Juvenile Justice Resources

NEW Resources

Protecting Immigrant Youth

Unfortunately, many localities engage in unnecessary, and sometimes unlawful, practices that negatively impact the development of young people. This document provides information about how you and local law enforcement can act to protect young immigrants and their families by limiting their risk of being apprehended, detained, and deported.

Protecting Immigrant Youth

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Fact Sheet Series

The week of December 10, 2018, Congress passed H.R. 6964, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 (the Act) with overwhelming bipartisan support. The President signed the bill into law on December 21, 2018, amending the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) after years of collaborative efforts among juvenile justice organizations and advocates across the United States.

This document provides a summary of the provisions related to conditions in youth facilities and their implications for the youth justice system.

JJDPA – Conditions in Youth Facilities Fact Sheet

Addressing the Intersections of Juvenile Justice Involvement and Youth Homelessness: Principles for Change

Each year, nearly 380,000 minors experience “unaccompanied” homelessness — meaning they are homeless and without a parent or guardian — for a period of longer than one week. 1 These young people, much like their adult counterparts, are often cited, arrested, charged, and/or incarcerated instead of being provided with the supports they need. One million youth are also involved with law enforcement or the juvenile justice system each year, 2 an experience that can increase their likelihood of becoming homeless.

Many young people experience both homelessness and justice involvement. The following key principles and policy recommendations can help jurisdictions ensure that a youth’s involvement with the juvenile justice system does not increase the likelihood that they will experience homelessness, and that youth experiencing homelessness receive the services and supports they need instead of being cited, arrested, charged, or incarcerated. Juvenile justice agencies, youth homelessness service providers, and related stakeholders can improve outcomes for youth through collaboration, innovation, and the use of research and promising practices to inform their work. These recommendations should be used as a guide.

To access the report, Click here

Engage, Involve, Empower: Family Engagement in Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts

Juvenile drug treatment courts have emerged as a viable alternative to traditional justice system processing for youth with substance use disorders. While research on the treatment and recidivism outcomes of these programs indicates mixed results, it also suggests several avenues toward achieving greater success. One of these is the subject of this technical assistance brief: family engagement.
Family impacts every part of a young person’s life, and a youth’s substance use treatment in the juvenile justice context is no exception. Successful family involvement in a youth’s juvenile drug treatment court program may play a central role in achieving a positive program outcome, but until now there has been no overarching set of recommendations on how to effectively engage families in the juvenile drug treatment court process.

To access the report, click here.

Screening and Assessment of Co-Occurring Disorders In the Juvenile Justice System

This monograph examines a wide range of evidence-based practices for screening and assessment of people in the justice system who have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders (CODs). Use of evidence-based approaches for screening and assessment is likely to result in more accurate matching of offenders to treatment services and more effective treatment and supervision outcomes (Shaffer, 2011). This monograph is intended as a guide for clinicians, case managers, program and systems administrators, community supervision staff, jail and prison booking and healthcare staff, law enforcement, court personnel, researchers, and others who are interested in developing and operating effective programs for justice-involved individuals who have CODs. Key systemic and clinical challenges are discussed, as well as state-of-the art approaches for conducting screening and assessment.

To access the full report, click here.

Facilitating Access to Health Care Coverage for Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth
This report outlines federal and state eligibility, enrollment, and outreach strategies that can help facilitate seamless coverage for system-involved youth. Adoption of these initiatives has the potential to improve the lives of juvenile justice-involved youth and their families, increase their ability to remain in the community, and ultimately, reduce recidivism. Key to the success of these strategies will be ongoing collaboration between the multiple state and federal agencies that interact with the juvenile justice population.
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Better Solutions for Youth with Mental Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System” from the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change
Whenever safe and appropriate, youth with mental health needs should be prevented from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place. For youth who do enter the system, a first option should be to refer them to effective treatment within the community. For those few who require placement, it is important to ensure that they have access to effective services while in care to help them re-enter society successfully. There’s no denying that these outcomes come with practical challenges. But we know that reform is possible – with the right people collaborating to build systems that help communities improve the way they respond to youth with mental health needs. The aim of this paper is to encourage and support other communities to work toward similar reform for these youth.
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Mother’s at the Gate: How a Positive Family Movement is Transforming the Juvenile Justice System

As of 2013, more than 54,000 juveniles were incarcerated in juvenile detention, correction, or other residential facilities.9 While this represents a significant decrease from highs in the 1990s, the U.S. still locks up far more of its children than do other countries — 18 times more than France and five times more than South Africa, for instance. Given these numbers, it may not be surprising that a movement of family members — particularly mothers — is developing around the country, a movement that aims to challenge both the conditions in which their loved ones are held and the fact of mass incarceration itself. This report reflects an initial effort to map that movement and to distill the shared wisdom of its leaders.

