Juvenile Justice & Youth Violence

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James C. Howell

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  • Part I: Part I

    Part II: PART II

  • Dedication

    To my mom, Ethel, my dad, J. C., my sisters, Annette and Lynda, my wife Karen, our daughter, Megan, and adolescents who are victims of philosophical changes in the administration of juvenile justice.

    Copyright

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    Preface

    Part I of this book takes stock of juvenile justice and youth violence in the United States. The first chapter chronicles the origins and evolution of the juvenile justice system, a uniquely American invention. It would be presumptuous of me to expect that my recounting of that intellectual history improves on Finestone's (1976) masterful account in his classic book, Victims of Change. No such pretention exists. Rather, I thought it would be useful to put recent developments in the administration of juvenile justice in the United States into a historical context.

    The contributions of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to juvenile justice are reviewed (Chapter 2) against the intellectual history backdrop of the uniquely American juvenile justice system. I hope that my brief summary of historical events aids understanding of the current state of juvenile justice. I also hope that future juvenile justice reformers will benefit in some way from knowledge of recent changes to the juvenile justice system in this country. As Santayana (1948, p. 284) admonished, “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Chapter 3 is the first of three chapters that provide an analysis of youth violence and the responses of our society to this form of juvenile delinquency. Adult and juvenile contributions to the total volume of violent crime are examined in an attempt to answer the question, Who's to blame for violent crime? Juvenile delinquency trends are then reviewed (Chapter 4) to assess the extent and nature of violent behavior and juvenile justice system responses.

    A key premise guiding this assessment is that care must be taken in selecting indicators of increasing juvenile violent behavior versus how society responds to juvenile delinquency. Chapter 5 reviews a major change in the administration of juvenile justice: transfer of adolescents to the criminal justice system and confinement in adult prisons. I assess research on the results of this development.

    In Part II of the book, modifications in U.S. delinquency policies are proposed. Part II begins (Chapter 6) with a review of current knowledge of youth gang homicides and drug trafficking. This form of violent youth crime is chosen as a starting point in revising juvenile delinquency policies because gang violence represents a major proportion of juvenile violence. Surprisingly, few gang-related homicides are related to gang drug trafficking. I suggest, therefore, that a clearer understanding of risk factors for youth violence is needed (Chapter 7), and present a methodology for improving our understanding of violence: developmental criminology (Chapter 8). Part II concludes (Chapter 9) with a recommended strategy for dealing with serious, violent, and chronic delinquency.

    The conclusions of this book are not suspenseful, though they may come as a surprise to many readers. Part I shows, through a detailed assessment, that the juvenile contributions to violence in the United States are small and that a significant increase has not occurred, except for homicides; most of that increase may be accounted for by youth gangs. Because of a philosophical shift in crime policy, reliance on the wrong information, and misguided perceptions, juvenile crime policies in the United States have taken an unfortunate turn—with deleterious outcomes. Part II demonstrates a major misunderstanding of the most violent delinquency, homicides. A way of achieving a more precise understanding of the evolution of serious and violent juvenile offender careers is offered. A comprehensive strategy is suggested for developing more effective prevention programs, achieving a better match between offender characteristics and treatment programs, and developing a more cost-effective juvenile justice system.

    Acknowledgments

    I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of good people who helped bring this book to life. At Sage, my Editor, Terry Hendrix, gave me the encouragement I sought to develop this volume. His able assistant, Dale Grenfell, sheparded it along. Sherrise Purdum expertly managed its production, A. J. Sobczak, copy editor for Sage, performed the feat of identifying and helping me resolve discrepancies in references and source material. My research of the literature on serious, violent, chronic juvenile offenders was greatly aided by Phyllis Schultze, Librarian of the Criminal Justice and National Council on Crime and Delinquency collection at Rutgers University. She generously facilitated my access to this wonderful library of juvenile and criminal justice literature. I am also indebted to Barry Krisberg, President, NCCD, for making this invaluable resource available to me. Many of my colleagues helped enormously to improve the manuscript. Discussions with Hunter Hurst, Director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, gave me a number of ideas for Chapters three and four, which Melissa Sickmund at NCJJ later reviewed carefully and helped me correct a number of interpretative errors. Other NCJJ staff also facilitated access to and helped me understand the enormous collection of statistical information NCJJ has amassed in the National Juvenile Court Data Archive, and in other projects: Howard Snyder, Richard Gable, Melissa Sickmund, and Jeffrey Butts. I am especially indebted to Hunter Hurst, for permitting my extensive use of material NCJJ generated on juvenile delinquency and adult criminality, and juvenile and criminal justice system handling of offenders in the book, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: A National Report (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995), and the update of it, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1996 Update on Violence (Snyder, Sickmund, & Poe-Yamagata, 1996). Howard Snyder and Melissa Sickmund at the NCJJ not only encouraged my use of their outstanding compilation of data and statistical review, but also facilitated my access to data files. I also thank the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Developmental Research and Programs, Inc., Cambridge University Press, and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for permission to reprint previously published material. An earlier version of chapter five was published in Law and Policy (1996, vol. 18, pp. 17–60, titled “Juvenile Transfers to the Criminal Justice System”). I am grateful to the editors of that volume, Barry Feld and Simon Singer for excellent ideas for improvements. Donna Hamparian, Barry Krisberg, and Elizabeth McNulty also reviewed early drafts and gave me helpful comments and suggestions. I am also indebted to Barry Krisberg and Dominic Del Rosario at NCCD for analyses on serious and violent juvenile offenders in juvenile and adult correctional systems they provided for this chapter. Chapter six is a compilation from two products developed under the support of the National Youth Gang Center in Tallahassee. Bruce Buckley and John Moore at the Center performed thorough reviews of draft products, greatly helping me to improve them. Carolyn Block, Lee Colwell, David Curry, Wes McBride, Cheryl Maxson, Joan Moore, Walter Miller, Jim Short, and Irving Spergel also provided valuable reviews of my original products for the National Youth Gang Center. Richard Catalano reviewed chapters seven and eight, and was of enormous help with suggestions for their reorganization. He and David Hawkins kindly authorized extensive use of their written material on the Social Development Model (in chapter eight), for which I am grateful. Rolf Loeber also reviewed chapter eight and made many helpful suggestions for improvements. John Wilson, Deputy Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, co-authored with me the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders. I am indebted to him for his Comprehensive Strategy vision, intellectual stimulation and the pleasure of working with him on it while I was at OJJDP. We enjoyed two decades of challenging work on juvenile justice at OJJDE He and I are both indebted to Shay Bilchik, Administrator, OJJDP, for facilitating adoption of the Comprehensive Strategy in communities and states across the country. Finally, and most important, I am very grateful to my wife, Karen, and our daughter, Megan, for graciously tolerating extended periods of time I spent at my computer. Karen helped analyze a number of issues with which I wrestled. She also reviewed portions of the manuscript, and politely encouraged me to simplify the material. Despite all this valuable assistance, no doubt there are errors of omission and commission in this book. For these, I accept full responsibility.

