Re-entry: Glossary

Adjudicatory Hearing (or Adjudication)
The trial on the charges in a delinquency case is called an adjudicatory hearing or adjudication. The juvenile court judge hears the evidence and makes a determination as to whether or not a youth has committed a delinquent act. This hearing is similar to a trial in an adult criminal case, though in most states the youth cannot request a jury. At the adjudicatory hearing, the prosecutor must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.  The youth has a right to notice of the charges, a right to counsel, a right to confront witnesses, and a right to avoid self-incrimination.

Aftercare refers to the post-release services, supervision, and supports that help youth reintegrate safely and successfully. Pennsylvania’s Joint Policy Statement on Aftercare defines it as follows:

Aftercare is the combination of services, planning, support and supervision that begins at disposition, continues while a youth is in placement, anticipates the youth’s release from placement, continues until the youth is discharged from juvenile court supervision, and extends thereafter through connections to other opportunities, supports or services, such as those provided to dependent children.[1]

An order that places a youth in the legal custody of a juvenile justice agency following an adjudication of delinquency. Committed youth are generally confined in a juvenile facility.

Criminogenic Need/Dynamic Risk Factors
Dynamic risk factors are risk factors that can potentially change (such as substance abuse problems, delinquent peers, etc.). Criminogenic needs are dynamic risk factors that, if addressed, lower the risk of reoffending.[2]

Culturally Competent
In the juvenile justice system, “cultural competence” refers to the ability of juvenile justice system professionals–such as police, probation and correctional staff, attorneys, judges, and program providers–“to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and mores that differ across cultures and to respond appropriately to these differences” in interacting with youth and their families, and in planning and implementing programs for them.”[3]

Detained or Detention
Detained youth are youth that the juvenile court has determined need to be removed from their home and confined in a secure juvenile facility known as a “detention” facility prior to their adjudication. (In some jurisdictions, such as New York City, youth are still considered detained even when they are in non-secure detention.) Youth may also be detained when a non-secure placement facility (e.g., shelter care or a treatment program) ejects them for allegedly failing to adjust in placement, or when a youth is accused of violating terms of probation. Detention is usually short-term and detention facilities differ from jails (which are adult-system facilities used to confine adults short-term) or long-term youth lockups, such as state “training” facilities or youth prisons.

Detention Risk Assessment Instrument
A tool used to help the court decide whether to release or detain a youth prior to the adjudication proceedings or trial. Generally, the two main factors that these instruments measure are the youth’s risk of reoffending prior to adjudication and the youth’s risk of failure to appear for trial (FTA).[4]

The disposition is like the sentence in a criminal trial: it is the final outcome in a delinquency case, in which a youth has been found delinquent either through an admission of guilt or trial. There are generally a range of dispositions that a judge can order, including probation (which can include community-based services and treatment programs) and commitment to a juvenile facility.

A system of procedures or programs that direct youth away from formal juvenile justice system processing entirely, as well as programs that divert youth away from secure detention in a juvenile justice facility.

Graduated Sanctions or Responses
Graduated sanctions or responses are a structured system of graduated incentives for youth on community supervision and graduated sanctions to respond to youth misbehavior. The sanctions are implemented progressively and take into account the seriousness of the violation and the youth’s risk level. The incentives reward youth for making progress towards goals.[5]

Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act
The Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act was first established in 1974 and most recently reauthorized in 2002. The act sets federal standards for juvenile justice systems as well as provides funding for state, research, training and technical assistance, and evaluation.[6]

Key Decision Points
Examples of key decision points in juvenile justice include:

  • Juvenile court intake
  • Pretrial detention
  • Disposition or sentencing
  • Probation
  • Placement in a juvenile corrections assessment center
  • Community re-entry

Life Skills
“Life skills” refers to “’teaching abilities for adaptive and positive behaviors that enable persons to deal effectively with the demands and challenges in the family, community, and cultural content of their community.’”[7] The type of skills taught to re-entering youth include the ability to make decisions and solve problems, critical thinking, and how to effectively handle strong emotions and tension.

Protective Factors
Protective factors decrease the potential harmful effect of risk factors. Examples include an easy temperament, healthy social supports, good problem-solving ability, or a strong commitment to school. Also known as buffers or strengths.[8]

Risk Assessment Tools
A risk assessment instrument is a tool used to determine a youth’s likelihood of re-offending. It does not assess or diagnose mental health issues.

Risk Factors
Risk factors are variables associated with an increased likelihood of delinquency or violence.  They include static risk factors – which are factors unlikely to change, such as the age at which a youth committed his or her first offense, a history of violence, or supervision failure – and dynamic risk factors/criminogenic need factors, which are potentially changeable, such as substance abuse problems and delinquent peers.[9]

System of Care Model
In 1992, Congress passed legislation creating the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Initiative, also called the “Systems of Care Model.” The goal of this program was to create a comprehensive array of community-based mental health services and supports that are more effectively delivered to children and their families. The program is implemented by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and encourages multi-agency partnerships between the mental health, juvenile justice, child welfare, and education systems.

Validated Risk Assessment Tools
Risk assessments are considered validated if research has shown that a higher score on the risk assessment is associated with a higher probability of reoffending.[10]


[1] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, “Joint Policy Statement on Aftercare” (January 1, 2005),

[2] Gina M. Vincent, Laura S. Guy, and Thomas Grisso, Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation, (Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change Initiative, November 2012): 32,

[3] Curricula Enhancement Module Series, “Definitions of Cultural Competence,” National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, accessed January 6, 2014 at

[4] David Steinhart, “Juvenile Detention Risk Assessment: A Practical Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform,” (Baltimore: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2006): 9-10.

[5] Jason Szanyi, Lance Horozewski, and Lisa M. Garry, “Implementing an Effective Graduated Responses System” (undated): 1,

[6] Center for Children’s Law and Policy, “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA),” accessed September 6, 2018.

[7] Patty Vonsik, “Reducing Juvenile Delinquency through Enhanced Life Skills” (Institute for Court Management, Court Executive Development Program, Phase III Project, May 2010); 25,

[8] Vincent, Guy, and Grisso, “Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation,” 31.

[9] Vincent, Guy, and Grisso, “Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation,” 31.

[10] The Council of State Governments Justice Center, “Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,” accessed November 24, 2014,