Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

States Mull Ohio-Style Juvenile Justice Reform

by Maggie Lee, Nov 26, 2012

Georgia has room to make its juvenile justice system more regular, cheaper and better, according to preliminary suggestions from a blue-ribbon panel charged with drafting an overhaul. States including Texas and Ohio have gone down the same path, which, say experts, is not completely smooth.

But Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, co-authored a 2011 report comparing different juvenile justice reform strategies and said even nearly two decades’ worth of data is not enough to draw from in some cases.

“My criticism of RECLAIM Ohio and a lot of the others [modeled after it] like REDEPLOY Illinois is we don’t really know if they will work because most of them were implemented during a point in which crime was on the rise,” in the mid 1990s, said Butts. That nationwide rise was followed by a nationwide fall. “A lot of the retrospective review of their effectiveness has been done during the crime decline,” he said.

“We’ve all been riding our sleds down the same hill, congratulating ourselves on how fast we’re going, but we don’t really know what’s going to happen when we hit bottom,” he said.

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