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Pioneers of Youth Justice Reform: Achieving System Change Using Resolution, Reinvestment, and Realignment Strategies, JJC and CUNY, 2012

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Pioneers of Youth Justice Reform:
Achieving System Change Using Resolution,
Reinvestment, and Realignment Strategies
Douglas N. Evans
Research and Evaluation Center
July 2012

COLLEGE
OF
CRIMINAL
JUSTICE

THE AUTHOR
Douglas N. Evans is a research analyst with the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. He oversees research on youth justice
initiatives, including the effects of policies and programs that divert resources from state
institutions to community-based providers. He will earn the Ph.D. in criminal justice from Indiana
University-Bloomington in 2012 and in September 2012, he will join the faculty at Mercy College
of New York.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This report was made possible by grants from the New York Community Trust and the Annie E.
Casey Foundation to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Research Foundation of the
City University of New York. The author wishes to thank Benjamin Chambers and Jeffrey Butts
for their comments and suggestions during the preparation of this document. Any opinions or
conclusions presented in the report are those of the author alone.

RECOMMENDED CITATION
Evans, Douglas N. (2012). Pioneers of Youth Justice Reform: Achieving System Change Using
Resolution, Reinvestment, and Realignment Strategies. New York, NY: Research and Evaluation
Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Summary					 1
Introduction					 2
Resolution Models				
	
Massachusetts			
	
Utah				
	
Missouri				
	
Arkansas				

4
5	
6
8

4

Reinvestment Models				 10
	
California (Subisdy)			
	
Pennsylvania			
	
Wisconsin				
	
Ohio				
	
California (Sliding Scale)		
	
North Carolina			
	
Deschutes County, Oregon		
	
Illinois				
	
Florida				
	
Texas				

12
15 	
18
21
24
26
30
32
35
38

Realignment Models				 41
	
Wayne County, Mighigan		
	
California				
	
Texas				
	
New York				

42
47
50
52

Conclusion				 	55
References					57

01

SUMMARY |
In the past three decades, state and local governments implemented a
variety of reform strategies to reduce the youth justice system’s reliance
on confinement facilities and to serve as many youth as possible in their
own homes or at least in their own communities when removal from the
home is warranted. The various reform strategies may be conceptualized as
relying on three distinct but interrelated mechanisms: resolution, reinvestment, and realignment (Butts and Evans 2011). Resolution refers to the use
of managerial authority and administrative directives to influence system
change; reinvestment entails the use of financial incentives to encourage
system change; and realignment employs organizational and structural modifications to create new systems. This report describes the history and implementation of the most well-known reform initiatives that draw upon one or
more of these mechanisms to achieve system change and it considers their
impact on juvenile confinement at the state and local level.

02

INTRODUCTION |
In recent years, advocates for juvenile justice reform have welcomed a
growing trend. State and local jurisdictions have begun to shift policies
and practices toward treating and supervising young offenders in their own
communities, instead of incarcerating them in distant correctional institutions
operated by state government. The timing of these reforms is probably not
coincidental. Rates of serious and violent youth crime have plummeted for
more than 15 years (Butts 2012), and governmental budgets are strained
due to lingering effects of the deep recession that began in 2008.
Because juvenile crime rates have fallen nationwide even as fewer youth
have been incarcerated and the youth population has grown, many
policymakers searching for smart ways to keep the public safe while reducing
costs have implemented reforms that limit the use of secure confinement
for young offenders. What will happen if juvenile crime rates rise and the
economy recovers? In such an environment, would policymakers reverse the
recent reforms in spite of their effectiveness in saving money and protecting
the public safety? The question facing the youth justice field today is, “will
the reforms last?”
In 2011, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation
Center reviewed the history and impact of the leading reform efforts to limit
the use of secure confinement for young offenders (Butts and Evans 2011).
We found that reform initiatives rely, generally speaking, on three strategies
for achieving system change:
• resolution (direct managerial influence over system behavior);
• reinvestment (financial incentives to change system behavior); and
• realignment (organizational and structural modifications to alter
system behavior).
Of course, the strategies are not mutually exclusive. A number of reform
initiatives that rely largely on realignment began with financial reinvestment
efforts, and all reforms could be described as begining with the resolution of
managers and administrators.

03

The various initiatives borrow extensively from one another and later
approaches are undoutedly inspired by previous efforts. California’s Probation
Subsidy, for example, clearly provided the foundation for Pennsylvania’s
Act 148, and both initiatives influenced the design of Wisconsin Youth Aids.
Redeploy Illinois drew heavily from the lessons learned by policymakers
implementing RECLAIM Ohio. Most of the initiatives continue to change and
develop, but they are presented here in chronological order according to the
time of their earliest appearance to illustrate the evolution of each reform
strategy.
State and local governments continue to implement youth justice reform
initiatives that use one or more of the three strategies we described in our
2011 report. This report provides more detailed information about these
reform efforts. The goal of the report, much like our previous report, is to
clarify the distinctions between the three models, and to show why, in our
view, realignment is more likely than either resolution or reinvestment to
result in system changes that are sustainable.

