Juvenile Reentry

On any given day, approximately 60,000 youth are confined in residential facilities, including juvenile detention facilities and local and state correctional facilities. These youth typically face a host of barriers to their reentry into the community, and juvenile justice systems can play a key role in helping to guide and support their successful transition, reduce recidivism, and promote long-term positive youth outcomes.

State and local policymakers, juvenile corrections and other supervision agencies, and service providers are more focused than ever on applying the research on “what works” to improve reentry outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system; yet many systems struggle to implement programs and practices that adhere to this research and are integrated with the efforts of other systems that serve youth. With support from the MacArthur Foundation and Bureau of Justice Assistance, and in collaboration with nationally recognized experts in the field, the Justice Center developed a white paper that highlights the research that shows what works to promote successful reentry for youth who are under juvenile justice system supervision, and distills and synthesizes this research into four guiding principles.

In addition to reviewing the paper, juvenile justice systems can use the research and resources provided below to learn about these principles in greater depth and to help identify and advance strategies for applying this research to reduce recidivism and improve other outcomes for youth in their own systems.

Core Principles: In-Depth Research Guidance

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1. Base supervision, service, and resource allocation decisions on the results of validated assessments.

Risk-Need-Responsivity Model for Offender Assessment and Rehabilitation

Developed in the 1980s and first formalized in 1990, the risk-need-responsivity model has been used with increasing success to assess and rehabilitate criminals in Canada and around the world. As suggested by its name, it is based on three principles: 1) the risk principle asserts that criminal behavior can be reliably predicted and that treatment should focus on the higher risk offenders; 2) the need principle highlights the importance of criminogenic needs in the design and delivery of treatment; and 3) the responsivity principle describes how the treatment should be provided. This paper summarizes the role of the principles in the development of risk assessment instruments. It also explains why some interventions work and others do not.

Risk-needs assessment in juvenile justice: Predictive validity of the SAVRY, racial differences, and the contribution of needs factors

The authors conducted a prospective study of the predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) using a 5-year follow-up period and a sample of 480 male adolescents assessed by juvenile detention personnel. Overall, the SAVRY total scores were significantly predictive of any type of reoffending with some variability across racial-ethnic groups. Implications for use of risk-needs assessment tools in juvenile justice programs and areas in need of further investigation are discussed.

Applying risk/need assessment to probation practice and its impact on the recidivism of young offenders

Evaluating the extent to which case management practices are guided by risk/need assessment is important because the impact of the assessment process will not be realized if the instrument is not applied as fully intended. This study investigated whether risk/need assessment is linked to the case management of young offenders and whether adherence to the principles of risk, need, and responsivity, as part of the case management plan, is related to recidivism.

Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System

Presents a comprehensive model for providing a broad range of mental health services to youth in contact with the juvenile justice system with recommended actions and over 30 detailed suggestions. Based on four years of research including: literature review, multi-site prevalence study of mental health needs and services for youth in different levels of juvenile justice care, and identification of existing promising programs and practices.

Screening and Assessment in Juvenile Justice Systems: Identifying Mental Health Needs and Risk of Reoffending

This brief highlights the benefits of adopting screening and assessment tools for both mental health problems and risk of reoffending among many youth populations.

Does risk assessment make a difference? Results of implementing the SAVRY in juvenile probation

An effective approach to reducing recidivism is, first, to identify a youth's risk of reoffending and then to match the intensity of interventions to that risk level. This pre-post quasi-experimental, prospective study compared 247 (pre) with 217 (post) adjudicated youths to examine the implementation of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) and its effects on case management practices in Louisiana's Caddo parish probation office. The implications for implementation and for use of risk/needs assessment in juvenile probation are also discussed.

Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation

This guidebook attempts to provide a structure for jurisdictions, juvenile probation or centralized statewide agencies striving to implement risk assessment or to improve their current risk assessment practices. The purpose of such risk assessment tools is to help in making decisions about youths’ placement and supervision, and creating intervention plans that will reduce their level of risk.

Mental Health Screening Within Juvenile Justice: The Next Frontier

Discusses issues surrounding the mental health screening of juvenile offenders such as screening procedures, policies and implementation.

Best implementation practices: Disseminating new assessment technologies in a juvenile justice agency

Much has been written in recent years about advances in assessment technologies designed to aid decision making in the juvenile justice system. This article describes and assesses efforts in one jurisdiction to close the assessment technology gap through a progressive series of research-based strategies introducing field supervisors and staff to best practices concepts and tools while gauging their capacity for assimilating change, participative decision making and peer training, and integration of the technology with existing, related practices.

