• Jan 1, 2009 | MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice | PUBLICATIONS

    Adolescent Legal Competence in Court

    One of the pillars of the American justice system is the assurance that those who stand accused of crimes be mentally competent to understand and participate in their trials. The conventional standard for competence has typically focused on the effects of mental illness or mental retardation on individuals’ capacities to grasp the nature of their trials or their abilities to decide how to plead. Yet as the courts, both juvenile and adult, see increasingly younger defendants some argue that the law should also take into account adolescents’ lesser capacities owing to emotional and psychological immaturity.

    This brief details findings from the first comprehensive assessment of juvenile capacities to participate in criminal proceedings using measures of both trial-related abilities and developmental maturity. The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice compared the responses of youth and adults in a series of hypothetical legal situations, such as plea bargains, police interrogations, and attorney-client interactions. Responses revealed the degree to which participants understood the long-term consequences of their decisions, their ability to weigh risks, and other factors related to developmental and cognitive maturity. Findings show that a significant portion of youth, especially under age 15, are likely unable to participate competently in their own trials, either in an adult or juvenile court, owing to developmental immaturity.

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  • Feb 29, 2016 | Models for Change | PUBLICATIONS

    Models for Change 10th Annual Working Conference Conference Highlights

    The 10th and final Models for Change Annual Working Conference was a fitting celebration of the Models for Change initiative and its many successes. Nearly 450 people, representing 46 states, attended sessions from December 13-15th, 2015 at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC.

    While the Models for Change initiative is coming to an end, we hope that the Models for Change community can remain connected. One critical component of our success together was sharing information and resources among participants at the local, state level and national level. The Resource Center Partners are continuing their work and the Models for Change website will remain a valuable resource. These resources and the spirit of collaboration we created will go a long way toward preserving our successes, mitigating threats to reform and advancing the field of juvenile justice. 

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  • Jan 1, 2009 | MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice | PUBLICATIONS

    Adolescent Legal Competence in Court

    This brief details findings from the first comprehensive assessment of juvenile capacities to participate in criminal proceedings using measures of both trial-related abilities an developmental maturity. The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice compared the responses of youth and adults in a series on hypothetical legal situations, such as plea bargains, police interrogations, and attorney-client interactions. Responses revealed the degree to which participants understood the long-term consequences of their decisions, their ability to weigh risks, and other factors related to developmental and cognitive maturity. Findings show that a significant portion of youth, especially under age 15, are likely unable to participate competently in their own trials, either in an adult or juvenile court, owing to developmental immaturity.

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  • Jan 1, 2009 | National Juvenile Defender Center | PUBLICATIONS

    Role of Juvenile Defense Counsel in Delinquency Court

    This policy paper describes the critical and specialized role of the juvenile defender and reflects best practices as defined by the field—front-line defenders, social workers, academics, and other juvenile justice advocates working in our nation’s juvenile delinquency courts every day. The goal of Role of  Juvenile Counsel in Delinquency Court is to educate judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and other juvenile justice professionals about the importance of the juvenile defender’s responsibility to advocate for the client’s expressed interests.

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  • Apr 4, 2016 | National League of Cities | PUBLICATIONS

    Research to Practice Memo: How City Leaders Can Draw Upon Adolescent Development Research Findings To Provide a Framework for Juvenile Justice Reform

    The new Research to Practice Memo: How City Leaders Can Draw Upon Adolescent Development Research Findings to Provide a Framework for Juvenile Justice Reform provides a ready resource for city leaders who want to apply the most up-to-date research on adolescence to local juvenile justice reform initiatives. Supported by a wealth of juvenile justice reform resources, cities across the country continue to reform how local agencies respond to misbehaving or delinquent youth.

    The Memo outlines how city leaders stand to reach better public safety and youth development outcomes by:

    • creating a robust continuum of community-based alternatives to the juvenile justice system,
    • making the first point of contact with police an opportunity for referral to services, and
    • using risk and needs assessments to match the right youth with the right services.

    In addition, city leaders can publicly call for their partners in county or state juvenile justice agencies to align their services and policies with research about what works for adolescents.

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  • Dec 1, 2015 | JJGPS | PUBLICATIONS

    JJGPS State Assessments of Disproportionate Minority Contact

    States are required to report data to monitor the overrepresentation of youth of color in juvenile justice. In addition to reporting data, states are required to submit an assessment of DMC to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This four page brief provides an overview which states also make these assessments publicly available and provides an overview of the challenges states faces in conducting the research and the range of reform recommendations they make.

