A Comparison of Risk Assessment Instruments in Juvenile Justice (PDF)
Source: National Council on Crime and Delinquency
The proper use of valid, reliable risk assessments can clearly improve decision making. However, results of this study indicate that the power of some risk assessment instruments to accurately classify offenders by risk level may have been overestimated. Only three of the risk instruments examined demonstrated considerable capacity to accurately separate cases into low, moderate, and high risk levels with progressively higher recidivism with each risk level increase. Several risk instrument approaches emphasized over the last decade have substantial shortcomings and fail to convey what is most important to correctional administrators: the difference in outcomes between risk levels and the distribution of cases across the risk continuum.
The lack of standards for measuring validity and reliability of risk assessment instruments further complicates decision making for administrators. Greater emphasis should be placed both on reliability testing and validation studies before and after risk assessment instruments are transferred to other jurisdictions. This is an area where national standards could be established to ensure due diligence.
Risk assessment should be a simple process that can be easily understood and articulated. This study’s findings show that simple, actuarial approaches to risk assessment can produce the strongest results. Adding factors with relatively weak statistical relationships to recidivism—including dynamic factors and criminogenic needs—can result in reduced capacity to accurately identify high-, moderate-, and low-risk offenders.
Functional Impairment in Delinquent Youth (PDF)
Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
This bulletin is one in a series that presents the results of the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL. The authors present the results of their examination of youth’s functional impairment as assessed 3 years after their release from detention. Key findings include the following:
- Only 7.5 percent of youth had no notable impairment in functioning.
- Approximately one of every five youth had markedly impaired functioning.
- Markedly impaired functioning was much more common in males than in females; however, females were more likely to be severely impaired in the moods/emotions and self-harm domains than males.
- Among males living in the community, African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be severely impaired in school and work than non-Hispanic whites.
How to Calculate the Average Costs of Detaining a Youth (PDF)
Source: National Juvenile Justice Network
At a time when state and local governments face extreme fiscal challenges, it is imperative that reformer s have access to credible and informed estimates of the costs of juvenile justice processing. Although some jurisdictions and organizations have been able to complete in – depth cost – benefit analyses of juvenile justice expenditures, such extensive analyses can be expensive and time consuming. No netheless, reformers can arm themselves with valuable information on the costs of juvenile justice system processing by doing some basic research and calculations. The National Ju venile Justice Network’s (NJJN ) Fiscal Policy Center’s toolkit series shows r eaders how to use available budget data and processing statistics to estimate costs for different stages of the juvenile justice system.
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Releases Life-Saving Juvenile Justice System Resources
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Releases Life-Saving Juvenile Justice System Resources (PDF)
Source: National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention ( Action Alliance) today released a set of comprehensive suicide prevention resources to support professionals who work with youth in the juvenile justice system. The newly developed educational tools advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, which guides efforts to prevent suicide across the nation. Online versions of the nine resources are now available to the juvenile justice workforce and the general public…
Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership (PDF)
Source: Office of Justice Programs/Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Youth gang membership is a serious and persistent problem in the United States. One in three lo- cal law enforcement agencies report youth gang problems in their jurisdictions. One in four high school freshmen report gangs in their schools. Limited resources at the national, state, tribal and local levels make it more important than ever that we make full use of the best available evidence and clearly demonstrate the benefit of strategies to prevent gang-joining.
In acknowledgment of these realities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Na- tional Institute of Justice (NIJ) formed a partnership to publish this book. It is critical that those who make decisions about resources — as well as those who work directly with youth, like teachers and police officers, community services providers and emergency department physicians — understand what the research evidence shows about how to prevent kids from joining gangs.
The NIJ-CDC partnership drew on each agency’s distinctive strengths: NIJ’s commitment to enhancing justice and increasing public safety is matched by CDC’s dedication to health promotion and prevention of violence, injury and disability. By combining perspectives, lessons and evidence from public safety and public health, NIJ and CDC provide new insights into the complex problems of gangs and gang member- ship.
