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2014 Issue Brief: Smarter Use of Placement Can Improve Outcomes for Youth and Communities

Published Dec 8, 2014, Models for Change Resource Center Partnership

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Because institutional placement is likely to remain in use, especially for serious or chronic offenders, juvenile justice systems need to understand its effects and how to use it to improve outcomes and reduce harm for young offenders and their communities. Three core changes could significantly improve the use of placement:

  •  To reduce harm, use placement only for cases where public safety is the main concern. 
  • To realize the benefits of institutional care, use effective, evidence-based programming and continually monitor and improve it. 
  • For best outcomes, improve the general environment of residential settings in specific ways. Policymakers and practitioners need to understand how institutional placement can impede positive adolescent development.

For most youth, the goals of reducing recidivism and promoting positive development are better met outside of placement, by evidence-based programs that combine close community supervision with focused programming, limit exposure to antisocial peers, involve parents, and promote positive community connections.


Supported by

Models for Change was a juvenile justice systems reform initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.