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  • Mar 16, 2016 | Douglas Thomas, Nina Hyland, Teri Deal, Andrew Wachter, and Samantha Zaleski | PUBLICATIONS

    Evidence-Based Policies, Programs, and Practices in Juvenile Justice: Three States Achieving High Standards Through State Support Centers

    Evidence-Based Policies, Programs and Practices in Juvenile Justice (13 pages) provides case studies of three jurisdictions achieving high standards through state support centers. The jurisdictions were selected based on a 50-state survey of efforts to support evidence-based policies, programs and practices (EBPs) and selects examples that reflect an evolution toward greater sophistication and support for EBPs.  

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  • Dec 21, 2015 | National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice | PUBLICATIONS

    Strengthening Our Future: Key Elements to Developing a Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice Diversion Program for Youth with Behavioral Health Conditions

    Diverting youth from the juvenile justice system to effective community-based services and supports will require systems that recognize and respond to trauma-related disorders. These include the front-end gatekeepers and decision makers (i.e., probation departments and courts), as well as the full array of community agencies that can provide healing, treatment, and support to youth and their families.

    This report is intended to offer a description of a trauma-informed juvenile justice diversion approach with examples of how some states are beginning to address and implement trauma-informed systems of care for youth and their families. It begins with a discussion of trauma and its effects on youth, especially those with behavioral health conditions. This is followed by a discussion of the types of trauma-related disorders, the behavioral manifestations of trauma that youth may display, and a summary of factors that affect the severity of trauma-related disorders. The report then describes nine key elements of a trauma-informed approach within the context of juvenile justice diversion. Case examples are included from each of the states participating in the 2014-15 Policy Academy–Action Network Initiative.

    This initiative, coordinated by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) and the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), was jointly funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Foundation). As part of SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiative on Trauma and Justice and the Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative, this effort focused on improving policies and programs for diverting youth with behavioral health conditions from the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based services and supports. 

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  • Dec 8, 2015 | Wendy Nussbaum, M.A., LCPC, Stuart M. Berry, M.S.W., LISW, Shannon Hartnett, M.A., Gina M. Vincent, Ph.D. | PUBLICATIONS

    Adolescent Domestic Battery Typology Tool Manual

    There has been an increase in the number of youth referred to the juvenile justice system for charges related to abusing their parents. The Adolescent Domestic Battery Typologies Tool (ADBTT) was developed over the span of five years to provide a greater understanding of these youth. It was designed using a combination of the available research literature, a multi-site validation study, and clinical experience to fill a niche in the assessment of a population that has not been well understood. This assessment tool provides a structured framework to help inform case processing, dispositional, and treatment decisions based on an assessment of youths’ risk for future Adolescent Domestic Battery (ADB). Implementation of the ADBTT early in the juvenile justice process should lead to diverting the “right” youths away from formal processing with minimum intervention.

    Read the executive summary. 

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  • Feb 15, 2016 | Institute for Public Health and Justice | PUBLICATIONS

    A Legislated Study of Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in Louisiana

    Louisiana should strongly consider raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-old offenders. Findings suggest that this change would benefit public safety, promote youth rehabilitation, and create long-term savings.

    Crime by youthful offenders continues to trouble Louisiana communities but at reduced rates according to arrest trends over the last decade. This reduction in juvenile crime, accompanied with several reforms in the justice system, has created a smaller and more resilient juvenile justice system. Appropriately resourced, it should be able to absorb the impact of raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction while increasing public safety.

    This study, authorized by the Louisiana State Legislature in House Concurrent Resolution No. 73 of the 2015 Regular session, was completed at an expedited pace over a six-month period to meet the deadlines established in the resolution. With the involvement of key stakeholders in the justice system from across Louisiana and input from national partners who have worked to study raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in other states, three key findings of this study are summarized below.

    • There is a growing consensus, based on a large body of scientific evidence, that 17-year-olds are developmentally different than adults and should be treated as such. They have a far greater potential for rehabilitation and are particularly influenced – for good or ill – by the environments in which they are placed. 
    • The last several years of reform in the Louisiana juvenile justice system have created a capacity to accept, manage, and rehabilitate these youth in a manner that will predictably generate better outcomes than the adult system. 
    • The initial impact projections are generally lower than states that have recently gone before Louisiana in raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, and those states found that the impact on the system was substantially less than first predicted. In fact, states have reported substantial fiscal savings. We have reason to suspect this will be the same for Louisiana.

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