Public health and public safety workers who respond to gang problems know that after-the-fact efforts are not enough. An emergency department doctor who treats gang-related gunshot wounds or a police officer who must tell a mother that her son has been killed in a drive-by shooting are likely to stress the need for prevention — and the complementary roles that public health and law enforcement must play — in stopping violence before it starts. Given our shared commitment to informing policy and practice with the best available evidence of what works, CDC and NIJ brought together some of the nation’s top public health and criminal justice researchers to present core principles for gang-membership prevention.
Nature and Risk of Victimization: Findings From the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (PDF)
Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DOJ)
This bulletin covers key findings from the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement on youth’s victimization in placement, including their experiences of theft, robbery, physical assault, and sexual assault. It presents the details of youth’s reports about these victimization experiences, indicating the prevalence and frequency of victimization, the perpetrators involved, the use of weapons, and any injuries resulting from the victimization. Because SYRP provides substantial information about youth’s characteristics, needs, and conditions of confinement (Sedlak and Bruce, 2010; Sedlak and McPherson, 2010a, 2010b), it also provides a rich basis for un- derstanding the context of victimization.
The bulletin describes a variety of youth characteristics and facility conditions that correlate with victimization rates and identifies a core set of risk factors that predict the probability of a youth experi- encing violence in custody.
PTSD, Trauma, and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth (PDF)
Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
This bulletin examines the results of the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a prospective longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Tem – porary Detention Center in Chicago, IL. The authors discuss their findings on the prevalence of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among juvenile detainees and PTSD’s tendency to co-occur with other psychiatric disorders. Some findings include the following:
- Of the study sample, 92.5 percent of youth had experienced at least one trauma, 84 percent had experienced more than one trauma, and 56.8 percent were exposed to trauma six or more times.
- Witnessing violence, the most common trauma, was far more common in this study sample than in most community studies of youth and young adults.
- More than 1 in 10 detainees had PTSD in the year prior to the interview.
- Among participants with PTSD, 93 percent had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder. Among males, having any psychiatric diagnosis significantly increased the odds of having comorbid PTSD.
Source: Library of Parliament
Youth crime in general, and violent youth crime in particular, is a significant source of concern to many Canadians. In part, the concern is connected with an impression that crime committed by young people is on the rise, though the latest police statistics indicate that by 2011 the youth crime rate had fallen by 22% compared with 2001.1 The drop in youth crime rates over this period was mainly the result of a decrease in property crime. The rate of violent crimes in which the alleged perpetrator is a young person decreased by 12% between 2001 and 2011, while the rate of youth property crime dropped by 31%.2 In 2011, police identified 135,647 alleged youth criminals, of whom 42,799 were suspected of violent crimes.3
The data provided by Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index also show a 22% decline in the severity of all crimes committed by young people in 2011 compared with 2001.4 A significant part of this decline stems from a 33% decrease in the severity of non-violent crime. During this period, the severity of youth violent crime decreased by 3.1%.5
In attempts to address the concerns of Canadians and to react to the youth crime problem, lawmakers have, from time to time, proposed amendments to youth justice legislation. This document provides an overview of the principal legislative provisions that govern the way in which the police, the courts and the correctional systems must deal with those between 12 and 17 years of age when they are charged with a crime. The first section briefly traces the evolution of Canadian legislation in the area. The second section describes the philosophy and principles underlying the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), which currently governs criminal and justice matters affecting young people in Canada. The third section briefly outlines the sentences imposed on those convicted of an offence as a young person. The final section deals with the possible consequences of a conviction under the YCJA, specifically how criminal records are established and kept and how bodily substances may be taken in order to store a young person’s DNA in the National DNA Data Bank administered by the RCMP.
A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System (PDF)
Source: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health
Many mental health practitioners were trained in programs or at a time when very little attention was paid during the course of training to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. For a variety of reasons, general clinical training does not ordinarily equip a mental health practitioner to operate within the juvenile justice context. Practitioners who have been trained within more recently developed programs with a “forensic” emphasis may be more familiar with adults within the criminal justice system than with juveniles, more focused upon technical assessments, such as competency to stand trial, than upon youth-specific developmental and functional assessments, or relatively unfamiliar with the emerging literature regarding youth with mental health needs who have had contact with the juvenile justice system or penetrated to its deeper end programs.