    JamesC.Howell, Herndon, Virginia, April, 1997
  • Conclusion: Return to Rationality

    The United States is experiencing a peculiar and unsettling period in its juvenile delinquency policy. Americans, especially politicians, are overreacting to a new generation of adolescents, one that presumably more than ever before resorts quickly to violent responses. “From antiquity every generation has entertained the opinion that many if not most of its youth are the most vicious in the history of the race … our ancestors also saw their world disintegrating under assaults from juvenile barbarians” (Hamparian, Schuster, Dinitz, & Conrad, 1978, p. 11). A measure of reality should be gained in recognizing that, in any generation, adolescents mirror the behavior of their adult role models—sometimes aggressive, violence-prone, or given to taking matters in their own hands. Violent adult responses in everyday life are growing: use of guns to gain the right-of-way on highways, running others off the road by aggressive driving, growing domestic violence, growing child abuse and infant homicides, and growing violence in the workplace. The adult murder happens 10 times more often than the juvenile murder.

    Some observers argue that political leaders merely follow the public will; voters are outraged by crime and want tougher policies (DiIulio, 1992). “This is a half-truth that gets the causal order backwards” (Tonry, 1994b, p. 490). As Tonry explains, public opinion polls for many years have shown that the public expresses sentiments for both punishment and treatment. Frustrated about crime, citizens want offenders punished. At the same time, surveys show that the public wants government to rehabilitate offenders, especially juveniles, because citizens understand that crime has its main sources in troubled families, poverty, and social injustice. Conservative politicians stress public support of punishment and ignore public support of rehabilitation and the recognition that crime presents complex, not easy, challenges. “By presenting crime control issues only in emotional, stereotyped ways, conservative politicians have raised its salience as a political issue but made it impossible for their opponents to respond other than in the same stereotyped ways” (Tonry, 1994b, p. 491).

    It seems that lawmakers hold views with respect to treatment of juveniles that are at odds not only with the public but also with juvenile justice professionals. The latter continue to exercise their belief that rehabilitation holds the most promise. ‘Anyone who has spent much time talking with judges or corrections officials knows that most, whatever their political affiliations, do not believe that harsher penalties significantly enhance public safety” (Tonry, 1994b, p. 477). In a recent survey of 540 police chiefs (Broder, 1996), only 14% of them favored trying more juveniles as adults and sentencing more of them to adult prisons. Ideologues, undaunted by overwhelming evidence of effective juvenile justice programs, persist in their claim that the juvenile justice system is not effective and continue to call for increased punishment of juveniles.

    How can the extreme punitiveness of U.S. delinquency policy be explained? It is partly explained by the general philosophical shift in crime policy from treatment to punishment. Perhaps more important, the United States appears to be in a state of “moral panic” over juvenile violence. Cohen (1980, p. 9) described the stages of this extreme form of societal reaction:

    Societies appear to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic. A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible.

    Panics in relation to social issues can be understood in the context of a philosophical cyclical process, for example, what Bernard (1992) calls “the cycle of juvenile justice,” which alternates between treatment-oriented and punishment-oriented policies and programs. In an analysis of Massachusetts' juvenile reforms, Miller and colleagues (1977a, 1977b) described this process. At the risk of oversimplifying their analysis, once policies move to the extreme in a given direction, the other side rises up in a state of “moral panic” and promotes a crisis, marshals its forces, and attempts to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. If they are successful and go to the extreme in implementing their reforms, the losing side eventually will rise up and repeat the process.

    A case in point of the extremes to which laws can go is “asset forfeiture” laws, an instrument of the War on Drugs. The Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of these laws, which allow law enforcement agencies to seize cars, boats, homes, and other properties used in some connection with criminal drug trafficking—prior to conviction of the alleged offender (Biskupic, 1996). A defendant, Guy Jerome Ursery, was caught growing marijuana on his land. Law enforcement agencies seized his home. He argued double jeopardy, contending that he was punished twice for the same offense. The Supreme Court ruled against him, in an 8 to 1 vote. Speaking for the majority, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist reasoned that the government did not violate Ursery's constitutional right against double jeopardy because the civil action was taken against his home, not him. His house was deemed guilty.

    The current panic is the third in the child and adolescent area in the past 15 years. “Missing children” was the first one. In the early 1980s, a panic was created over stranger abductions of children. It was triggered by the mysterious abduction of Adam Walsh in Florida (which has not yet been solved). Astronomical estimates of the prevalence of this problem were fed to the media: Some 20,000–50,000 children were said to be abducted by strangers each year, whose cases remain unsolved by the end of the year (Jay Howell, quoted in Scardino, 1985). Among the stranger abductions, an estimated 2,000 unidentified dead children were said to be buried in unmarked graves each year in this country prior to 1982 (Walsh, 1984). These numbers led to the establishment of a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Public service announcements depicted children disappearing from playgrounds, presumably abducted by strangers in black luxury cars, clad in trenchcoats, and armed with pornographic pictures. Near national hysteria ensued (Treanor, 1986a). Photographs of missing children appeared everywhere—on television, on grocery bags, on milk cartons, and in public places. Children across the country were fingerprinted and otherwise provided permanent identification for fear of being abducted by strangers.

    The extent of the “missing” children problem was challenged from many quarters (see Treanor, 1986b), including a Pulitzer Prize-winning expose (Griego & Klizer, 1985) of the “numbers gap,” pointing out that the FBI investigated only 67 stranger abductions of children in 1984. The NCMEC lowered its estimate to 4,000 to 20,000 stranger abductions per year, “but the early estimates had a life of their own” (Best, 1988, p. 85). As it turns out, a National Incidence Study of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (Finkelhor et al., 1990) debunked all the unrealistic estimates, finding that 99% of an estimated 359,000 child abductions each year were family-related. In 81% of the cases, parents said they knew where their children were. An estimated 300–4,600 kidnappings and abductions each year were believed to involve nonfamily members. The study report and other data sources led to the conclusion that only 52–100 children were kidnapped and murdered by strangers each year (OJJDP, 1989). The “found facts” (Sweet, 1990) helped quell the panic. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children still exists, providing information and technical assistance mainly on runaways, sexually exploited children, and family abductions.

    Youth gangs were the target of the second moral panic. It began in the Southwest. In the late 1970s, Phoenix police estimated that the city's gangs grew from 50–60 to 100–120 inside of a 6-month period (Zatz, 1987). As shown in Chapter 6, in the mid-1980s youth gangs were depicted as the primary agents in the crack cocaine epidemic. They were believed to be spreading all over the country, setting up satellite operations. This perception led to panic. In Los Angeles, police launched an antigang sweep called Operation Hammer (see Klein, 1995), using more than a thousand police officers to round up nearly 1,500 apparent gang members, resulting in only 32 felony charges. When fires smoldered in riot-torn sections of Los Angeles in 1992, juvenile gangs were blamed for much of the violence (Hunzeker, 1993). Police in Nebraska, trained by California police, today talk of the spread of gangs from California to their state. Their perception is that whatever gang problems California has today, Nebraska will have in 5 years. The recent national gang migration study (Maxson et al., 1995) dispels these myths. As Klein (1995, p. 96) put it, gangs are “homegrown problems.” How soon the empirical evidence will change erroneous perceptions about gangs remains to be seen.

