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March | April 2015

Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative: Implementation Update
Photo og two young boys

As part of the Office’s Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative, OJJDP has partnered with The Pew Charitable Trusts' Public Safety Performance Project to support the implementation of statewide reforms in Georgia, Hawaii, and Kentucky. A site visit to Hawaii and Kentucky in 2015 by the OJJDP grant awardee, Crime and Justice Institute (CJI), highlighted the progress being made in the area of juvenile justice reform.

These reforms include diversion alternatives, community-based options, and other changes to reduce recidivism, decrease correctional spending, and improve public safety. CJI is providing training and technical assistance to help the states implement the policy changes.

Training and technical assistance was launched in Hawaii with OJJDP-CJI presentations to probation officers on implementation science related to the risk and needs assessment tool in Hawaii’s reformed juvenile justice legislation. Next steps for Hawaii include promoting the research on sanctions and incentives and addressing the overall juvenile justice training needs in the state. The next visit will include trainings of judiciary staff on evidence-based practices with a focus on juvenile justice research and what works best for juveniles.

In Kentucky, CJI met with key juvenile justice stakeholders about their continued implementation of the state’s juvenile justice reform legislation. They presented on the performance measurement component of the new law, the state’s Juvenile Justice Oversight Council, and held a cross-agency meeting to discuss collaboration and upcoming training efforts.

Several key successes have already been achieved in Kentucky, including the creation and startup of the enhanced Court Designated Worker program and the Family, Accountability, Intervention and Response Team process within the Administrative Office of the Courts. Kentucky has also expanded behavioral health community-based services and increased trainings within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Other areas of progress include developing juvenile court rules, drafting and training on agency-specific policy, and piloting new risk and needs assessments within Kentucky's Department of Juvenile Justice.

OJJDP and The Pew Charitable Trusts are assisting Georgia as the state implements reforms passed in 2013. As of June 2014, Georgia reduced the number of youth in confinement by 62 percent, youth held in secure facilities declined by 14 percent, and the number of youth in detention fell from 269 in October 2013 to 157.

OJJDP initiated Smart on Juvenile Justice near the end of fiscal year 2014 to—

The initiative supports juvenile justice reform nationwide based on evidence-based programs and developmentally appropriate and trauma-informed policies. OJJDP's goal is to enhance public safety, hold youth appropriately accountable, reduce reoffending, eliminate disparities, maximize cost savings, and support strategic reinvestment of cost savings while supporting statewide system change.

The Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative emphasizes reducing preadjudicatory detention and out-of-home placements to reduce overall costs while improving outcomes for youth.

The initiative aligns with the goals of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Smart on Crime initiative, the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and the White House initiative My Brother’s Keeper.


Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement of the Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative may be read on the Justice Department's website.