Mandating effective treatment for drug offenders
Many have initiated or participated in cross-system collaborative efforts with stakeholders in a variety of systems, such as the school system and the child welfare system, to develop new alternatives to the court system.
Funding for community-based alternatives does not have to come from new sources of revenue.
One of the areas they have studied is juvenile justice.
A number of organizations have identified “model” programs through a process of reviews of the research and made available catalogues of these programs.
Locking up these youth who have not been found delinquent not only jeopardizes their safety, but doesn’t address what is generally at the root of their problems – child abuse and neglect, poverty, family disorganization, and trauma.
It isolates them from their families and can cause their behavior to deteriorate rather than improve.
Studies have found community-based programs to be more effective at reducing recidivism than secure confinement, particularly those that are evidence-based Community-based alternatives to confinement often include—or consist of—programs intended to reduce youth recidivism.
Researchers and policymakers increasingly emphasize the need to use evidence-based practices in juvenile justice programs so that there is a greater likelihood that the program will be effective on a number of levels – addressing behavioral health problems, reducing recidivism, and improving cost-effectiveness.
Alternatives include supervised release with programs such as home detention, electronic monitoring, intensive supervision, and day and evening reporting centers, and local residential and treatment programs.
Examples include the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Model Programs Guide and Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development.
Because meta-analyses have found many non-“brand-name” practices to be effective, the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) was developed to help jurisdictions bring local practices into conformity with what research has shown to work.
This phenomenon has come to be called the “school-to-prison pipeline,” or the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track.” Minor school disciplinary problems that used to be handled by school administrators are now frequently referred to law enforcement.
See Section 5 below, Diverting Youth Who Commit Status Offenses – Strategies: Legislative, for information on states that have made reforms to their truancy laws to reduce juvenile justice system involvement.
Cultural adaptations take an evidence-based practice and adapt it for language, racial and ethnic group, and/or geographic setting.