    The current panic is juvenile “superpredators,” who “will be flooding the nation's streets” and “will come at us in waves over the next 20 years” (Dilulio, 1996, p. 25). They are “fatherless, Godless, and jobless juvenile superpredators” who have already begun to arrive on Florida's streets, and “the next crime storm will hit Florida many times harder than the crack epidemic did, and it will do more damage. The only real question is how the damage can be minimized. Time is running out” (Dilulio, 1996, p. 25). Others convey similar messages that stimulate panic. “Our nation faces a future juvenile violence problem that may make today's epidemic pale in comparison” (Fox, 1996, p. 3). “There is, however, still time to stem the tide, and to avert the coming wave of teen violence. But time is of the essence” (p. i).

    The current overreaction to juveniles is more complex than the previous moral panics. It is rooted in the “conflict cycle” described by Brendtro and Long (1994, p. 4). The public (adults), outraged by youth violence, becomes hooked into conflict cycles. In the first stage, stress evokes irrational beliefs such as the view that nothing can be done to influence youth violence. Adults fear adolescents because of a feeling that we cannot control them, thus feeling helpless and impotent. In the second stage, helplessness triggers distressed, furious feelings.

    The natural human response in such situations is to “down-shift” our brains from rational thought to lower brain survival mechanisms of fight/flight. If the adult cannot escape from the source of stress, the likely response is anger and rage. Rage is a primitive hostile feeling which drives adults to want to get even. The person in this state is a blink away from striking out at the slightest provocation. (p. 4)

    Feelings drive behavior in the third stage. The behavioral response is “make the transgressor suffer.” Righteous rage occurs when juveniles' offending behavior so violates adults' values of decency that we feel justified in punishing the offending adolescents. A primitive part of us even “enjoys” punishment. In the fourth stage, punishment provokes a reaction. Harsh punishment increases the likelihood of counteraggression, triggering more rage on the part of the juvenile. Feeling that he was treated unfairly, even though guilty, sets the stage for further aggression against society. “Violence begets violence,” thus completing the cycle (p. 4).

    Our society's punitive behavior in response to furious feelings toward juveniles, expressed in such mantras as “do adult crime; do adult time” and “treat them as adults” (Hunzeker, 1995), places growing numbers of juveniles at risk of harm in prisons. That juveniles in adult prisons suffer rape, aggravated assault, sexual assault, attacks with weapons, and beatings by staff at a far greater rate than juveniles who remain in the comparatively benign environment of a training school (Forst et al., 1989) appears to be ignored. Condoning such inhumane treatment of adolescents can be understood only in the context of the cycle of conflict that Brendtro and Long describe. Righteous rage blinds us to the consequences of our actions.

    Outsiders have noticed that the U.S. public is engulfed in the cycle of conflict described by Brendtro and Long (1994). In an article in the London Economist, titled “Violent and Irrational—And That's Just the Policy” (1996), the editors view with incredulity the fact that the U.S. imprisonment rate is seven times as high as in the average European country. American policy, however, is not supported by evidence that imprisonment effectively reduces the level of crime or by cost-benefit arguments.

    Practitioners and scholars have long known that manipulation of penalties has little, if any, effect on crime rates (Tonry, 1994b, pp. 476–477). Three expert advisory bodies in the United States have drawn this same conclusion, each little more than a decade apart, in the past 30 years, after reviewing the scientific evidence (President's Commission of Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, 1967a; National Academy of Sciences Panel on Research on Deterrent and Incapacitative Effects, 1978; National Academy of Sciences Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior—Reiss & Roth, 1993). A Canadian Sentencing Commission (1987) drew the same conclusion, that the empirical basis does not support using deterrence to guide the imposition of sanctions. Tonry (1994b, p. 479) concludes that “a fair-minded survey of existing knowledge provides no grounds for believing that the War on Drugs or the harsh policies exemplified by ‘three strikes and you're out’ laws and evidenced by a tripling in America's prison population since 1980 could achieve their ostensible purposes.” Why then, do we persist? Caught up in the cycle of conflict, we are unable to see the faults in our crime and delinquency policies. Like the difficulty of seeing the long-term positive benefits of prevention and early intervention programs, the long-term negative benefits of punitive policies are not easily comprehended. These punitive policies may be the surest way to create a truly “dangerous class” (Sampson & Laub, 1993).

    Before the current wave of tougher criminal court sanctions on juveniles could be played out, juvenile arrests for violent crimes dropped. The violent juvenile arrest rate declined 4% from 1994 to 1995 (FBI, 1996). The juvenile arrest rate for murder leveled off earlier, in 1991 (Snyder et al., 1996), before the spate of get-tough legislation began in 1992. The attorney general suggested that we may not have to face a juvenile crime wave after all (Johnson, 1996; Johnson & Fields, 1996; Suro, 1996). Fox allowed that his doomsday forecast (1996) might be wrong and admitted that part of what he was trying to do involved getting the public's attention (Johnson, 1996).

    Unfortunately for juveniles, much damage already has been done. “Since 1992, 48 (90%) of the 51 state legislatures (including the District of Columbia) ‘have made substantive changes to their laws targeting juveniles who commit violent or serious crimes” (Torbet et al., 1996, p. xv). The main thrust of these new laws is to increase juveniles' eligibility for criminal court processing and punishment in adult prisons (see Hurst, 1996; Potok & Sanchez, 1995). Nearly half (21) of the states expanded criminal court jurisdiction to include violent juvenile offenses, 22 toughened sentencing of violent juvenile offenders, 23 expanded the capacity of secure juvenile correctional facilities, and 10 expanded the number of beds for youthful offenders in prisons (Romero & Brown, 1995). Missouri lowered the age for transfer to criminal court to 12 for any felony (Torbet et al., 1996, p. 6). Shortly before he left Congress, Senator Robert Dole introduced a bill (S. 1854) in the U.S. Senate that would establish a nationwide system to prosecute juveniles 13 years of age and older for committing certain federal crimes. “More juveniles are being charged and tried in criminal court, detained longer, and incarcerated more frequently in the adult correctional system than ever before” (Torbet et al., 1996, p. 6).

