Out-of-Home Placements Falling Among Younger Juveniles

by Jeffrey A. Butts September 5, 2014 The number of young people referred to court for delinquency offenses plummeted after the 1990s. According to juvenile court data maintained by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and disseminated by the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), the number of delinquency cases nationwide fell 34 percent between 1996 and 2011 (the most recent year available) — from 1.9 million to 1.2 million cases disposed (or completed) per year. The number of formally handled delinquency cases (i.e. those charged by prosecutors) dropped 36 percent during the same period, and the…

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Delays in Youth Justice

U.S. Department of Justice (2014). Delays in Youth Justice. Justice Research Bulletin. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice. This 2014 bulletin from the U.S. Department of Justice describes research conducted by Jeffrey Butts and his colleagues when he was on the staff of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The study draws on data from the National Juvenile Court Data Archive and from case studies of three juvenile courts in the Midwestern U.S. that successfully managed delays in processing youth through the juvenile justice system. The three sites employed…

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Line Drawing

The differential response to childhood criminality is an established legal principle. Setting the operational legal boundaries between children, youth, and adults is complicated and contentious. It has been so for centuries. It is easy to agree that a specialized juvenile court is the proper forum for handling cases involving law violations by young people, but where exactly should states draw the line between juvenile and adult status?

Orlando Sentinel

Jeffrey Butts, Guest Columnist April 20, 2012 –  The state of Florida transfers far more juvenile offenders to the criminal (adult) court system than any other state in the nation. In this sense at least, Florida can rightly claim to be No. 1. Florida’s population is roughly half that of California’s, but it transfers youths to adult criminal court at a rate that is eight times that of California. According to FBI statistics, the rate of violent youth crime in Florida dropped 57 percent between 1995 and 2010. Juvenile arrests for murder fell 69 percent. The Orange County State Attorney’s office recently connected…

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Less Serious Offenses Account for 90 Percent of the Growth in Juvenile Placements

Butts, Jeffrey A. (2012). Less Serious Offenses Account for 90 Percent of the Growth in Juvenile Placements. Research and Evaluation Data Bits [2012-08]. New York, NY: Research and Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Juvenile court cases involving charges of obstruction of justice, simple assault, drug law violations, vandalism, and disorderly conduct combined accounted for 48,200 new placement cases in 2008, or more than 90 percent of all growth in out-of-home placements between 1985 and 2008.

WHYY Philadelphia

Youth Courts and the Value of a Jury of Their Peers October 27, 2011 — Research shows that young people who participate in youth court or teen court programs may have lower rates of recidivism. Adults involved in the programs attribute much of their success to the influence of positive peer pressure and the value of giving young people a voice in the process. Joining Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coaneus to tell the story of youth courts are JEFFREY BUTTS of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has evaluated teen court programs across the country; and attorney GREGG VOLZ,…

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New York Times – Opinionator

Where Teens Find the Jury Isn’t Rigged By Tina Rosenberg – October 18, 2011.    …There is evidence, however, that youth courts do more than simply divert teens from juvenile justice: they actively create pro-social behavior. The Urban Institute study found a clue: the courts that give the most autonomy to the teens themselves work best. It helps if defendants see their peers as speaking for themselves rather than conveying a message from adults. Also, the more courts are run by teens, the more authority and respect they enjoy. In the roughest neighborhoods, respect goes to those who are most feared.…

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Varieties of Juvenile Court…

Butts, Jeffrey A., John K. Roman, and Jennifer Lynn-Whaley (2011). Varieties of Juvenile Court: Nonspecialized Courts, Teen Courts, Drug Courts, and Mental Health Courts, in The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice, Barry C. Feld and Donna M. Bishop (Editors). New York: Oxford University Press. This chapter addresses the growing use of specialized, problem-solving courts for delinquent juveniles. After introducing the specialized nature of the juvenile court itself, we describe three of the most popular forms of specialized courts for youths (teen courts, juvenile drug court, and juvenile/family mental health courts), and we examine several key policy and…

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Teen Courts — Do They Work and Why?

Jeffrey A. Butts and Jennifer Ortiz (2011). Teen courts — Do they work and why? New York State Bar Association Journal, 83(1): 18-21. Despite their popularity, there are many unanswered questions about the effectiveness of teen courts. The overall impression one gets from the evaluation literature is positive, but researchers have yet to identify exactly why teen courts work. Most important, studies have not yet investigated whether some teen court models are better than others. There is sufficient research evidence to believe that teen courts have meaningful benefits for youth participants, their families and communities, yet many questions remain. One particularly vital…

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