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Measuring What Really Matters in Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2006
64 pages

This monograph presents a case for using a system of performance outcomes and measures for juvenile justice systems developed by a partnership between the American Prosecutors Research Institute, the Balanced and Restorative Justice Project, and the National Center for Juvenile Justice.


In discussing why performance should be measured, the monograph notes that in a democratic society, the general public and specific constituents of government agencies and systems should receive information about the outcomes of publicly funded activities. From a practical perspective, community members are more likely to support and participate in public processes if they are kept informed; conversely, lack of information often leads to suspicion, distrust, and possibly unwarranted criticism. In juvenile justice systems, the most important criteria for performance are measures based on a mission grounded in the core values of the agency and the community, defined overall goals and roles for staff, and the prioritization of practices and processes aimed at achieving these goals. In defining three goals for a balanced mission, the monograph first states that most citizens expect that any justice system will support fundamental community needs to sanction youth crime, rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders, and enhance public safety by assisting the community in preventing and controlling crime. The "balance approach" designates three goals of the juvenile justice system: accountability, competency, and community protection. "Accountability" requires offenders to take responsibility for their crimes and their harms to victims and the community. "Competency" refers to measurable and demonstrated improvements by offenders in educational, vocational, social, civic, and other skills that improve their ability to function as responsible, productive individuals. "Public safety" pertains to the ability of the community to prevent juvenile crime, resolve conflict, and reduce community fear. 135 references

Date Published: July 1, 2006