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A model system protects the community as well as protects youth from themselves and others. In the short term, it continuously assesses the risks that youth under its supervision pose to the public and to themselves, and takes steps to manage those risks effectively. But in the long term, it can only protect by doing the rest of its job well—identifying and responding to youth needs, building on youth potential, and fostering accountability. When youth are provided with the services they need, everyone benefits.

A juvenile justice system that takes its safety responsibilities seriously will employ certain characteristic practices in community and institutional settings:

Community safety

  • Assessment and management of risks to determine appropriate level of supervision and structure
  • Flexible continuum of community supervision options (intensive supervision, electronic monitoring, day treatment, after-school/evening reporting, curfew, etc.) designed to structure young people’s time and sanction misbehavior

Institutional safety

  • Suicide screening at facility intake
  • Gated screening protocols
  • Policies and procedures that maximize the health, safety, and well-being of youth in confinement
  • Guaranteed community and family access to youth in confinement
  • Safety-related staff training


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