Unique circumstances sometimes underlie juvenile delinquency cases. In order to properly handle those cases and prevent further wrongdoing, targeted approaches can specifically address those underlying circumstances in ways traditional juvenile justice systems cannot.
The circuit court in Winnebago County, Illinois, recently initiated the Youth Recovery Court for youths with mental illnesses or substance abuse issues. Specifically limited to youths charged with nonviolent offenses, the court seeks to treat the mental health or substance abuse issue to prevent further delinquency linked to those health issues. This community based program incorporates a high level of family participation to ensure adherence to the treatment plan.
Livingston County, New York, has adopted a restorative justice approach to handle first-time non-violent delinquent youths through their Youth Court program. Administered by teenage volunteers who dole out community service sanctions, this court seeks to make young offenders aware of how their actions impact their peers, victims, and the community at large. With a quick turnaround (no more than 60 days) and initial success (30 out of 31 juveniles handled by the Youth Court fully completed their community service sanction), the Youth Court hopes to increase youth responsibility while redressing wrongs.
These targeted approaches offer a different course for specific low-level juvenile offenders who may benefit far more from diversion from the juvenile justice system without risk to the public safety.
The post above is reprinted with permission from the blog of Right on Crime, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a research institute in Austin, TX.
Jeanette Moll is a juvenile justice policy analyst in the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining TPPF, she served as a legislative aide in the Wisconsin Legislature, where she dealt with various policy issues, media affairs, and constituent outreach. Moll earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then earned a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, where she served on the board of the Texas Review of Litigation and interned with a federal bankruptcy judge, a Texas appellate court judge, and a central Texas law office.
*Photo by Flickr user srqpix
Updated: February 08 2018