Project

The past decade has seen significant improvements in the nation’s juvenile justice systems, driven by a growing body of research demonstrating what works to improve youth outcomes. As jurisdictions have taken steps to reform their systems, however, most of the attention has focused on reducing the number of youth in confinement facilities while comparatively less attention has been paid to the outcomes for youth who are diverted from confinement or who are returning to the community after confinement. While policymakers and practitioners increasingly recognize the importance of pursuing evidence-based strategies to improve these outcomes, many jurisdictions lack sufficient tools and guidance to successfully implement the policies and practices that are supported by research. Many jurisdictions also struggle with collecting data and measuring impact to ensure that their efforts are improving youth outcomes. Finally, it’s rare for key leaders from all three branches of government to have a shared understanding of system needs and to collaborate in reform initiatives.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center’s Juvenile Justice Project seeks to provide guidance and support to state and local officials and other key stakeholders in the field who are working to address these challenges. The Project is designed with the following four objectives:

  1. Highlight the strategies that research demonstrates improves youth outcomes and synthesize these strategies through a white paper for the juvenile justice field.
  2. Provide technical assistance and tools to help states translate “big picture concepts” into policy and practice.
  3. Promote efforts by policymakers and system administrators to improve their ability to measure youth outcomes, and to use this data to guide policy, practice, and resource-allocation decisions.
  4. Galvanize inter-branch teams of state policymakers to develop plans that will improve outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

The Justice Center’s work in the area of juvenile justice builds upon research pioneered and supported by key partners, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative, Georgetown University’s Center on Juvenile Justice Reform, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and others. This Project is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice and the MacArthur Foundation.

In addition to the Juvenile Justice Project, the CSG Justice Center provides technical assistance to juvenile justice programs that receive grant funding through the Second Chance Act and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program through two U.S. Department of Justice initiatives: the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) and the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). For more information and resources related to “what works” to improve youth reentry and overall juvenile justice outcomes, please visit the Juvenile Justice Reentry page. To learn more about youth behavioral health issues, please visit the Mental Health page.

The Juvenile Justice Project builds upon the efforts of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and national private foundations, which have made transforming the philosophy and practice of the juvenile justice system a key priority.

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Alone: Teens in Solitary Confinement

This documentary from The Center for Investigative Reporting captures the stories of youth who have been in solitary confinement, and includes perspectives from youth and correctional personnel.

Screenshot 2014-06-24 10.55.03

Video: “Why Youth Join Gangs”

This video from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and National Gang Center features perspectives and insight from gang researchers, practitioners, and youth who were previously involved in gangs.

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