This paper provides an overview for mental health practitioners who provide professional services to youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system. This overview emphasizes emerging research and practices, the emerging conceptualization of trauma and its implications for youth involved with the juvenile justice system, and implications for policy and practice. While primarily intended for mental health professionals working within system of care communities or interested in developing a system of care collaboration in their area, this paper is relevant for any mental health practitioner providing professional services to youth involved or at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system. It is also relevant for juvenile court and juvenile justice professionals whose work brings them into contact with youth with significant mental health needs.
Since the world’s first juvenile court was founded in Chicago, our legal system has recognized a separate mandate to rehabilitate youth with an approach that is different than adults. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia and the federal government have two distinct systems for dealing with adults and juveniles, and corrections systems kept pace by developing different systems for dealing with the youth. While the majority of youth arrested for criminal acts are prosecuted in state juvenile justice systems, a significant proportion of youth are handled by adult criminal justice agencies.It has been estimated that nearly 250,000 youth under age 18 end up in the adult 2 criminal justice system every year. However, little attention has been directed to how adult corrections systems are managing the youth offenders that end up in jails, prisons and under community supervision. To address this information gap, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) convened three dozen juvenile justice and adult corrections experts on June 18th , 2010, to consider some of the known issues, impacts and opportunities that face corrections systems as they work to safely and effectively rehabilitate thousands of youth offenders in the nations’ jails, prisons, probation and parole systems. This monograph presents the key findings identified during this convening of experts.
Contrary to the popular perception that juvenile crime is on the rise, the data reported in this bulletin tell a different story. As detailed in these pages, juvenile arrests for violent offenses declined 10% between 2008 and 2009, and overall juvenile arrests fell 9% during that same period. Between 1994—when the Violent Crime Index arrest rates for juveniles hit a historic high—and 2009, the rate fell nearly 50% to its lowest level since at least 1980. Arrest rates for nearly every offense category for both male and female and white and minority youth were down in 2009.
Although such trends are encouraging, they should not lead to a misplaced sense of compla cency. Juvenile crime and violence continue to plague many communities across the country. During the first decade of the 21st century (2000–2009), juvenile arrests for robbery rose 15%, and arrests for murder were unchanged. Clearly, our work is not finished.
Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Under a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NCSL has published a juvenile justice guidebook addressing the most important juvenile justice policy issues of the day. This juvenile justice primer highlights significant research, program approaches and gives examples of state legislation.
Tribal Youth in the Federal Justice System, Final Report (Revised) (PDF)
Source: Urban Institute
The Tribal Youth in the Federal Justice System project explored issues surrounding the population of American Indian juveniles who are processed in the federal justice system. Juveniles in the federal system are rare, and a substantial proportion enters into the system because of crimes committed on American Indians lands, over which the states have no jurisdiction. While these cases are sometimes handled within a tribe’s own justice system, some are prosecuted federally. Using 1999-2008 data from the Federal Justice Statistics Program and interviews with tribal and federal officials, the study explored the prevalence, characteristics, and outcomes of these youth at each stage of the justice system. In addition, the study examined significant issues surrounding the processing of tribal youth cases, including the reasons that these cases may be handled federally or tribally. This study fills a gap in the literature by providing both statistical and contextual information about tribal and non-tribal juvenile cases in the federal system. Although the data have many limitations, the study pointed to a number of findings, including the following: over the last ten years, about half of all juveniles in the federal system were tribal youth; the number of juveniles in the federal system – both tribal and nontribal — decreased over this period; most juvenile cases were concentrated in a small number of federal judicial districts; and U.S. Attorneys declined a substantial portion of all juvenile matters referred for prosecution. Tribal and non-tribal juvenile cases differed in significant ways: most tribal youth cases involved violent offenses, while most non-tribal cases involved public order and drug offenses; and tribal youth were more likely to be adjudicated delinquent, while nontribal youth were more likely to be prosecuted as adults. Availability of rehabilitative resources and tribal capacity to prosecute were also found to be important factors in the decision to pursue a tribal youth case in the federal system.