2. Adopt and effectively implement programs and services demonstrated to reduce recidivism and improve other youth outcomes, and use data to evaluate system performance and direct system improvements.

Improving the effectiveness of juvenile justice programs: A new perspective on evidence-based practice

This paper introduces a framework for juvenile justice system reform that focuses on basing program placements and supervision levels upon objective risk and needs assessments and in constructing case management plans focused on improving future behavior rather than punishing past behavior.

Effectiveness of cognitive behavioral interventions for youthful offenders- Review of the literature

This chapter (from Cognitive Behavioral Interventions with At-Risk Youth) explores some of the issues surrounding the research and application of cognitive behavior treatment as it applies to juvenile offenders.

Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders

Over the past decade researchers have identified intervention strategies and program models that reduce juvenile delinquency and promote pro-social development. This paper reviews the methods used to identify the best programs, explains how program success is measured, provides an overview of programs that work, and offers guidance on how jurisdictions can shift toward more evidence-based practices.

Implementing Proven Programs for Juvenile Offenders: Assessing State Progress

Evidence-based practice in the juvenile justice field involves the use of scientific principles to assess the available evidence on program effectiveness and develop principles for best practice. This study was undertaken to assess how well individual states are doing in providing evidence-based programs, and whether there are any commonalities between the highest performers.

A CJCA white paper: Defining and measuring recidivism

Juvenile justice leaders face several problems due to the complexity underlying measurement of recidivism and demands for recidivism rates as simple, definite numbers that describe the effectiveness of a broad range of services and youths. This white paper lays out recommendations for standardizing measures of recidivism.

Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009-2011

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) presents a compendium of significant advances and reforms in juvenile justice from across the United States during the period from 2009-2011.

Return on Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes

This report from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy provides a list of current (as on 04/2012) evidence-based policy options on many public policy topics, including juvenile justice. Of particular focus in this report is the return on investment of these policy options.

Implementation Research: A Synthesis of the Literature

This review describes the current state of the science of evidence-based practice and program implementation, and identifies what it will take to transmit innovative programs and practices to mental health, social services, juvenile justice, substance abuse prevention, and more.

State-wide Implementation of Child and Family Evidence Based Practices: Challenges and Promising Practices

This brief explores the implementation of evidence-based practices for children and youth on a statewide basis, including the importance, the challenges, and the successes across different fields in human services. Two states, Connecticut and Ohio, are highlighted for further exploration.

3. Employ a coordinated approach across service systems to address youth's need.

Addressing the Needs of Multi-System Youth: Strengthening the Connection between Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

Youth known to both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems—commonly referred to as crossover or dually-involved youth—are often underserved as they move from one system to another. Researchers have been working to better understand the trajectory many crossover youth follow between systems and into adulthood. This paper seeks to provide a framework for jurisdictions to utilize in their efforts to better serve crossover youth.

Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System

Presents a comprehensive model for providing a broad range of mental health services to youth in contact with the juvenile justice system with recommended actions and over 30 detailed suggestions. Based on four years of research including: literature review, multi-site prevalence study of mental health needs and services for youth in different levels of juvenile justice care, and identification of existing promising programs and practices.

Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems

Youth involved with the juvenile delinquency system and those in the foster care system face barriers to receiving adequate educational services. This paper outlines potential strategies, programs and resources that will enable political and agency leaders, policymakers, and practitioners to act collaboratively across systems to effectively improve the educational outcomes for youth known to multiple systems of care.

Back on Track: Supporting Youth Reentry from Out-of-Home Placement to the Community

Members of the Juvenile Justice Reentry Task Force and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition offer this issue brief to outline the concept of reentry services in theory and practice, review Federal policy enacted to support reentry, suggest opportunities for improvements in public policy, and review promising initiatives.

Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy, and Practice

Edited by Francine T. Sherman and Francine H. Jacobs, this volume reflects the multiplisciplinary, multisectoral nature of juvenile justice, including chapters by leaders in the fields of child development, law, public health, education, advocacy, and public administration.

Treatment of Adolescents with Substance Use Disorders

The Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) series is distributed by SAMHSA. This TIP, Treatment of Adolescents With Substance Use Disorders, focuses on ways to specialize treatment for adolescents, as well as on common and effective program components and approaches being used today.

