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A model system fosters a culture of responsibility. First, it insists that young people accept responsibility for their actions—and take active measures to repair any harm they may have done to others.

A model system also invites and expects adults to accept responsibility. It builds and broadens partnerships with the families and local communities of the youth it serves.

Finally, a model system accepts responsibility for its own performance, actively tracking and monitoring its record of successes and failures and responding appropriately as a system.

A juvenile justice system that is dedicated to these principles will engage in these responsibility-enforcing practices:

Youth responsibility

  • A flexible and graduated system of sanctions and incentives
  • Meaningful community service programs
  • Victim restitution programs
  • Victim impact/awareness training and other developmentally appropriate accountability program components

Community responsibility

  • Policies and decision-making criteria that favor appropriate diversion at arrest, intake, and adjudication stages
  • A continuum of local alternatives to formal processing, detention, and incarceration
  • Least restrictive/nearest to home alternatives systematically preferred in all decision-making
  • Inclusion of community members and organizations in local planning and development, diversion policy-setting, and creation of community service opportunities
  • Active recruitment of community members to teach, mentor, monitor, and informally resolve disputes among youth

System responsibility

  • Mechanisms for tracking and reporting case-level successes and failures (new offenses, restitution paid, community service performed, etc.) at case termination


Supported by

Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.