Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
  Juvenile Justice
Juvenile Justice cover 450

View, buy, or
download (free) the report


Reforming JJ 150

View, buy, or
download (free) the report

Federal Funding Sources for Youth in Juvenile Justice
 Over the last three years the Committee on Law and Justice has contributed to efforts to improve the juvenile justice system by synthesizing an explosion of knowledge about adolescent development and the neurological underpinnings of adolescent behavior and assessing its implications for juvenile justice reform. In recent years much has been learned about the pathways by which adolescents become delinquent, the effectiveness of prevention and treatment programs, and the long-term effects of transferring youths to the adult system and confining them in harsh conditions. These findings have raised doubts about the wisdom and effectiveness of laws passed in the 1990s that criminalized many juvenile offenses and led more youths to be tried as adults. Some jurisdictions have already taken significant steps to reverse these policies and to overhaul their juvenile justice system. Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, released in 2013 aims to consolidate the progress that has been made in both science and policymaking and establish a strong platform for a 21st century juvenile justice system. It takes an in-depth look at evidence on adolescent development and on effective responses to adolescent offending. The report concludes that changes are needed if the juvenile justice system is to meet its aims of holding adolescents accountable, preventing reoffending, and treating them fairly.

After the release of the first report, momentum for reform continued to grow. However, many more state, local, and tribal jurisdictions needed assistance, and practitioners in the juvenile justice field were looking for guidance from the federal government, particularly from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the Department of Justice to guide further change. Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform identifies and prioritizes strategies and policies to effectively facilitate reform of the juvenile justice system and develops an implementation plan for OJJDP. Based on the 2013 report Reforming Juvenile Justice, this report is designed to provide specific guidance to OJJDP regarding the steps that it should take, both internally and externally, to facilitate juvenile justice reform grounded in knowledge about adolescent development. The report identifies seven hallmarks of a developmental approach to juvenile justice to guide system reform: accountability without criminalization, alternatives to justice system involvement, individualized response based on needs and risks, confinement only when necessary for public safety, genuine commitment to fairness, sensitivity to disparate treatment, and family engagement. Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform outlines how these hallmarks should be incorporated into policies and practices within OJJDP, as well as in actions extended to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to achieve the goals of the juvenile justice system through a developmentally informed approach.
Additional Materials

Dissemination Toolkit
  • Report Briefs
  • Presentations
  • Videos

In the News

Embattled Listenbee Draws Praise from Advocates – Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (February 11, 2015)

Louisiana trails in survey of annual spending on jailed youth
– The Times Picayune (December 9, 2014)

Experts Blast Federal Approach to Juvenile Crime – The Crime Report (October 30, 2014)

National Academy Calls on OJJDP to Act on Racial, Ethnic Disparities – The Crime Report (September 16, 2014)

OJJDP Should Strengthen DMC Requirement: Report – Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (September 15, 2014)

Guest Author: Experts Call for Juvenile Justice System Overhaul – The Youth Project (December 6, 2013)

Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach – National Institute of Corrections (April 3, 2013)

The Juvenile Brain: Adolescent Behavior and Brain Research – Strategies for Youth: Connecting Cops & Kids (February 2013)

Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach – Juvenile & Family Justice Today (Winter 2013)

A New Report from the National Research Council Sheds Light on Developmental Competency Among Juveniles — Mental Competency (November 26, 2012)

National Resources: Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach – Michigan Juvenile Justice Collaborative

OP-ED: The Adolescent Brain and Substance Abuse: Looking the Elephant in the EyeChildren and the Law Blog

Juvenile Justice Reports & PapersCriminal Defense Issues

Juvenile Justice Resource GuideNational Center for State Courts

Press Release – Reforming Juvenile Justice(November 13, 2012)


CLAJ Home About CLAJ CLAJ Mission CLAJ Members CLAJ Staff Other Sites of Interest News and Events Upcoming Events Past Events Our Work Overview Current Projects Past Projects Publications CLAJ Reports CLAJ Newsletter Work With Us Our Study Process Study Process Brochure Getting to Know the Committee Process Overview for Sponsors Guide for Study Sponsors