JRSA Forum, December 2012, Volume 30, Number 4



SAC Directors Elect JRSA's Executive Committee for 2012-2013

Statistical Analysis Centers Win Awards for Outstanding Publications

Missouri SAC Wins 2012 SAC Web Site Award


Leveraging National Standards to Accelerate Recidivism Studies: Nlets, BJS, and the States

New Chief of FBI Crime Statistics Unit Named

SBE and NIJ Formalize Research Collaboration

NRC Report Advocates Using Research to Shape Juvenile Justice Reform


JRSA's IBRRC Posts Reports from Idaho, New Mexico, and Vermont SACs

JRSA Concludes Evaluation of Utah Mentoring Program

ASC Panel Highlights Illinois State Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships

New Online Resources Available from NJJEC


New SAC Director Named in Alaska

News from Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New York, Oregon

The JRSA Forum is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. JRSA is a national nonprofit organization. For membership or other information, call (202) 842-9330, e-mail cjinfo@jrsa.org, or visit our Web site: http://www.jrsa.org.

Karen F. Maline, Editor
Nancy Michel, Managing Editor


Phillip Stevenson, President
Stephen Haas, Vice President
Carmen Dorsey, Secretary/ Treasurer
Lisa Broidy, Delegate
Janeena J. Wing, Delegate
David Olson, Appointed Delegate
Jackie Vandercook, Past President

Joan C. Weiss, Executive Director

Ali Burnett, Office Manager
Sandra Dayton, Director of Finance and Administration
Shawn Flower, Research Associate
Karen F. Maline, Director of Member Services
Nancy Michel, Director of Publications
Stan Orchowsky, Research Director
Marc Osman, Web Site Manager
Jason Trask, Program Associate
Lisa Walbolt Wagner, Research Associate
Carrie Williamson, Research Associate

JRSA Website - Forum Webpage - Forum PDF - PRINT THIS ARTICLE  

NRC Report Advocates Using Research to Shape Juvenile Justice Reform

Carrie Williamson, Ph.D., JRSA Research Associate

A report released by the National Research Council argues for significant changes to the juvenile justice system based on the growing body of research on adolescent development. The report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, was commissioned by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as part of its efforts to ensure it is supporting effective practice. It was authored by a diverse committee of academics and practitioners who are experts in juvenile justice and adolescent development.

The report focuses on what is known about the transition to adulthood and the most appropriate ways to intervene with youth. Research evidence demonstrates that some of the key limitations of adolescents include lower levels of self-control, reduced understanding of the consequences of their actions, and increased likelihood of being influenced by their peers, but most youth naturally age out of these characteristics. Evidence shows that youth are positively influenced by the positive presence of a parent or guardian, a prosocial peer group, and activities that promote positive decisionmaking. Confinement can interfere with these relationships and activities, and reduce their positive impact on youth development.

As such, the report recommends community service, restitution, and other nonconfinement sanctions as more appropriate responses to juvenile delinquency. Reducing the negative effects of justice-system involvement for youth as they transition to adulthood reduces the likelihood that they will commit future crimes or be further involved with the justice system.

Negative interactions with the justice system can lead to disrespect for the law and continued offending, and research shows that juveniles are more likely to accept responsibility for their actions if they perceive responses to be fair. For this to occur, youth should be aware of and participate in the adjudication process, and efforts should be made by juvenile justice practitioners to minimize biases based on race and poverty. The report advocates for increased efforts to reduce racial disparities, noting that research continually shows disproportionate minority representation in child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The report's recommendations also include strengthening research on adolescent development, as well as increasing OJJDP's support for training, technical assistance, and data systems and analysis.