Juvenile Justice Reform: Finding Opportunities When Budgets are Slashed

February 9, 2011

It's easy to focus on juvenile justice reform during good times; the real test comes with budget cuts. Yet even wrenching cuts to staff and services can provide a chance to achieve lasting improvements to juvenile justice policies and programs, as this useful and inspiring roadmap makes clear.  We think Benjamin Chambers wrote the best summary of this report on Reclaiming Futures.  

 

Here’s his summary:

 Don't believe that improvements can be made despite budget cuts? The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) has just provided us all with a road map that's concrete, helpful, and surprisingly inspiring. Titled, "The Real Costs and Benefits of Change: Finding Opportunities for Reform During Difficult Fiscal Times," it's a model of cool-headed resourcefulness.

 

I don't think I can summarize its contents any more effectively than to give you a partial sneak peek at the table of contents:

Part one of the document reviews the problem; but part two -- the longest and most interesting part of this 19-page document -- covers "strategies to realign and reduce spending while maintaining progressive programming." Even better, it's packed with examples from jurisdictions that have used them.

Divided into two sections, it covers four "substantive strategies," such as,

  • "Use Downsizing as a Means to Create a New Revenue Stream;" and
  • "Redirect Funding from Adult Corrections to Progressive Youth Programming".

Six "tactical strategies" follow in the next section. Examples include:

  • "Disseminate Cost-Benefit Research that Supports Reform"; and
  • "Utilize Polling Data to Show that Public Opinion Supports Effective Rehabilitation of Youth".

The third part of the document lays out the key research that supports the deinstitutionalization of youth -- and nothing could be timelier as cash-strapped states close juvenile facilities.

 

For the full report, please click the link below.

 


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