    Changes in the administration of juvenile justice in the 1990s can be characterized fairly as a War on Juveniles. Virginia's experiences, which appear to be typical of many states, illustrate the consequences of the new responses to juvenile delinquency. Because of a recent statutory change in the Commonwealth of Virginia that broadens the category of offenses that qualify a juvenile as a “major offender,” as well as more severe sanctions for probation and parole violations, more juveniles are being incarcerated and for longer periods of time for less serious and violent offenses (Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, 1996). In 1995, only 20% of juveniles admitted to a Virginia corrections facility were admitted for a violent offense, and only 8% had a violent offense in their prior criminal record. This JLARC (1996) study shows that previous overcrowding of Virginia's state juvenile corrections facilities has been exacerbated by higher incarceration rates. Worse overcrowding is resulting in higher rates of institutional violence and more use of physical restraints, including “shackling,” “maximum restraint posture,” “four-point restraint,” and use of long periods of confinement in isolation. It is not surprising that recidivism rates are high: 73% are rearrested within 3 years because of ineffective treatment programs. It also appears as if the average sentence juveniles convicted of murder receive is longer than recommended by Virginia Sentencing Guidelines (Criminal Justice Research Center, 1996). Juveniles convicted of murder in Virginia are now incarcerated for nearly 3 years longer than adults convicted of similar murders. Recidivism involving violent crimes among juveniles transferred to the state's criminal justice system has grown by 100% (JLARC, 1996).

    It would be timely to pause and assess objectively our delinquency policies using a historical perspective. The current punitive U.S. juvenile crime policy, particularly the use of adult prisons to punish adolescents, previously has been tried, not even a century ago, and found to be ineffective, morally wrong, and unjust. Our predecessors put in place a more enlightened and effective apparatus, the juvenile court system, designed to steer children and adolescents away from crime and delinquency, correct those who erred by their own volition, and help those who fell victim to society's flaws. Now would be a good time to return to those more enlightened policies, else history will not be kind to us.

    Epilogue

    As we go to press, the Study Group on Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders (chaired by Loeber and Farrington) is completing its examination of offending careers, risk factors, and programs specifically for them. This 26-member group, which includes many renowned juvenile delinquency researchers, made a number of important discoveries of direct relevance to arguments advanced in this book. I cannot resist the temptation to note just two of its valuable findings.

    First, the Study Group's examination of juvenile court data produced findings similar to Elliott's (1994b) observation that the increase in juvenile delinquency in the late 1980s and early 1990s amounts to about an 8%–10% increase in the number of adolescents who commit serious violent offenses, not an increase in the incidence of violent offending. Snyder's2 analysis of court data in the Study Group, using 16 cohorts of referrals to the Phoenix juvenile court, shows that the main change in these cohorts' offending patterns from 1980 to 1995 is an increase of about 4% in the proportion of chronic offenders among all referrals, from 13% to about 17% over the 16 year period. However, on average, their offending careers (court referrals) did not include significantly more serious or violent offenses in the 1990s than in the 1980s; nor did they start offending younger. Thus no evidence of “superpredators” was found.

    The second Study Group discovery concerns effective programs. Recall that Lipsey's 1992 meta-analysis of nearly 400 treatment programs for all types of juvenile offenders showed that experimental programs reduced recidivism on average about 10%, and that the better interventions achieved a 20%–30% reduction in recidivism. A new meta-analysis in the Study Group (Lipsey and Derzon3) of 200 evaluations of treatment programs (that had at least a relatively high proportion of serious offenders) shows that the average experimental program reduces recidivism by about 12%, compared to traditional programs. But the best programs reduce recidivism rates by as much as 40%. Remarkably, programs appear to be as effective with more serious offenders as with less serious offenders. These results bring to mind Lipsey's observation following his first meta-analysis (1992b:16): “We must get on with the business of developing and identifying the treatment models that will be ostensible effective and providing them to the juveniles they will benefit.”

    Notes

    1. Loeber, R., & Farrington, D. P. (in press). Serious and violent juvenile offenders: risk factors and successful interventions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    2. Snyder, H. N. Serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders: An assessment of the extent of and trends in officially-recognized serious criminal behavior in a delinquent population. In R. Loeber & D. P. Farrington (in press). Serious and violent juvenile offenders: risk factors and successful interventions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    3. Lipsey, M. W., & Derzon, J. Effective interventions for serious juvenile offenders: A synthesis of research. In R. Loeber & D. P. Farrington (in press). Serious and violent juvenile offenders: risk factors and successful interventions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Appendix: A Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders1

    General Principles

    The following general principles provide a framework to guide our efforts in the battle to prevent delinquent conduct and reduce juvenile involvement in serious, violent, and chronic delinquency:

    • Strengthen the family in its primary responsibility to instill moral values and provide guidance and support to children. Where there is no functional family unit, a family surrogate should be established and assisted to guide and nurture the child.
    • Support core social institutions—schools, religious institutions, and community organizations—in their roles of developing capable, mature, and responsible youth. A goal of each of these societal institutions should be to ensure that children have the opportunity and support to mature into productive, law-abiding citizens. A nurturing community environment requires that core social institutions be actively involved in the lives of youth. Community organizations include public and private youth-serving agencies; neighborhood groups; and business and commercial organizations providing employment, training, and other meaningful economic opportunities for youth.
    • Promote delinquency prevention as the most cost-effective approach to dealing with juvenile delinquency. Families, schools, religious institutions, and community organizations, including citizen volunteers and the private sector, must be enlisted in the nation's delinquency prevention efforts. These core socializing institutions must be strengthened and assisted in their efforts to ensure that children have the opportunity to become capable and responsible citizens. When children engage in “acting out” behavior, such as status offenses, the family and community, in concert with child welfare agencies, must take primary responsibility for responding with appropriate treatment and support services. Communities must take the lead in designing and building comprehensive prevention approaches that address known risk factors and target other youth at risk of delinquency.
    • Intervene immediately and effectively when delinquent behavior occurs to successfully prevent delinquent offenders from becoming chronic offenders or progressively committing more serious and violent crimes. Initial intervention efforts, under an umbrella of system authorities (police, intake, and probation), should be centered in the family and other core societal institutions. Juvenile justice system authorities should ensure that an appropriate response occurs and act quickly and firmly if the need for formal system adjudication and sanctions has been demonstrated.
    • Identify and control the small group of serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders who have committed felony offenses or have failed to respond to intervention and nonsecure community-based treatment and rehabilitation services offered by the juvenile justice system. Measures to address delinquent offenders who are a threat to community safety may include placements in secure community-based facilities or, when necessary, training schools and other secure juvenile facilities.

    Under the OJJDP's comprehensive strategy, it is the family and community, supported by our core social institutions, that have primary responsibility for meeting the basic socializing needs of our nation's children. Socially harmful conduct, acting-out behavior, and delinquency may be signs of the family being unable to meet its responsibility. It is at these times that the community must support and assist the family in the socialization process, particularly for youth at the greatest risk of delinquency.

    The proposed strategy incorporates two principal components: (a) preventing youth from becoming delinquent by focusing prevention programs on at-risk youth, and (b) improving the juvenile justice system response to delinquent offenders through a system of graduated sanctions and a continuum of treatment alternatives that include immediate intervention, intermediate sanctions, and community-based corrections sanctions, incorporating restitution and community service when appropriate.