Guidebook for Juvenile Justice & Child Welfare System Coordination and Integration: A Framework for Improved Outcomes

Increasingly, practitioners and policymakers are recognizing the overlap of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. This Guidebook highlights numerous examples from jurisdictions across the country that have worked diligently to develop new practices, policies, procedures and protocols that achieve the goals of enhanced multi-system performance and improved youth and family outcomes.

Juvenile Justice and Mental Health: A Collaborative Approach

This brief is one in a series describing new knowledge and innovations emerging from Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. The document explores a pilot collaborative model between three Pennsylvania counties—Allegheny, Chester, and Erie—and a state-level team to tackle the issue of solving the mental health/juvenile justice crisis. Through the Comprehensive Systems Change Initiative (CSCI), supported by Models for Change, they have implemented a collaborative model to identify youths with mental health needs at all decision-making points in the juvenile justice process, and to ensure an appropriate response.

Reentry Myth Buster. On Youth Access to Education Upon Reentry

Reentry MythBusters are fact sheets designed to clarify existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. This installment focuses on the barriers that many youth face when trying to continue their education following reentry.

Summit on Education in Correctional Facilities to address correctional and reentry education for youth and adults

n November 19, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd) hosted a Summit on Education in Correctional Facilities to address correctional and reentry education for youth and adults. The goal was to ensure that formerly incarcerated individuals have the tools and supports necessary to become positively engaged members of society who are prepared for 21st Century employment. The meeting identified several critical issues, many of which apply to both adult and youth offenders.

4. Tailor system policies, programs, and supervision to reflect the distinct developmental needs of adolescents.

Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach

Recent research on adolescent development has underscored important behavioral differences between adults and adolescents with direct bearing on the design and operation of the justice system. This report reviews these recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and draws out the implications of this knowledge for juvenile justice reform.

Highlights from Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders

The Pathways to Desistance study is a large, collaborative, multidisciplinary project that has collected the most comprehensive data set currently available about serious adolescent offenders and their lives in late adolescence and early adulthood. It looks at the factors that lead youth who have committed serious offenses to continue or desist from offending, including individual maturation, life changes, and involvement with the criminal justice system/

From Delinquency to Young Adult Offending (Study Group on the Transitions between Juvenile Delinquency and Adult Crime)

This is the first of six bulletins reporting on findings from the National Institute of Justice Study Group on the Transitions from Juvenile Delinquency and Adult Crime. The series presents the latest research findings and information about criminal career patterns, special categories of serious and violent offenders, explanations for offending, contextual influences, and prediction and risk/needs assessments. The present bulletin presents an overview of the main findings.

Reducing disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system: Promising Practices

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act requires states receiving funding under the act to determine whether the proportion of juvenile minorities in confinement exceeds their proportion in the general population, known as disproportionate minority contact (DMC), and make demonstrable efforts to reduce DMC. This article reviews and synthesizes national best practices for successfully reducing DMC in the juvenile justice system.

Young Adult Offenders: The Need for More Effective Legislative Options and Justice Processing

This article discusses the need for more effective legislative options and justice processing for young adult offenders due to the drastic change in how juvenile offenders are treated once they become legal adults.

The Impact of Family Visitation on Incarcerated Youth’s Behavior and School Performance Findings from the Families as Partners Project

From February 2010 through March 2013, Vera’s Family Justice Program partnered with the Ohio Department of Youth Services in an effort to promote better outcomes for incarcerated youth by helping staff draw on youth’s families as a source of material and emotional support, encouraging visits and correspondence between youth and their families, and increasing family involvement in youth’s treatment and reentry plans. This brief summarizes the findings.

Safety, Fairness, Stability: Repositioning Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare to Engage Families and Communities

This paper focuses on the importance of the role of families and communities for youth involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, as well as provides a pathway to improving these systems to benefit youth.

Core Principles: In-Depth Implementation Guidance

To learn more about the core principles, click the cover below.

Models for Change is a multi-state initiative working to guide and accelerate advances to make juvenile justice systems more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate. The juvenile justice white paper draws heavily from the research sponsored by and lessons learned from this decade-long initiative. Reentry initiatives can use the white paper as a springboard for identifying needed policy and practice improvements and can access the wealth of resources and tools offered by Models for Change and its partners to help facilitate these efforts. Links are also provided to sites that certify juvenile justice program and practices that have demonstrated, through research, to reduce recidivism and improve other youth outcomes.