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Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in Juvenile and Adults Criminal Justice Systems
As states work to ensure that limited resources are used efficiently to protect public safety, they need to develop a strategy for addressing the distinct needs of young adults under juvenile or adult criminal justice system supervision. To help state and local officials advance this goal, this issue brief:
– Highlights how young adults are distinct from youth and older adults
– Identifies young adults’ distinct needs, summarizing the limited research available on what works to address these needs, and detailing the unintentional barriers imposed by states to getting these needs met
– Provides recommendations for the steps the policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes for young adults
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Students with Disabilities and the Juvenile Justice System: What Parents Need to Know
Youth with disabilities are at a higher risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. Numerous studies show that special education students and those with emotional or behavioral disorders or learning disabilities are arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than their nondisabled peers.1 A 2005 national survey of education services in juvenile corrections found that on average, 33 percent of youth in the education programs were receiving special education services.2 The study also found that almost 20 percent of the youth with emotional and behavioral disorders were arrested while in secondary school, approximately 13 percent of juvenile offenders had developmental disabilities, and 36 percent had learning disabilities.3 Many of these young people are referred to the corrections system directly from school.
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Navigating the Juvenile Justice System in New Jersey: A Family Guide
These “voices” tell the stories of real families. Some families had good experiences. Others did not. Every family member and youth who contributed a “voice” came to the point at which they could talk about and share their experiences with others. Some of these voices are from adults, and some are from youth. Even though your experiences may be different, these families have contributed their stories so that you will know how they felt. We hope their stories will be helpful.
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Parents Guide Navigating the Juvenile Justice System – In Pennsylvania
The juvenile justice process can be confusing for anyone.  The purpose of this guide is to help parents and guardians better understand the juvenile justice process.  This guide walks parents and guardians through each stage of the process and points out the places where a parent’s input is especially important.
This guide provides general information about the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania. Certain juvenile justice policies may be slightly different from county to county. However, under the law, all children have important rights that should be protected in every courtroom and in every county.
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Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Youth in Contact With the Juvenile Justice System in Systems of Care
Each year, more than 2 million children, youth, and young adults formally come into contact with the juvenile justice system, while millions more are at risk of involvement with the system for myriad reasons (Puzzanchera, 2009; Puzzanchera & Kang, 2010). Of those children, youth, and young adults, a large number (65–70 percent) have at least one diagnosable mental health need, and 20–25 percent have serious emotional issues (Shufelt & Cocozza, 2006; Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Dulcan, & Mericle, 2002; Wasserman, McReynolds, Lucas, Fisher, & Santos, 2002). System of care communities focusing on meeting the mental health and related needs of this population through comprehensive community-based services and supports have the opportunity to not only develop an understanding around the unique challenges this population presents, but also to decide how best to overcome those challenges through planned and thoughtful programs, strong interagency collaboration, and sustained funding.
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Transition Age Youth With Mental Health Challenges in the Juvenile Justice System
The term transition age youth refers to individuals aged 16 to 25 years. For the purposes of this review, we focus on ages 16 to 21, as this is the period during which transition age youth are likely to be involved with the juvenile justice system. Also for our purposes, our definition of mental health problems includes diagnosable mental health disorders exclusive of developmental disorders and mental health diagnoses due to a physical health problem. Substance use disorders will not be included in this definition but will be discussed as a common co-occurring condition. The most common mental health disorders among youth in the juvenile justice system are disruptive behavior disorders (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder), anxiety disorders (e.g.,posttraumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder), and mood disorders (e.g., major depression, bipolar disorder) (Skowyra & Cocozza, 2007). However, there is an important distinction between disruptive behavior disorders and other mental health problems for transition age youth. A disruptive behavior disorder diagnosis allows minors to access services in the child mental health system, but adults presenting solely with a disruptive behavior disorder are explicitly denied coverage in the adult mental health system (Davis & Koroloff, 2006). Thus, transition age youth with primarily behavioral disorders are often in the position of losing access to mental health services as they age out of child systems. Because this is an important problem for justice involved transition age youth, differentiation between disruptive behavior and other disorders will be made throughout this review.
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Young Offenders: What Happens And What Should Happen
This bulletin examines policies that affect young offenders who cross over from the juvenile to the criminal justice system. It focuses on adolescence and early adulthood, with a particular emphasis on juvenile delinquents ages 15-17 who are candidates for transitioning into the criminal justice system and young adults ages 18-24 who are already in the criminal justice system.
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Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth

