RD455 - Department of Juvenile Justice Transformation Plan 2016 Update – November 1, 2016

Executive Summary:
In recent years, the Department of Juvenile Justice (Department) closely examined its practices and found them to be out of step in certain respects with what research and evidence find are the most effective practices for reducing the recidivism rates of juvenile offenders. The Department also determined that offenders leaving the juvenile justice system, and particularly those offenders released from the Department’s juvenile correctional centers (JCCs), have unacceptably high recidivism rates. Specifically, approximately half of the juveniles released from commitment are rearrested within one year; over three quarters are rearrested within three years.

The Department’s Transformation Plan focuses on three core principles: (1) Safely reduce the use of the state’s large and aging juvenile correctional facilities; (2) Effectively reform supervision, rehabilitation, and treatment practices in all aspects of the juvenile justice system; and (3) Efficiently replace the Department’s two large, outdated JCCs with smaller, regional, rehabilitative and treatment-oriented facilities supported by a statewide continuum of local alternative placements and evidence-based services. These principles have been instrumental in guiding the Department in meeting its fundamental goals of reducing the risk of reoffending for court-involved juveniles, improving and promoting the skills and resiliencies necessary for juveniles to lead successful lives in their communities, and improving public safety for citizens throughout the Commonwealth.

This report on the Department’s Transformation Plan addresses the areas of consideration required by the authorizing language in the 2016 Budget Bill, House Bill (HB) 30, which are most relevant to HB 29 outlining effective and efficient services for court-involved juveniles. This report will provide (i) an update to the information that was presented in the Department’s June 30, 2016, report the “Department of Juvenile Justice Transformation Plan” (the Transformation Plan) and (ii) address all the requirements in HB 30, which states:

“the report shall include, but is not limited to, assessing juvenile offender recidivism rates, fiscal and operational impact on detention homes; changes (if any) in commitment orders by the courts; and the use of the savings redirected as a result of transformation, including the amount expended for contracted programs and treatment services, including the number of juveniles receiving each specific service. The report should also include the average length of stay for juveniles in each placement option.”