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Estimating the causal relationships among juvenile justice system improvements, youth crime, and juvenile confinement

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $124,954)

OJJDP’s Field Initiated Research and Evaluation Program supports innovative and methodologically sound research and evaluation efforts that inform policy and practice consistent with OJJDP’s mission to advance effective delinquency prevention and juvenile justice system interventions.

Juvenile crime rates plummeted across the United States after the 1990s. The number of youth held in detention and long-term placement facilities also plunged. Many observers were quick to identify the cause. According to the new conventional wisdom, crime rates and confinement fell as states implemented policy improvements. States experimented with new intervention programs, with alternatives to detention and placement, by raising the upper and lower age bounds for juvenile court jurisdiction, and adjusting the relative influence and responsibility of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and administrators. The sheer variety of policy changes presents an opportunity to learn about their effects on the quality of justice and public safety. As yet, however, there have been no attempts to analyze state variations in juvenile justice system changes. Researchers tend to evaluate improvements one at a time or in one jurisdiction at a time without considering the full array of changes.

The John Jay College project will conduct a comprehensive analysis of state-level improvements. Researchers will assemble a database of indicators that are measured reliably at the state level. Multivariate techniques will be used to detect associations between various changes, rates of youth crime, and juvenile confinement. This is a national study of statistical relationships among an array of state-level indicators. Researchers will: (1) assemble a set of state-level indicators of youth justice changes and the severity of youth crime, including rates of arrest and out-of-home placement; (2) supplement existing state-level measures with a survey of key state officials (n=200); (3) analyze bivariate and multivariate relationships between all system improvement indicators and the severity of youth crime; and (4) compile and disseminate the project findings in a series of deliverables, including a comprehensive report, a presentation for use at professional conferences, and a summary article suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed, academic journal.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements- 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).


Date Created: September 29, 2017