The third Models for Change state, Louisiana made significant strides in improving its juvenile justice system since the 1990s, and political leadership has shown interest in building on that progress. Louisiana is restructuring its system, and has already managed a significant shift in emphasis from a primarily correctional orientation to one centered on the treatment and rehabilitation of youth. It has dramatically reduced its traditional reliance on secure incarceration of juveniles in state-run facilities. And it has emerged from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with a new sense of urgency and a willingness to innovate that has created the potential for significant and lasting reform.
Models for Change-supported reform efforts in Louisiana have focused on expanding alternatives to formal processing and incarceration, increasing access to evidence-based services, and reducing disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system.
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Expansion the use of evidence-based practices
Departing from its history of heavy reliance on residential and institutional care for youth involved with the juvenile justice system, Louisiana reduced the number of youth placed in correctional facilities from over 2,000 a decade ago to below 500. Models for Change efforts worked to expand the availability of evidence-based community services. Louisiana, through a combination of local, state, university, and national partnerships, adopted a model that has doubled the overall proportion of juvenile justice involved youth having access to evidence-based services while the state witnessed a simultaneous 46% drop in juvenile arrests between 2006 and 2010. Read more.
Adoption of best practice detention standards
Statewide standards for juvenile detention facilities were produced through a collaborative effort utilizing and accelerating local reforms from Models for Change sites in Louisiana. These standards have improved the expected level of safety, quality of care, and accountability within juvenile detention centers. They have also been lauded by national experts for their quality. Read more.
The development of a “data group” that guides reform planning
An innovative “data group” led by the University of New Orleans ensured that the work was structured and documented in such a way that results can be tracked and assessed. Prior to 2006, the use of data to guide juvenile justice decision-making was quite limited across the state. Read more.
Adoption of risk and needs assessment tools
The Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) will guide and inform decision-making in an objective manner that accounts for young people’s actual levels of risks and individual needs.
Louisiana Models for Change work was coordinated by the LSU Health Sciences Center - School of Public Health. To learn more about Models for Change work in Louisiana, or how to support juvenile justice reform work in the state, contact Patricia Arteaga at: email@example.com.