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Alternatives to the Secure Detention and Confinement of Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2005
41 pages
This bulletin presents a model procedure for reducing the number of juvenile offenders in secure detention and confinement, so as to reduce crowding in custodial facilities and improve the effectiveness of juvenile case management.
"Secure detention" refers to the holding of youth, upon arrest, in a juvenile detention facility in order to ensure the youth's appearance for all court hearings and to protect the community from future offending. "Secure confinement," on the other hand, involves the placement of adjudicated youth in correctional facilities due to sentencing for periods that range from a few months to several years. Secure-confinement facilities generally have a broader array of resident programs than detention facilities. Alternatives to secure detention and confinement are needed for a number of reasons, two of which are to reduce crowding in such facilities and to improve the effectiveness of juvenile programming in reducing recidivism. This bulletin discusses four approaches for expanding the use of alternatives to secure detention and confinement through systems change: special program initiatives, new legislation that requires changes in current agency practices, administrative reforms, and litigation that addresses violations of juvenile offenders' constitutional rights. The bulletin also discusses objective classification and risk assessment as means for ensuring that case-management decisions carefully measure the risk and needs of each offender, so that placement decisions best meet offender and community needs. Examples of alternatives to secure detention and confinement are also profiled, and features are identified for programs that are most effective in deterring juvenile crime and addressing the root causes of delinquency. Most of these programs do not involve secure custodial settings, but rather work with youth in their communities. 62 references, and appended examples of 8 State assessment and placement systems

Date Published: September 1, 2005