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Policy Brief: Assuring the Future of Developmental Reform in Juvenile Justice

Published Apr 24, 2017, Thomas Grisso, PhD

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The mid-1990s saw the beginning of resistance to the punitive reform in juvenile justice that had gripped the nation for about ten years. A new perspective on juvenile justice arose, acknowledging that adolescents needed a different response to their offending than for adults. The reform proposed that a developmental approach, consistent with adolescents’ relative immaturity, would offer better prospects for youth and public safety. During the ensuing twenty years, this developmental reform took hold nationwide and began changing the face of juvenile justice.

Lessons of history tell us that policy reforms require maintenance. They may be robust initially but meet changing times that challenge their continuance. Sometimes they have inherent vulnerabilities. What are the future challenges to the recent developmental reform in juvenile justice? How can it best be sustained?

The MacArthur Foundation, during the final year of its Models for Change initiative, supported a project to address these questions. It sought consensus among an expert panel about challenges facing the future of the developmental reform in juvenile justice and what might be needed to sustain it. This brief is based on the panel’s consensus.

Categories: Initiative materials, Innovation/knowledge briefs

Tags: Fourth Wave

Uploaded May 8, 2017


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

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