A New Hub for Juvenile Justice Research


Juvenile justice professionals take note: a new resource collection makes it easier—and more engaging—than ever to get in-depth journalism stories together with key research, data, guides and toolkits on critical issues in the juvenile justice field.

The Juvenile Justice Resource Hub provides visitors an accessible, user-friendly point of entry to a repository of years of research into juvenile justice issues—with particular focus on the best practices and lessons from the MacArthur Foundation-funded Models for Change initiative which examines systems change approaches to make juvenile justice more fair, effective, rational and developmentally-appropriate. Read and explore the reform trends on the hub.

Since its formation three years ago, JJIE.org has earned a reputation as the go-to source for juvenile justice news. The Hub builds on this, adding “layer upon layer of research into issues pertaining to youth and justice,” said Leonard Witt, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Journalism.

Practitioners, researchers, policymakers and journalists can now navigate seamlessly from the comprehensive journalism produced by JJIE.org to the underlying research and best practices in the Hub, deepening  their understanding of the treatment of youth in juvenile justice and of innovations that make juvenile justice approaches more responsive and effective.

Reform Trends in Juvenile Justice: Explore the Hub

The Juvenile Justice Resource Hub is designed around the six reform trends of juvenile justice, as defined by Models for Change: mental health, disproportionate representation of minorities, indigent defense, evidence-based practices, aftercare and community-based alternatives for youthful offenders. For each of the six areas, JJIE.org is producing a complementary series of investigative journalism. Stay tuned as resources and stories unfold throughout 2013 and through 2014.

The Hub puts “juvenile justice information and resources from Models for Change and other reform efforts into the hands of those who need them,” says Sarah Bryer, director of the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN).  NJJN is curating the Hub in partnership with JJIE.org.


Evidence-Based Practices (August 2014)

What works in terms of keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system? What works to helps system-involved youth from returning once released? In recent years, scientists have determined that there are many effective programs and policies that substantially reduce recidivism, refuting the assertions of earlier social scientists that “nothing works.” These science-backed and promising practices have helped significantly decrease the need for secure confinement of many youth. In this new hub section on Evidence-Based Practices, you’ll find an overview of key issues and reform trends relating to research-backed practices and links to information on each one, as well as the most recent research, cutting-edge reforms, model policies, links to experts, and toolkits to take action. Check it out >>

Juvenile Indigent Defense (November 2013)

Young people in trouble with the law have a right to legal counsel, but they frequently don’t get the timely or adequate representation they need. Many youth waive their constitutional right to counsel and accept plea offers without fully understanding their actions. Too often, even those who do have lawyers are inadequately represented, because of defenders’ high caseloads, inexperience, and lack of training and resources. To learn what good juvenile defense looks like and what can be done to fix the system, check out the JID section >> 

  • Story Series: Speaking for the Children: A Hard Look at the State of Juvenile Defense Across the U.S. 
    In the U.S., young people in trouble with the law have the right to quality legal counsel, so why is the reality playing out unequally across the country? This series of articles from JJIE looks at juvenile public defense – when it works, and why it doesn’t – and includes stories from youth and families navigating the system with and without legal representation. Read>>

Community-Based Alternatives (August 2013)

The United States confines a much higher proportion of its youth than other developed nations. In recent years, state and local policymakers have begun to raise questions about the high cost of confining so many youth, particularly when many of them are housed in dangerous conditions and often have high rates of recidivism. As it happens, cost-effective program options, known as “community-based alternatives,” have already been developed and tested that serve youth safely in the community instead of incarcerating them in jail-like facilities. Check it out >>

  • Story Series: Exploring Community-Based Alternatives 
    The formal juvenile justice system can’t substitute for strong families, schools and communities, and was never meant to. For the vast majority of young people who get into trouble, rigorous community-based alternatives are more effective in rehabilitation than arrest and detentions. This series explores the innovations and evidence emerging as localities take the lead in alternative treatment for youth. Find out what’s happening in places like Newton County, GA, Brooklyn, NY and elsewhere. Read>>

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Disorders (April 2013)

Juvenile justice systems serve a significant number of young people suffering from behavioral health problems—including mental and physical health conditions and substance abuse—and are often inadequately equipped to deal with these youth. The Hub brings together in one place a comprehensive set of research and information on issues relating to mental health and the juvenile justice system, including evidence from cutting-edge reforms, model policies and expert perspectives. Check it out >>

  • Story Series: Mental Health and the Juvenile Justice System: Progress, Problems & Paradoxes
    mentalhealth square

    Illustration by Katy McCarthy

    Illustration by Katy McCarthy

    Mental health presents one of the most vexing challenges facing our nation’s juvenile courts and corrections systems: how to treat, supervise, punish or just plain cope with troubled teens whose delinquent behaviors are connected to or caused by emotional disturbances and mental health problems. This series of feature articles explores these challenges, issues and progressive reforms in states. Read >>

What You Can Do

Please help spread the word about this comprehensive Hub to colleagues and networks interested in juvenile justice. Find sample social media and outreach language here.

Please also share resources and tools that you’d like to be considered for inclusion in the Hub.

Note: This blog is available for reprinting on your blog or website. Instructions for reprinting:

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This blog was originally published by JJIE.org and SparkAction.org and is reprinted here with permission.


About our partners: 

NJJN logoThe National Juvenile Justice Network: Through education, community-building and leadership development, The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) enhances the capacity of juvenile justice coalitions and organizations to press for policies and practices that are equitable and appropriate for youth and families involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the justice system.  Read more >>

Mac-logoThe John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and institutions committed to building a more peaceful world. The Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservationand security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.  Read more >>
MFC logModels for Change, a MacArthur Foundation initiative, supports a network of government and court officials, legal advocates, educators, community leaders, and families working together to ensure that kids who make mistakes are held accountable and treated fairly throughout the juvenile justice system.  Read more >>