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Innovation Brief: Partnering with Schools to Reduce Juvenile Justice Referrals

Published Nov 30, 2012, Jason Szanyi, Center for Children’s Law and Policy

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In Peoria, Illinois, a large number of African-American youth were entering detention for aggravated battery in one public high school. After learning more about the problem, local juvenile justice and school officials, with support from the Models for Change initiative, launched a pilot project to address fights and other incidents on campus using principles of Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ). Once implemented, the low-cost interventions resulted in a 35 percent reduction in school-based referrals to detention for all youth, and a 43 percent reduction for African-American youth. This pilot project served as a springboard for broader implementation of BARJ programming as an alternative to formal processing in schools and in the community.

This brief is one in a series describing new knowledge and innovations emerging from Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. Models for Change is accelerating movement toward a more effective, fair, and developmentally sound juvenile justice system by creating replicable models that protect community safety, use resources wisely, and improve outcomes for youths. The briefs are intended to inform professionals in juvenile justice and related fields, and to contribute to a new national wave of juvenile justice reform.