RESEARCH GOAL AND OBJECTIVES. State governments have enacted changes in law and policy that have profoundly altered the juvenile justice landscape in the United States. Practitioners have been asked to implement new laws and policies for transferring youth to adult courts, increase information-sharing between juvenile and adult justice systems, reducing sentencing discretion, give media greater access to juvenile records and court hearings, and sanction violent, drug, and gun offenders. Yet, we have little empirical knowledge about whether practitioners view such policies as needed, feasible to implement, or effective, and whether the policies address the most critical issues confronting practitioners and juvenile justice.
The Urban Institute proposes to fill these critical research gaps. By surveying a large number of juvenile justice professionals in 300 U.S. counties, this project will provide policymakers and practitioners with new empirical information about how to improve the operations and effectiveness of juvenile justice. The study's primary objectives for achieving this goal are: ' To describe the logic of recent and emerging juvenile justice policy changes; ' To examine whether court practitioners favorably view these policy changes, including whether the changes and options are needed, feasible to implement, and effective; and ' To identify the critical issues and needs confronting juvenile justice nationally and the extent to which recent and proposed policy changes address these issues and needs.
PROPOSED RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY. This 2-year project involves an analysis of state-level policy changes and a national survey of juvenile court judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and court administrators. The project will identify the critical legal and programmatic components of state policies and how they contribute to juvenile justice goals. Descriptive and multivariate statistical analyses will be used to examine the survey data.
The primary benefit of the project will be the production of new, unique, and timely information about whether front-line juvenile justice practitioners view recent and proposed policies as needed and effective, and the identification of practitioner recommendations for further changes in juvenile justice policy.