Juvenile Justice

CSG Midwest

Since 2015, a big change has occurred in how South Dakota handles young people in its juvenile justice system. “Some of these kids didn’t need to go to a juvenile detention center,” Rep. Julie Bartling says about the thinking behind the legislation passed that year (SB 73). “They just needed a little more support.”

Three years later, the state is starting to see results from this shift.
According to Kristi Bunkers, director of juvenile services for the Department of Corrections, the greatest advance has been the statewide expansion of three evidence-based programs that allow young people to receive treatment in the community rather than being detained at a residential facility or correctional center. For example, through a three- to five-month-long intervention program known as Functional Family Therapy, a young person and his or her family work through family conflicts while addressing problems of drug abuse or a range of antisocial behaviors. Of the South Dakota families who completed the program last year, 92 percent demonstrated positive behavioral change.
Like South Dakota, many states have been re-examining and, in some cases, overhauling their juvenile justice systems in recent years.
CSG Midwest
A year after a report showed the extent to which the state’s expungement policies have failed juveniles with criminal records, Illinois lawmakers simplified the process for young people and also strengthened confidentiality protections.
Dos and Don’ts for Reducing Recidivism Among Young Adults in the Justice System

This resource presents a concrete list of dos and don’ts that policymakers and justice system leaders can use to guide policy and practice changes focused on young adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Nevada’s Statewide Approach to Reducing Recidivism and Improving Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

As a result of participating in Improving Outcomes for Youth: A Statewide Juvenile Justice Initiative (IOYouth), Nevada passed legislation that supports the adoption and implementation of key policy and practice changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. This report summarizes the IOYouth process in Nevada, key findings from the CSG Justice Center’s comprehensive assessment of Nevada’s juvenile justice system, and AB472, the bill that Nevada’s legislature passed to address the challenges identified in the assessment.

This report draws on the experience of five states to present strategies that all states can use to achieve significant reductions in their use of suspensions. The report also offers recommendations for applying a data-driven approach to ensure that school discipline reforms not only reduce suspensions, but also foster supportive learning environments and ultimately improve outcomes for all students.

With the advancement of research showing how young adults are developmentally different from youth and older adults, state leaders are introducing policies and practices intended to tailor approaches that can improve outcomes for this population and increase public safety.

Justice Nancy Saitta was elected in 2006 to the Nevada Supreme Court, where she served as chief justice from September 2011 to May 2012. A former prosecutor and municipal and state district court judge, Saitta has been a tireless advocate for children, youth and juvenile justice reform. Saitta retired her seat on the Nevada Supreme Court in August, but remains a senior justice and will continue to fight for the state’s children and youth as chair of the state Blue Ribbon for Kids Commission, the Coalition to Combat Criminal Sexual Exploitation of Children and the Juvenile Justice Reform Commission. Saitta serves as co-chair of the CSG Interbranch Affairs Committee and is a 2009 CSG Toll Fellow.

By Emily Morgan and Katy Albis
People between the ages of 18 and 24—often referred to as young adults—are generally considered to be undergoing a period of transition. According to a 2015 CSG Justice Center brief, Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems, research shows that young adults have tendencies that are distinct from those of both youth and older adults: Although young adults are more cognitively developed than youth, compared to older adults, they are more impulsive, less emotionally mature and less cognizant of the consequences of their actions. Many young adults also lack engagement in school and work, face mental health and substance use issues, are disconnected from family and other caring adults, and experience homelessness—all factors that put them at risk of justice system involvement.

CSG Midwest

Kansas will cut by three-fifths the number of juvenile offenders sent to out-of-state facilities, under legislation (SB 367) signed into law in April by Gov. Sam Brownback. The law resulted from recommendations issued in November 2015 by a bipartisan working group that included members from the legislative, executive and judicial branches. (The group also got assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice.) 

CSG Midwest

According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, every state has a set of “age boundaries” that help determine jurisdiction in these cases — in particular, whether they should go through juvenile court or criminal court. As of 2014, most U.S. states (41) set the “upper age” of juvenile court jurisdiction at 17. This age limit, though, is lower in two Midwestern states: Wisconsin and Michigan, where the upper age for juvenile court jurisdiction is only...

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