    Target Populations

    The initial target population for prevention programs is juveniles at risk of involvement in delinquent activity. Although primary delinquency prevention programs provide services to all youth wishing to participate, maximum impact on future delinquent conduct can be achieved by seeking to identify and involve in prevention programs youth at greatest risk of involvement in delinquent activity. This includes youth who exhibit known risk factors for future delinquency or for drug and alcohol abuse, as well as youth who have had contact with the juvenile justice system as nonoffenders (neglected, abused, and dependent), status offenders (runaways, truants, alcohol offenders, and incorrigibles), or minor delinquent offenders.

    The next target population is youth, both male and female, who have committed delinquent (criminal) acts, including juvenile offenders who evidence a high likelihood of becoming, or who already are, serious, violent, or chronic offenders.

    Program Rationale

    What can communities and the juvenile justice system do to prevent the development of and interrupt the progression of delinquent and criminal careers? Juvenile justice agencies and programs are one part of a larger picture that involves many other local agencies and programs that are responsible for working with at-risk youth and their families. It is important that juvenile delinquency prevention and intervention programs are integrated with local police, social service, child welfare, school, and family preservation programs and that these programs reflect local community determinations of the most pressing problems and program priorities. Establishing community planning teams that include a broad base of participants drawn from local government and the community (e.g., community-based youth development organizations, schools, law enforcement, social service agencies, civic organizations, religious groups, parents, and teens) will help create consensus on priorities and services to be provided as well as build support for a comprehensive program approach that draws on all sectors of the community for participation. Comprehensive approaches to delinquency prevention and intervention will require collaborative efforts between the juvenile justice system and other service provision systems, including mental health, health, child welfare, and education. Developing mechanisms that effectively link these different service providers at the program level will need to be an important component of every community's comprehensive plan.

    Evidence suggests that a risk-reduction and protective-factor-enhancement approach to prevention is effective. Risk factors include the family, the school, the peer group, the community, and characteristics of juveniles themselves. The more risk factors present in a community, the greater the likelihood of youth problems in that community as children are exposed to those risk factors. Prevention strategies will need to be comprehensive, addressing each of the risk factors as they relate to the chronological development of children being served.

    Research and experience in intervention and treatment programming suggest that a highly structured system of graduated sanctions holds significant promise. The goal of graduated sanctions is to increase the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system in responding to juveniles who have committed criminal acts. The system's limited resources have diminished its ability to respond effectively to serious, violent, and chronic juvenile crime. This trend must be reversed by empowering the juvenile justice system to provide accountability and treatment resources to juveniles. This includes gender-specific programs for female offenders, whose rates of delinquency generally have been increasing faster than those of males in recent years, and who now account for 23% of juvenile arrests. It will also require programs for special needs populations such as sex offenders and mentally retarded, emotionally disturbed, and learning disabled delinquents.

    The graduated sanctions approach is designed to provide immediate intervention at the first offense to ensure that the juvenile's misbehavior is addressed by the family and community or through formal adjudication and sanctions by the juvenile justice system, as appropriate. Graduated sanctions include a range of intermediate sanctions and secure corrections options to provide intensive treatment that serves the juvenile's needs, provides accountability, and protects the public. They offer an array of referral and dispositional resources for law enforcement, juvenile courts, and juvenile corrections officials. The graduated sanctions component requires that the juvenile justice system's capacity to identify, process, evaluate, refer, and track delinquent offenders be enhanced.

    The Juvenile Justice System

    The juvenile justice system plays a key role in protecting and guiding juveniles, including responding to juvenile delinquency. Law enforcement plays a key role by conducting investigations, making custody and arrest determinations, or exercising discretionary release authority. Police should be trained in community-based policing techniques and provided with program resources that focus on community youth, such as Police Athletic Leagues.

    The traditional role of the juvenile and family court is to treat and rehabilitate the dependent or wayward minor, using an individualized approach and tailoring its response to the particular needs of the child and family, with goals of (a) responding to the needs of troubled youth and their families, (b) providing due process while recognizing the rights of the victim, (c) rehabilitating the juvenile offender, and (d) protecting both the juvenile and the public. Although juvenile and family courts have been successful in responding to the bulk of youth problems to meet these goals, new ways of organizing and focusing the resources of the juvenile justice system are required to effectively address serious, violent, and chronic juvenile crime. These methods might include the establishment of unified family courts with jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters affecting the family.

    A recent statement by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) succinctly describes the critical role of the court:

    The Courts must protect children and families when private and other public institutions are unable or fail to meet their obligations. The protection of society by correcting children who break the law, the preservation and reformation of families, and the protection of children from abuse and neglect are missions of the Court. When the family falters, when the basic needs of children go unmet, when the behavior of children is destructive and goes unchecked, juvenile and family courts must respond. The Court is society's official means of holding itself accountable for the well-being of its children and family unit. (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1993)

    Earlier, the NCJFCJ developed 38 recommendations regarding serious juvenile offenders and related issues facing the juvenile court system. These issues included confidentiality of the juvenile offender and his or her family, transfer of a juvenile offender to adult court, and effective treatment of the serious juvenile offender (NCJFCJ, 1984).

    Finally, juvenile corrections has the responsibility to provide treatment services that will rehabilitate the juvenile and minimize his or her chances of reoffending. Juvenile courts and corrections will benefit from a system that makes a continuum of services available that respond to each juvenile's needs.

    The juvenile justice system, armed with resources and knowledge that permit matching juveniles with appropriate treatment programs while holding them accountable, can have a positive and lasting impact on the reduction of delinquency. Developing effective case management and management information systems (MIS) will be integral to this effort. The OJJDP will provide leadership in building system capacity at the state and local levels to take maximum advantage of available knowledge and resources.

    Delinquency Prevention

    Most juvenile delinquency efforts have been unsuccessful because of their negative approach—attempting to keep juveniles from misbehaving. Positive approaches that emphasize opportunities for healthy social, physical, and mental development have a much greater likelihood of success. Another weakness of past delinquency prevention efforts is their narrow scope, focusing on only one or two of society's institutions that have responsibility for the social development of children. Most programs have targeted either the school arena or the family. Communities are an often neglected area. Successful delinquency prevention strategies must be positive in their orientation and comprehensive in their scope.

    The prevention component of the OJJDP's comprehensive strategy is based on a risk-focused delinquency prevention approach (Hawkins & Catalano, 1992). This approach states that to prevent a problem from occurring, the factors contributing to the development of that problem must be identified, and then ways must be found (protective factors) to address and ameliorate those factors.

    Research conducted over the past half century has clearly documented five categories of causes and correlates of juvenile delinquency: (a) individual characteristics such as alienation, rebelliousness, and lack of bonding to society; (b) family influences such as parental conflict, child abuse, and family history of problem behavior (substance abuse, criminality, teen pregnancy, and school dropouts); (c) school experiences such as early academic failure and lack of commitment to school; (d) peer group influences such as friends who engage in problem behavior (minor criminality, gangs, and violence); and (e) neighborhood and community factors such as economic deprivation, high rates of substance abuse and crime, and low neighborhood attachment. These categories can also be thought of as risk factors.

