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Arkansas Youth Justice: The Architecture of Reform

NCJ Number
Pat Arthur; Christopher Hartney
Date Published
February 2012
47 pages
This report presents information on current reform efforts in Arkansas's juvenile justice system.
This report was prepared by the National Center for Youth Law and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency to highlight current efforts to reform the juvenile justice system in Arkansas. Recent juvenile justice reform efforts in the State have been aimed at rehabilitating young offenders to make them more productive members of the community and reduce their chances for engaging in future criminal behavior. Highlights of these results include the following: from 2008 to 2011, commitments to State custody for juvenile offenders has been reduced by 20 percent, including those for low-level non-dangerous youthful misbehaviors; the average length of stay for State residential treatment centers has been reduced by 19 percent; and the number of dual jurisdiction kids, committed to both the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system, has been reduced by almost 75 percent. Additional improvements noted in the report include the expansion of community services for at-risk youth, improved conditions for youth at State facilities, and decreases in the arrest rates for young offenders. This information in this report is presented in three main sections. The first section presents an overview of the juvenile justice system in Arkansas prior to the start of reform efforts, while the second section describes the general reform efforts along with more specific initiatives. The final section of the report presents several scenarios that suggest ways for current practices to be changed to further the State's reform efforts. Recommendations for policymakers are discussed. Tables, figures, appendixes, and endnotes