Incarcerated youth die by suicide at a rate two to three times higher than that of youth in the general population. In this bulletin, the authors examine suicidal thoughts and behaviors among 1,829 youth ages 10 to 18 in the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL.

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Behavioral Health Problems, Treatment, and Outcomes in Serious Youthful Offenders
The Pathways to Desistance study followed more than 1,300 serious youthful offenders for 7 years after their court involvement. In this bulletin, the authors investigate the overlap between behavioral health problems and the risk of future offending and the delivery of mental health services to young offenders in institutions and after release.
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Improving Diversion Policies and Programs for Justice-Involved Youth with Co-occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders
To support dissemination of models with demonstrated effectiveness for addressing the needs of youth with behavioral health disorders, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Foundation) and the Substance  Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) collaborated on an initiative designed to increase the number of youth diverted out of the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based programs and services. This project was coordinated by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Associates, Inc., and the Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. Key partners who participated in planning and technical assistance activities included Advocates for Youth and Family Behavioral Health Treatment, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, the Center for Innovative Practices at Begun Center for Violence Prevention, and the National Youth Screening and Assistance Project.
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Law Enforcement’s Leadership Role in Juvenile Justice Reform
Police officers are usually the first contact that young people have with the juvenile justice system. And yet in many communities, law enforcement leaders have not been part of the discussion on juvenile justice reform and the development of policies and practices addressing youth. Sometimes it is because they may not see their agency as part of the juvenile justice system. However, it is often because others in the community working with young people—schools, service providers, legal professionals and others—have not embraced their involvement. The National Summit on Law Enforcement Leadership in Juvenile Justice was designed as a way to bridge that divide.
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Peer Support within Criminal Justice Settings: The Role of Forensic Peer Specialists
This brief explores the role of peer to peer support in criminal justice settings, defining Forensic Peer Specialists and their impact on addressing mental health issues and linkages between systems.
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Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blue Print
Description: Federal statistics from 2011 indicate that the number of youth held under lock and key dropped 25 percent over the past decade, and by more than half in some states. Jurisdictions are using evidence-based interventions in community settings for many youth, and those youth who are confined are being better prepared to pursue educational and vocational opportunities upon their release.
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Systems of Care Programs that Serve Youth Involved with the Juvenile Justice System – Funding and Sustainability
The short‐term nature of grant funding in general and the sizable amount of funds awarded through the system of care program, make securing sustainable, post-grant funding very challenging. This can be especially difficult for programs that serve youth involved with the juvenile justice system for a variety of reasons. This brief describes the key elements associated with sustainability planning for mental health‐juvenile justice collaborations, and details existing juvenile justice funding sources that could be tapped to support programs.
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Parent Partnership Program – From the Courthouse to the Statehouse
When a child is separated from a parent due to allegations of abuse and/or neglect, the separation is usually sudden. Often the parent is confused about the child welfare process and unclear about the road to reunification. Although the court appoints an attorney to represent the parent, that attorney does not always have the time to explain the process, answer questions, and guide the parent through the services ordered by the court. “Parent partners,” who have experienced the system and reunified with their child(ren), are emerging in many communities to guide and support parents involved in the child welfare system. When a well-trained parent partner is involved, the respondent parent can complete the case plan requirements more quickly and the parent’s attorney can argue for reunification more effectively.
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