    To counter these causes and risk factors, protective factors must be introduced. Protective factors are qualities or conditions that moderate a juvenile's exposure to risk. Research indicates that protective factors fall into three basic categories: (a) individual characteristics such as a resilient temperament and a positive social orientation; (b) bonding with prosocial family members, teachers, and friends; and (c) healthy beliefs and clear standards for behavior. Although individual characteristics are inherent and difficult to change, bonding and clear standards for behavior work together and can be changed. To increase bonding, children must be provided with opportunities to contribute to their families, schools, peer groups, and communities; skills to take advantage of opportunities; and recognition for their efforts to contribute. Simultaneously, parents, teachers, and communities need to set clear standards that endorse prosocial behavior.

    The risk-focused delinquency prevention approach calls on communities to identify and understand what risk factors their children are exposed to and to implement programs that counter these risk factors. Communities must enhance protective factors that promote positive behavior, health, well-being, and personal success. Effective delinquency prevention efforts must be comprehensive, covering the five causes or risk factors described below, and correspond to the social development process.

    Individual Characteristics

    Our children must be taught moral, spiritual, and civic values. The decline in inculcating these values has contributed significantly to increases in delinquent behavior; therefore, opportunities for teaching positive values must be increased.

    Youth Leadership and Service Programs can provide such opportunities and can reinforce and help internalize in children such positive individual traits as discipline, character, self-respect, responsibility, teamwork, healthy lifestyles, and good citizenship. They also can provide opportunities for personal growth, active involvement in education and vocational training, and life skills development.

    A Youth Leadership and Service Program could consist of a variety of components targeted to the needs of grade school, junior high, and high school youth. Elementary and junior high school children could be assisted in achieving healthy social development through instillation in them of basic values. Youth of high school age could be supported in the development of leadership skills and community service in preparation for adulthood. The components of a Youth Leadership and Service Program may include the following types of program activities:

    • Youth Service Corps
    • Adventure Training (leadership, endurance, and team building);
    • mentoring;
    • recreational;
    • summer camp;
    • literacy and learning disability; and
    • law-related education.

    A variety of prevention programs address individual growth and development, including:

    • Head Start;
    • Boys and Girls Clubs;
    • Scouting;
    • 4-H Clubs;
    • recreational activities;
    • leadership and personal development;
    • health and mental health; and
    • career-oriented youth development.
    Family Influences

    The family is the most important influence in the lives of children and the first line of defense against delinquency. Programs that strengthen the family and foster healthy growth and development of children from prenatal care through adolescence should be widely available. These programs should encourage the maintenance of a viable family unit and bonding between parent and child, and they should provide support for families in crisis. Such programs should involve other major spheres of influence such as religious institutions, schools, and community-based organizations. By working together, these organizations will have a pronounced impact on preserving the family and preventing delinquency.

    To have the greatest impact, assistance must reach families before significant problems develop. The concept of earliest point of impact therefore should guide the development and implementation of prevention programs involving the family. Researchers in the area of juvenile delinquency and the family have found that the following negative family involvement factors are predictors of delinquency:

    • inadequate prenatal care;
    • parental rejection;
    • inadequate supervision and inconsistent discipline by parents;
    • family conflict, marital discord, and physical violence; and
    • child abuse.

    The following programs directly address negative family involvement factors and how to establish protective factors:

    • teen abstinence and pregnancy prevention;
    • parent effectiveness and family skills training;
    • parent support groups;
    • home instruction program for preschool youngsters;
    • family crisis intervention services;
    • court appointed special advocates;
    • surrogate families and respite care for families in crisis;
    • permanency planning for foster children;
    • family life education for teens and parents; and
    • runaway and homeless youth services.
    School Experiences

    Outside the family, the school has the greatest influence in the lives of children and adolescents. The school profoundly influences the hopes and dreams of youth.

    Many of America's children bring one or more of the aforementioned risk factors to school with them, and these factors may hinder the development of their academic and social potential. School prevention programs, including traditional delinquency prevention programs not related to the school's educational mission, can assist the family and the community by identifying at-risk youth, monitoring their progress, and intervening with effective programs at critical times during a youth's development.

    School-based prevention programs may include:

    • drug and alcohol prevention and education;
    • bullying prevention;
    • violence prevention;
    • alternative schools;
    • truancy reduction;
    • school discipline and safety improvement;
    • targeted literacy programs in the primary grades;
    • law-related education;
    • after school programs for latchkey children;
    • teen abstinence and pregnancy prevention;
    • values development; and
    • vocational training.

    Providing youth with structured opportunities to develop skills and contribute to the community in nonschool hours is particularly important for at-risk youth who have lower levels of personal and social support. Communities need to develop strategies and programs, such as those recommended by the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, to address this need.

    Peer Group Influences

    Research on the causes and correlates of delinquency confirms that associating with delinquent, drug-using peers is strongly correlated with delinquency and drug use. These relationships are mutually reinforcing. Membership in a gang is strongly related to delinquency and drug use. Those who remain in gangs over long periods of time have high rates of delinquency, particularly during active gang membership.

    Peer leadership groups offer an effective means of encouraging leaders of delinquency-prone groups to establish friendships with more conventional peers. These groups have been established in schools, at all levels, across the country. As noted above, school-based after school programs for latchkey children also provide the same function for children at high risk for negative influences. Crime prevention programs that educate youth on how to prevent juvenile violence and crime and provide opportunities for youth to actually work on solving specific community delinquency problems are another effective way of encouraging peer leadership.

    Promising approaches have been identified for combating juvenile gangs. “Community mobilization” appears to be effective in cities with chronic gang problems and in cities where the gang problem is just beginning. Other promising preventive options include efforts to dissolve associations with delinquent peers and develop alternative behaviors that promote moral development and reject violence as a means of resolving interpersonal disputes. Opportunities to achieve success in conventional, nondeliquent activities are also imperative.

    The following programs reflect these principles:

    • gang prevention and intervention;
    • conflict resolution-peer mediation;
    • peer counseling and tutoring;
    • self-help fellowship for peer groups;
    • individual responsibility training;
    • community volunteer service;
    • competitive athletic team participation; and
    • teens, crime, and the community.
    Neighborhood and Community

    Children do not choose where they live. Children who live in fear of drug dealers, street violence, and gang shootings cannot enjoy childhood. Children are dependent on parents, neighbors, and police to provide a safe and secure environment in which to play, go to school, and work. Community policing can play an important role in creating a safer environment. Community police officers not only help to reduce criminal activity but also become positive role models and establish caring relationships with the youth and families in a community. On-site neighborhood resource teams, composed of community police officers, social workers, health care workers, housing experts, and school personnel, can ensure that a wide range of problems are responded to in a timely and coordinated manner.

