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Northwestern Juvenile Project: An Overview

NCJ Number
Date Published
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Publication Series
Publication Type
This OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin presents an overview of the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a longitudinal study of drug, alcohol, and psychiatric disorders in a diverse sample of juvenile detainees.
Highlights from the overview of the Northwestern Juvenile Project (NJP) include the following: the NJP is a longitudinal study that investigates the mental health needs and long-term outcomes of youth detained in the juvenile justice system; the NJP investigated what happened to youth after they were arrested and detained; the mental health needs of youth detain in the juvenile justice system are greater than those of youth in the general population; and the mental health needs of youth in detention are largely untreated, with only 15 percent of detained youth with major psychiatric disorders and functional impairment receiving any type of treatment before being released. The NJP is a longitudinal study that examined drug, alcohol, and psychiatric disorders among a diverse sample of juvenile detainees. Data for the study were obtained from 1,829 youth who were arrested and detained in Cook County, IL, between 1995 and 1998. The youth, between the ages of 10 and 18, were interviewed at intake and then through 13 waves of follow-up interviews spanning 16 years. The participants were measured on a number of key areas including socio-demographic characteristics, psychiatric disorders, substance use, criminal activity, incarceration history, health and impairment, life events, service utilization, attitudes and beliefs, and interpersonal and community characteristics. The findings from the study indicate that youth in detention have a greater prevalence of psychiatric disorders, higher rates of childhood maltreatment, and higher rates of risk-taking behaviors, yet they do not receive the treatment they need while in detention. Implications for policy and practice are discussed. Tables, figure, and references
Date Created: October 2, 2019