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Juvenile Justice Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis: Responses, and Opportunities for Reform

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $597,283)

This proposed collaboration between the Justice Information Resource Network (JIRN; formerly the Justice Research and Statistics Association or JRSA) and the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice and Youth Services (JJYS) aims to undertake a post-policy implementation review (PPIR) to advance the understanding of juvenile justice responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis and the impact of these responses on juvenile and public safety outcomes. The literature on COVID-19 policy impacts on juvenile delinquency is in its infancy, partly because of a lack of ‘real-time’ data, and has thus far been based more in theory than empirical evidence. Furthermore, no single research study to date has examined jurisdictional variations in juvenile justice responses to the pandemic and their impact on youths’ trajectories. This insight can inform local crisis-response management, recovery, and future planning. Additionally, there is a dearth of research that has examined resiliency among youth confronted by global crises. However, identifying key, culturally relevant protective factors and mechanisms that can buffer risk and foster positive outcomes among diverse justice-involved youth can inform the development of targeted supports and interventions. This project proposes to start to address the research gaps. We will work with juvenile justice leaders, facility directors, and practitioners in five facilities in Utah that each implemented a different policy response, or combination of responses, to the COVID-19 emergency circumstances. We will work with JJYS to access these facilities to gather information via document reviews and interviews. This information will be used to produce a centralized record of various operational guidelines, policies, procedures, and practices deployed by jurisdictions in response to the COVID-19 crisis in juvenile correctional facilities. The interviews will be conducted with three key stakeholder groups: regional, district, or facility managers; essential frontline facility workers; and a sample of confined youth from each facility. We will also use facility administrative and supplemental data to analyze youth outcomes related to the policy/practice changes revealed by the information gathered. Key deliverables that will be useful to scholarly audiences and to facilities in many states that have worked to respond to unprecedented pandemic circumstances include: the centralized record of policy approaches; several presentations to various stakeholders, at least one of which will be recorded and posted on the project webpage along with helpful information; journal articles on the theoretical and practical research implications, and several written resources for use by the juvenile justice community for emergency preparedness.

Date Created: November 10, 2021