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Comprehensive Juvenile Justice in State Legislatures

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1998
Publication Series
This teleconference video presents panel presentations and call-in questions pertinent to the enactment of comprehensive juvenile justice legislation in State legislatures, with attention to juvenile delinquency prevention and early intervention, graduated sanctions and restorative justice, and the management of serious and violent young offenders.
Three panelists provide an overview of the elements of comprehensive juvenile justice legislation. The presentations address the following goals of a comprehensive framework for juvenile justice: to strengthen families; support core institutions to reduce risk factors; counter risk factors with protective factors; intervene when delinquency first occurs; establish graduated sanctions that hold offenders accountable while providing services; and identify and control the small segment of serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders. Three panelists discuss legislative action pertinent to juvenile delinquency prevention and early intervention. Panelists note that a number of State legislatures are supporting programs and service coordination efforts that allow school-age children and youth to remedy problems before they escalate into serious criminal behavior. Legislatures are establishing policy frameworks that encourage broad-based, collaborative prevention and intervention, including comprehensive services often provided in school or neighborhood-based centers. The range of services includes recreation, conflict resolution, family support, structured mentoring, supervised after-school programs, truancy intervention, and job preparation. Three panelists consider legislation that focuses on graduated sanctions and restorative justice for juveniles. The panelists note that although few States have statutorily provided the means for applying various levels of sanctions and treatment as part of a comprehensive juvenile justice system, recent reforms in several States include a structure for graduated sanctions, including Connecticut, Oregon, and Texas. A graduated system of sanctions might include immediate sanctions (e.g., diversion and day treatment); intermediate sanctions (residential and nonresidential programs); secure corrections; and structured aftercare programs. Three panelists discuss a legislative response to serious and violent juvenile offenders. Efforts to develop appropriate responses to such offenders include managing juveniles as adults (waivers to the adult system), creating "third systems" (a compromise between placing offenders in either the juvenile or adult systems), and support for specialized programming for violent and serious juvenile offenders within the juvenile system.

Date Published: February 1, 1998