    Also required are innovative and committed individuals, groups, and community organizations to work together to improve the quality of life in their communities and, if necessary, to reclaim the communities from gangs and other criminal elements. Such groups include youth development organizations, churches, tenant organizations, and civic groups. The private sector business community can make a major contribution through Private Industry Councils and other partnerships by providing job training, apprenticeships, and other meaningful economic opportunities for youth.

    Neighborhood and community programs include:

    • community policing;
    • safe havens for youth;
    • neighborhood mobilization for community safety;
    • drug-free school zones;
    • after school programs, sponsored by community organizations, in tutoring, recreation, mentoring, and cultural activities;
    • community and business partnerships;
    • foster grandparents;
    • job training and apprenticeships for youth;
    • neighborhood watch; and
    • victim programs.

    The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development (1992), following an extensive study of adolescent development, concluded that community-based youth programs, offered by more than 17,000 organizations nationwide, can provide the critical community support necessary to prevent delinquency. This can be done, the council concluded, through community organizations' contributions to youth development in conjunction with family- and school-focused efforts. Communities must be created that support families, educate adolescents for a global economy, and provide opportunities to develop skills during nonschool hours. The council found that many adolescents are adrift during nonschool hours and can be actively involved in community-based programs that provide opportunities to develop a sense of importance, well-being, belonging, and active community participation. Through such programs, risks can be transformed into opportunities.

    Graduated Sanctions

    An effective juvenile justice system program model for the treatment and rehabilitation of delinquent offenders is one that combines accountability and sanctions with increasingly intensive treatment and rehabilitation services. These graduated sanctions must be wide-ranging to fit the offense and include both intervention and secure corrections components. The intervention component includes the use of immediate intervention and intermediate sanctions, and the secure corrections component includes the use of community confinement and incarceration in training schools, camps, and ranches.

    Each of these graduated sanctions components should consist of sublevels, or gradations, that together with appropriate services constitute an integrated approach. The purpose of this approach is to stop the juvenile's further penetration into the system by inducing law-abiding behavior as early as possible through the combination of appropriate intervention and treatment sanctions. The juvenile justice system must work with law enforcement, courts, and corrections to develop reasonable, fair, and humane sanctions.

    At each level in the continuum, the family must continue to be integrally involved in treatment and rehabilitation efforts. Aftercare must be a formal component of all residential placements, actively involving the family and the community in supporting and reintegrating the juvenile into the community.

    Programs will need to use risk and needs assessments to determine the appropriate placement for the offender. Risk assessments should be based on clearly defined objective criteria that focus on (a) the seriousness of the delinquent act; (b) the potential risk for reoffending, based on the presence of risk factors; and (c) the risk to the public safety. Effective risk assessment at intake, for example, can be used to identify those juveniles who require the use of detention as well as those who can be released to parental custody or diverted to nonsecure community-based programs. Needs assessments will help ensure that (a) different types of problems are taken into account when formulating a case plan, (b) a baseline for monitoring a juvenile's progress is established, (c) periodic reassessments of treatment effectiveness are conducted, and (d) a systemwide database of treatment needs can be used for the planning and evaluation of programs, policies, and procedures. Together, risk and needs assessments will help to allocate scarce resources more efficiently and effectively. A system of graduated sanctions requires a broad continuum of options.

    Intervention

    For intervention efforts to be most effective, they must be swift, certain, and consistent, and they must incorporate increasing sanctions, including the possible loss of freedom. As the severity of sanctions increases, so must the intensity of treatment. At each level, offenders must be aware that, should they continue to violate the law, they will be subject to more severe sanctions and ultimately could be confined in a secure setting, ranging from a secure community-based juvenile facility to a training school, camp, or ranch.

    The juvenile court plays an important role in the provision of treatment and sanctions. Probation traditionally has been viewed as the court's main vehicle for delivery of treatment services and community supervision. Traditional probation services and sanctions, however, have not had the resources to effectively target delinquent offenders, particularly serious, violent, and chronic offenders.

    The Balanced Approach to juvenile probation is a promising approach that specifies a clear and coherent framework. The Balanced Approach consists of three practical objectives: (a) accountability, (b) competency development, and (c) community protection. Accountability refers to the requirement that offenders make amends to the victims and the community for harm caused. Competency development requires that youth who enter the juvenile justice system should exit the system more capable of being productive and responsible citizens. Community protection requires that the juvenile justice system ensure public safety.

    The following graduated sanctions are proposed within the intervention component. Immediate intervention. First-time delinquent offenders (misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies) and nonserious repeat offenders (generally misdemeanor repeat offenses) must be targeted for system intervention based on their probability of becoming more serious or chronic in their delinquent activities. Nonresidential community-based programs, including prevention programs for at-risk youth, may be appropriate for many of these offenders. Such programs are small and open, located in or near the juvenile's home, and maintain community participation in program planning, operation, and evaluation. Community police officers, working as part of neighborhood resource teams, can help monitor the juvenile's progress. Other offenders may require sanctions tailored to their offense(s) and their needs to deter them from committing additional crimes. The following programs apply to these offenders:

    • neighborhood resource teams;
    • diversion;
    • informal probation;
    • school counselors serving as probation officers;
    • home on probation;
    • mediation (victims);
    • community service;
    • restitution;
    • day-treatment programs;
    • alcohol and drug abuse treatment (outpatient); and
    • peer juries.

    Intermediate sanctions. Offenders who are inappropriate for immediate intervention (first-time serious or violent offenders) or who fail to respond successfully to immediate intervention as evidenced by reoffending (such as repeat property offenders or drug-involved juveniles) would begin with or be subject to intermediate sanctions. These sanctions may be nonresidential or residential.

    Many of the serious and violent offenders at this stage may be appropriate for placement in an Intensive Supervision Program as an alternative to secure incarceration. The OJJDP's Intensive Supervision of Probationers Program Model is a highly structured, continuously monitored individualized plan that consists of five phases with decreasing levels of restrictiveness: (a) short-term placement in community confinement, (b) day treatment, (c) outreach and tracking, (d) routine supervision, and (e) discharge and follow-up. Other appropriate programs include:

    • drug testing;
    • weekend detention;
    • alcohol and drug abuse treatment (inpatient);
    • Challenge Outdoor Programs;
    • community-based residential programs;
    • electronic monitoring; and
    • boot camp facilities and programs.
    Secure Corrections

    The criminal behavior of many serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders requires the application of secure sanctions to hold these offenders accountable for their delinquent acts and to provide a structured treatment environment. Large congregate-care juvenile facilities (training schools, camps, and ranches) have not proven to be particularly effective in rehabilitating juvenile offenders. Although some continued use of these types of facilities will remain a necessary alternative for those juveniles who require enhanced security to protect the public, the establishment of small community-based facilities to provide intensive services in a secure environment offers the best hope for successful treatment of those juveniles who require a structured setting. Secure sanctions are most effective in changing future conduct when they are coupled with comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation services.

    Standard parole practices, particularly those that have a primary focus on social control, have not been effective in normalizing the behavior of high-risk juvenile parolees over the long term; consequently, growing interest has developed in intensive aftercare programs that provide high levels of social control and treatment services. The OJJDP's Intensive Community-Based Aftercare for High-Risk Juvenile Parolees Program provides an effective aftercare model.

