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

The site layers the most relevant national and state level statistics with information on state laws and practice and charts juvenile justice system change. In a landscape that is highly decentralized and ever-shifting, Juvenile Justice GPS provides an invaluable resource for those wanting to improve the juvenile justice system. We hope that the information will be used as a platform for inspiring change and finding solutions that have been applied in other places.

Four strategic overlays

The content of the website is assembled from one of four sources:

  1. Legal research based upon state policies as they are contained in statute, court rule and case law
  2. Practice scans based on interviews and surveys of juvenile justice stakeholders
  3. National scans based on web searches for descriptive data published by state agencies that help illuminate Juvenile Justice GPS reform topics
  4. Strategic overlays of data that are standardized at the national level in ongoing data collections

Charting change in the national landscape: an evolving project

Over 45 juvenile justice reform topics are organized into seven main menu areas addressing boundaries, fairness, practices and integration:

Jurisdictional boundaries - Has juvenile jurisdiction shrunk or expanded? States must address boundaries of childhood/adolescence and adulthood in the context of addressing criminal behavior.

Juvenile defense - State legislatures have set the terms for how the right to counsel is extended to juveniles regardless of a family's ability to obtain counsel and the conditions under which their right to be represented by an attorney can be waived.

Racial/ethnic fairness - How fair is the juvenile justice system? The states must support federal requirements to monitor the juvenile justice system on fairness issues and develop well informed responses when problems are identified.

Juvenile court - How do states address the law violating conduct of youth? Every state has a system of courts with juvenile jurisdiction designed to address the law violating behavior of youth.

Juvenile justice services - How are the states organized to advance more active and results-oriented juvenile justice solutions? There is not one juvenile justice system but 51 different systems with great variation in how delinquency services are provided and how evidence-based practice is advanced.

Status offense issues - How do states address behavior of youth that is illegal only by virtue of their status as a minor? Youth who commit status offenses should not be treated as though they have committed criminal offenses.

Systems integration - How do juvenile justice systems and child welfare collaborate and integrate resources in the states? Youth who are involved in more than one system require special attention and coordination.

About Models for Change

The JJGPS is one of several communications and technical assistance strategies intended to continue the reforms of the Models for Change Initiative.

Models for Change is an ambitious multi-state juvenile justice system reform initiative, launched in 2004 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation with the goal of guiding and accelerating the nation’s progress toward more rational, fair, effective, and developmentally appropriate responses to young people in conflict with the law.

During nearly a decade of supporting policy and practice reform activities in 16 states and more than 35 local jurisdictions, Models for Change has assembled a powerful network of committed reform partners, generated a large volume of practical learning and insights, and achieved an array of successes, from improvements in local practice to major reforms in state policy.

As of the close of 2013, direct funding for reform activities in the original Models for Change jurisdictions has mostly ended. Grants have been made to secure and sustain the practice and policy gains achieved, and to ensure that the work has been appropriately documented and studied. Now, attention is turning to a wider effort to use what has been learned and achieved to expand and spread juvenile justice reform to new jurisdictions and audiences.

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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