Basic services, 2017

  • Overall

    Mostly state operated

  • Detention

    Locally operated

  • Probation

    Mostly state operated

  • Reentry

    Mostly state operated

In Virginia, secure juvenile detention and delinquency services are organized at both the state and local level. Administration of probation is split between the judicial and executive branches and the state and local level in Virginia. 

Secure detention facilities are administered by local Court Service Units (CSUs) that are operated by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) a state executive agency. DJJ administers commitment to public state facilities.

Decisions about probation are made by the local juvenile court judge and probation services are administered by the CSUs which are operated by DJJ.

Reentry services, called parole in Virginia, are also administered by the local CSUs. 

Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) administers commitment to state juvenile correctional facilities. Reentry services, called parole in Virginia, are administered by local Court Service Units (CSUs).

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is allowed in Virginia's juvenile correctional facilities. Punitive confinement is allowed for up to 5 consecutive days. The superintendent must be notified if confinement exceeds 24 hours.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Release decisions for youth receiving an indeterminate commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) will be made by DJJ. The decision to release a juvenile given a determinate commitment will be made by the sentencing judge. A juvenile may be released directly to the community or under parole supervision. DJJ does use a risk assessment tool to inform the release decision.

Risk assessment, 2020

Organization 2013 2017 2020
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

In Virginia, decisions about probation are made by the local juvenile court judge. While probation services are administered by Court Service Units (CSUs) which are operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). DJJ administrative policy requires the use of a risk/needs assessment in all juvenile probation. Virginia uses the Youth Assessment & Screening Instrument (YASI) statewide and provides training on the YASI for probation officers.

Information from the YASI is used to develop/inform pre-disposition investigation reports and/or planning, develop probation disposition recommendations to the juvenile court, assign probation supervision level, and develop probation case plans.

The state is able to aggregate case level data and uses it to support local reliability and validity testing of the YASI, assist with probation administration and organizational planning, and for ongoing policy research.

Sex offender registration, 2015


Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used
Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI)

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening tool used
Screening required but tools vary

Virginia encourages mental health screening in detention and requires screening in state institutions. Detention centers are operated by localities, and while the state does not mandate the use of a specific instrument, most centers use the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, 2nd Edition (MAYSI-2).  In the past, the state has provided assistance to detention centers to choose and implement a screening tool.

The state supports mental health screening in commitment facilities through agency regulations. The Department of Juvenile Justice's Behavioral Services Unit regularly reviews assessment instruments and screening practices.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

Virginia supports the application of evidence-based program and practices through common agency practices. While there is currently no statute to support evidence-based practices in juvenile justice, the Department of Juvenile Justice is informed by the legislative branch's Commission on Youth's Collection of Evidence-based Practices for Children and Adolescents with Mental Health Treatment Needs, published on the Commission's website. The state is currently working with several organizations to assess, plan, and implement evidence-based programming in community and residential settings.

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.

36 months with interval and adult systems reporting


Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (VDJJ) reports recidivism rates separately for youth during and after probation or parole supervision, for those released from direct care and youth diverted. For youth under supervision, recidivism is defined as a re-arrest or reconviction within three years. For youth released from direct care, recidivism is defined as a re-arrest, reconviction, or re-incarceration within 36 months. Diverted youth are considered to be recidivists if they are adjudicated or convicted after a successful diversion. Rates are reported at six month intervals with a maximum follow up period of 36 months.

Data sources

FY2015 Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice DATA RESOURCE GUIDE
Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice

Progressive recidivism data

The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice publishes an annual Data Resource Guide which includes a chapter on recidivism. The report includes measures of recidivism for numerous populations including probation placements, probation releases, direct-care releases, parole placements, and parole releases. Recidivism is measured by multiple marker events including rearrest, reconviction, and reincarceration. Virginia is one of the few states that report recidivism measures for youth while under probation/parole supervision in addition to after supervision is complete.

Probation placements and probation releases in FY2010–2014, tracked through FY 2015*

  Probation placements Probation releases
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Rearrest 37.7% 35.7% 37.2% 34.1% 34.2% 34.4% 33.3% 34.6% 33.2% 32.0%
Reconviction 27.0% 26.2% 26.4% 23.7% N/A 26.8% 26.8% 27.6% 26.3% N/A
Total 5,513 5,612 5,355 4,974 4,757 5,426 5,668 5,468 5,237 4,990

*Reincarceration rates for probation placements and probation releases are not applicable because, by definition, a juvenile must be committed before being reincarcerated.


Report excerpt, 2015 Data Resource Guide (p. 56).

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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