    The Intensive Aftercare Program incorporates five programmatic principles: (a) preparing youth for progressive responsibility and freedom in the community, (b) facilitating youth-community interaction and involvement, (c) working with both the offender and targeted community support systems (e.g., families, peers, schools, and employers) to facilitate constructive interaction and gradual community adjustment, (d) developing needed resources and community support, and (e) monitoring and ensuring the youth's successful reintegration into the community.

    The following graduated sanctions strategies are proposed within the Secure Corrections component:

    Community confinement. Offenders whose presenting offense is sufficiently serious (such as a violent felony) or who fail to respond to intermediate sanctions as evidenced by continued reoffending may be appropriate for community confinement. Offenders at this level represent the more serious (such as repeat felony drug trafficking or property offenders) and violent offenders among the juvenile justice system correctional population. The concept of community confinement provides secure confinement in small community-based facilities that offer intensive treatment and rehabilitation services. These services include individual and group counseling, educational programs, medical services, and intensive staff supervision. Proximity to the community enables direct and regular family involvement with the treatment process as well as a phased reentry into the community that draws upon community resources and services.

    Incarceration in training schools, camps, and ranches. Juveniles whose confinement in the community would constitute an ongoing threat to community safety or who have failed to respond to community-based corrections may require an extended correctional placement in training schools, camps, ranches, or other secure options that are not community-based. These facilities should offer comprehensive treatment programs for these youth with a focus on education, skills development, and vocational or employment training and experience. These juveniles may include those convicted in the criminal justice system prior to their reaching the age at which they are no longer subject to the original or extended jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system.

    Expected Benefits

    The proposed strategy provides for a comprehensive approach in responding to delinquent conduct and serious, violent, and chronic criminal behavior, consisting of (a) community protection and public safety, (b) accountability, (c) competency development, (d) individualization, and (e) balanced representation of the interests of the community, victim, and juvenile. By taking these factors into account in each program component, a new direction in the administration of juvenile justice is fostered.

    Delinquency Prevention

    This major component of the comprehensive strategy involves implementation of delinquency prevention technology that has been demonstrated to be effective. Prevention strategies within the major areas that influence the behavior of youth (individual development, family, school, peer group, and community) parallel the chronological development of children. Because addressing these five areas has been found to be effective in reducing future delinquency among high-risk youth, it should result in fewer children entering the juvenile justice system in demonstration sites. This would, in turn, permit concentration of system resources on fewer delinquents, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the graduated sanctions component and improving the operation of the juvenile justice system.

    Graduated Sanctions

    This major component of the comprehensive strategy is premised on a firm belief that the juvenile justice system can effectively handle delinquent juvenile behavior through the judicious application of a range of graduated sanctions and a full continuum of treatment and rehabilitation services. Expected benefits of this approach include

    • increased juvenile justice system responsiveness. This program will provide additional referral and dispositional resources for law enforcement, juvenile courts, and juvenile corrections. It will also require these system components to increase their ability to identify, process, evaluate, refer, and track juvenile offenders.
    • increased juvenile accountability. Juvenile offenders will be held accountable for their behavior, decreasing the likelihood of their development into serious, violent, or chronic offenders and tomorrow's adult criminals. The juvenile justice system will be held accountable for controlling chronic and serious delinquency while also protecting society. Communities will be held accountable for providing community-based prevention and treatment resources for juveniles.
    • decreased costs of juvenile corrections. Applying the appropriate graduated sanctions and developing the required community-based resources should reduce significantly the need for high-cost beds in training schools. Savings from the high costs of operating these facilities could be used to provide treatment in community-based programs and facilities.
    • increased responsibility of the juvenile justice system. Many juvenile offenders currently waived or transferred to the criminal justice system could be provided opportunities for intensive services in secure community-based settings or in long-term treatment in juvenile training schools, camps, and ranches.
    • increased program effectiveness. As the statistical information presented herein indicates, credible knowledge exists about the characteristics of chronic, serious, and violent offenders. Some knowledge also exists about what can effectively be done regarding their treatment and rehabilitation. More must be learned, however, about what works best for whom under what circumstances to intervene successfully in the potential criminal careers of serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders. Follow-up research and rigorous evaluation of programs implemented as part of this strategy should produce valuable information.
    Crime Reduction

    The combined effects of delinquency prevention and increased juvenile justice system effectiveness in intervening immediately and effectively in the lives of delinquent offenders should result in measurable decreases in delinquency in sites where the above concepts are demonstrated. In addition, long-term reduction in crime should result from fewer serious, violent, and chronic delinquents becoming adult criminal offenders.

    Note

    1. Which juveniles are determined to be serious, violent, or chronic offenders is an important matter. The consequences of being placed in one of these categories are critical to the allocation of scarce treatment resources. In some jurisdictions, identification of a juvenile as a serious, violent, or chronic offender determines how a juvenile is “handled” in the system, for example, whether a juvenile is subject to established minimum periods of secure confinement or subject to criminal court jurisdiction. Generally, such determinations are made at the state and local levels.

    The OJJDP has developed the following definitions of serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders for purposes of this program. Definitions used in various research and statistics-gathering efforts often vary.

    Juvenile refers to a person under the age established by a state to determine when an individual is no longer subject to original juvenile court jurisdiction for (any) criminal misconduct. Although this age is 18 in a majority of jurisdictions, it ranges from 16 to 19 years of age. Serious juvenile offenders are those adjudicated delinquent for committing any felony offense, including larceny or theft, burglary or breaking and entering, extortion, arson, and drug trafficking or other controlled dangerous substance violations. Violent juvenile offenders are those serious juvenile offenders adjudicated delinquent for one of the following felony offenses: homicide, rape or other felony sex offenses, mayhem, kidnapping, robbery, or aggravated assault. Chronic juvenile offenders are juveniles adjudicated delinquent for committing three or more delinquent offenses. These definitions include juveniles convicted in criminal court for particular offense types.

    An informative discussion of the research and issues involved in formulating a working definition of these and related terms is found in Fagan and Hartstone (1984).

    Author's Note: This chapter originally was published in J. J. Wilson and J. C. Howell, Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (1993).

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    About the Author

    James C. (Buddy) Howell is a graduate of East Texas Baptist College (B.A., sociology). He received his Master's degree in sociology from Stephen F. Austin State University and his doctorate from the University of Colorado, where he specialized in crime and delinquency research. He is former Director of Research and Program Development at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the U.S. Department of Justice. He held various positions in the OJJDP from its establishment in 1975 to 1995. These include Director, National Institute on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Deputy Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He also served as a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice; the National Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the federal Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Dr. Howell is currently an Adjunct Researcher at the National Youth Gang Center in Tallahasse, FL. In addition to this work, he is conducting research on youth gangs and assisting juridictions across the country on research and program development dealing with serious, violent, and chronic offenders.


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