RD41 - Annual Report on the Demographic Characteristics of Juveniles Incarcerated in State Juvenile Correctional Institutions

Executive Summary:
To accomplish its Mission, the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) provides an integrated approach to juvenile justice. We bring together current research and best practices to better understand and modify delinquent behavior, to meet the needs of offenders, victims, and communities, and to manage our activities and resources in a responsible and proactive manner.


DJJ responds to juvenile offenders through a balanced approach that provides: (1) protection of public safety by control of a juvenile's liberty through secure confinement and/or community supervision; (2) a structured system of incentives and graduated sanctions in both institutional and community settings to ensure accountability for the juvenile's actions; and (3) a variety of services and programs that build skills and competencies (e.g., substance abuse treatment, support for academic and vocational education, anger management classes) to enable the juvenile to become a law-abiding member of the community upon release from DJJ's supervision.


DJJ is committed to the principle that the greatest impact on juvenile offending can be realized by focusing resources on those juvenile offenders with the highest risk of reoffending and by addressing the individual criminogenic/risk factors that contribute to the initiation and continuation of delinquent behavior. Using a set of research and consensus-based instruments at different decision points within the juvenile justice system, DJJ classifies juveniles into different levels of "risk." These points include the initial decision to detain, the assignment to various levels of community probation or parole supervision, and the classification of committed juveniles to guide appropriate placement within the institutional setting.

In addition to the matching of the most intensive resources to those juveniles with the highest "risk," DJJ recognizes that successful responses to juvenile crime require tailored, individualized responses to the needs of juveniles, families, and communities. The presence of specific risk factors are assessed and responded to in order to increase the likelihood of successful outcomes. Issues implicated in juvenile offending include gang involvement, substance abuse, anger management, truancy, and other school-related problems. The application of appropriate social control and sanctioning strategies such as electronic monitoring, urine drug testing, and various levels of supervision are also matched to the juvenile's individualized circumstances. Incentives such as early release from supervision, extended curfew, and tangible rewards such as recreational outings with volunteers are used to reward success and improve the chances of long-term behavior change.


Over the past several years, DJJ has greatly enhanced its ability to effectively plan for and manage juveniles, programs, services, and other resources. DJJ designed functional management information systems and used the data generated and reported from these systems to better understand the offender population, activities in relation to those offenders, and methods to become more effective and efficient. The juvenile Tracking System (JTS) is comprised of modules covering the full range of institutional and community-based activities. DJJ's philosophy is that sound management of public resources and adherence to our core Mission cannot be accomplished without input provided from comprehensive data-based practices.


While DJJ has the primary responsibility for many aspects of Virginia's juvenile justice system, collaborative partnerships with state and local agencies and programs, as well as with private sector service providers, is the cornerstone of the DJJ approach. Local governments operate a network of secure detention facilities and an array of services addressing each aspect of the balanced approach. Within each community DJJ works with law enforcement, behavioral health providers, schools, social services, and other agencies. Securing services from private providers assists DJJ in meeting the needs of juvenile offenders, their families, and communities. At the state level DJJ works with other executive, legislative, and judicial branch agencies in a similar manner.

Through the application of the integrated approach to juvenile justice, DJJ continues to make a difference in the lives of citizens and communities across the Commonwealth. Through responsible resource management, performance accountability, and sound intervention strategies, DJJ strives to improve and meet the changing demands of juvenile justice practice.