New Data Analysis Guides States on How to Improve Public Safety, the Juvenile Justice System, and Youth Outcomes

June 24, 2024

Youth across the country are grappling with myriad challenges that include increases in mental health issues, school absenteeism, community violence, and victimization. At the same time, many policymakers and system leaders are struggling with how best to respond, including whether greater reliance on the juvenile justice system and more sanctions-oriented approaches are warranted.

Navigating Concerns on Youth Crime, Violence, and Behavioral Health: What Does the Data Say? by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, with support from the Prudential and W.T. Grant Foundation, aims to help policymakers better understand and address trends related to these issues.

What the Project Involves

The CSG Justice Center analyzed the most recent behavioral health, arrest, and juvenile justice system data available so that policymakers can use this data to achieve two important goals:

  1. Refocus the juvenile justice system on youth who commit serious and violent offenses, and ensure limited resources are invested in what works to improve public safety and youth outcomes.
  2. Develop a comprehensive state plan that addresses the systemic reasons for youth’s behaviors and ensures that the most vulnerable adolescents receive the services and supports they need to transition to a safe and healthy adulthood.

Why It Matters

Policymakers and the public are increasingly concerned about youth crime and violence. Overall youth arrests, including for violent offenses, remain historically low. However, youth arrests for homicides and weapons offenses surged post-pandemic, and gun violence is now a leading cause of death among children and youth, especially Black youth.

States need research and data on how to effectively address youth violence while also tackling the root causes of many youth behaviors—mental illness, substance use, family dysfunction, school disconnectedness, and trauma. Policymakers also need guidance on whether the juvenile justice system is the best place to tackle these challenges, and what interventions have proven effective at reducing reoffending and improving other youth outcomes.

By placing trends related to youth behavioral health, arrests, court cases, detention and placement, and racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system in context—and recognizing the connections between them—policymakers can focus on making data-driven decisions that are in the best interests of youth and public safety.



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Deputy Division Director, Corrections and Reentry
Josh Weber directs the CSG Justice Center's juvenile justice program, which focuses on helping states use effective methods to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. Previously, Josh spent 10 years working on
building the capacity of programs and systems that serve vulnerable youth in the juvenile justice, youth development, workforce development, and child welfare systems. Josh managed research programs for the Youth Development and Research Fund in Maryland and the Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. In addition, Josh led the development and implementation of NYC Administration for Children’s Services' alternative to placement and reentry program for juveniles using evidence-based practices. He also directed the District of Columbia’s Justice Grants Administration, which managed all federal juvenile and criminal justice grants for the District. Josh received his BA in psychology from Duke University and his MPA from Princeton University.
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