04

RESOLUTION MODELS |
Resolution, the most straightforward and common method method for
reforming juvenile justice systems, is the use of managerial power to
implement change. The prime example of this is the work of Jerome Miller,
who revolutionized juvenile justice management when he shut down juvenile
facilities across Massachusetts in the early 1970s. By removing out-of-home
placement options, he made it impossible for judges to incarcerate
young offenders. When evaluations indicated that Miller’s reforms did not
compromise public safety, other states began to follow his lead.

MASSACHUSETTS
Jerome Miller became Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of
Youth Services (DYS) in 1969. He found that the longer a juvenile stayed
in a DYS facility, the worse he or she performed following release (Miller
1991), regardless of risk-level. Miller attributed this to the department’s
institutional culture, and he attempted to reform the department by
establishing institutional therapeutic communities to encourage rehabilitation
of youth. To support the shift, Miller implemented a number of changes,
including staff training in humane treatment of youth, educational programs,
clinical evaluations, and counseling. Staff members, unable to modify their
perception of their role to adhere to Miller’s vision of humane juvenile
treatment, resisted his reforms. Miller subsequently concluded that it was
impossible to restructure the institutional culture, and in 1972 he shut down
the department and closed every state juvenile facility.
Although other state officials were
concerned about handling violent
juvenile offenders, Miller believed
that institutions existed to be
occupied, and he recognized that
the number of available beds was
a key determinant in the size of an
institutional population. After closing
the DYS facilities, Miller limited
the number of beds in smaller,

05

Even after facilities had been shut down, the state
continued to pay staff to fill empty institutions,
which made it difficult for Miller to obtain
the funding required to relocate juveniles into
community-based placements.
localized treatment-based youth facilities to 35, and in doing so, reduced
the number of juvenile offenders labeled as “dangerous” (Miller 1991). By
limiting commitments to only the highest-risk youth, Miller’s reforms enabled
low-level offenders, the majority of adjudicated youth, to remain in their
communities.
Miller had little support for closing DYS facilities from other policymakers.
Even after facilities had been shut down, the state continued to pay staff to
fill empty institutions, which made it difficult for Miller to obtain the funding
required to relocate juveniles into community-based placements. Although
Miller secured federal grant money and found loopholes that enabled him
to reallocate some money earmarked for institutions, the state was slow to
contribute its share to community-based programs, because they were not a
budget priority. This deprived smaller programs of funds needed to care for
the juveniles who had already been accepted (Miller 1991).
In the long run, however, the Massachusetts reforms were effective, though
radical. Juvenile crime in Massachusetts declined in subsequent years
and fewer juveniles released from DYS programs ended up in adult court
(Schwartz 1989). For this reason, the reforms became a model for other
states seeking to save on the high costs of juvenile incarceration, provide
effective youth rehabilitation, and improve their juvenile justice systems.

UTAH
In the mid 1970s, the state of Utah nearly lost control of its Youth
Development Center (YDC), a large (350 bed) residential facility for juvenile
delinquents, when it was sued for inhumane treatment of its juvenile wards.

06

Rather than hand the YDC over to a federal court, incoming Governor Scott
Matheson appointed a task force to review the state juvenile justice system
and offer recommendations for change. Influenced by the Massachusetts
reforms, the task force proposed shutting down the Youth Development
Center.
Governor Matheson closed the YDC and transformed the Utah juvenile justice
system. Youth rehabilitation became the primary objective, and reforms
acknowledged that the conditions inside state facilities conflicted with
successful rehabilitation. In place of the YDC, Utah funded community-based
programs and built three small, high-security facilities with space limited to
60 beds (Krisberg 2005). Money that had been previously allocated to the
YDC was reallocated to community-based programs. The reforms saved Utah
millions of dollars in a short amount of time and improved the outcomes of
juvenile offenders (Schwartz 1989). Between 1979 and 1982, the number of
juveniles in Utah residential facilities decreased 57 percent. By 1982, Utah
had one of the lowest youth residential facility admission rates in the country
(Krisberg et al. 1986).

MISSOURI
Forty years ago, juvenile facilities in Missouri were notorious for overcrowding
and deplorable conditions. In response to recurring criticism, Missouri officials
launched an ambitious reform of the state’s juvenile justice system. By
1983, state officials had shut down both the boys’ and girls’ youth training
schools (Missouri Division of Youth Services 2010b). Youth housed in these
large state institutions were often confined hundreds of miles from their
homes and families; once the training schools were shut down, youth were
shifted to smaller, local facilities dispersed across the state. This transition
proved to be cost-effective (Balck 2010). There are currently 25 community
care facilities, group homes, and moderate security facilities for juveniles
throughout Missouri, each containing between 10 and 50 beds. Seven
secure-care facilities remain to house more serious offenders, but these
facilities are smaller and more rehabilitative than the former training schools
-- each houses no more than 36 juveniles at a time. There are no longer any
prison-like facilities for juveniles in Missouri.

07

The Missouri approach to rehabilitation in
residential facilities has shown promise. For every
youth steered away from a life of crime, Missouri
saves at least $3 million in victim costs and
criminal justice expenses, in addition to any taxes
the youth might pay during his or her lifetime.
Contemporary residential facilities are designed to be nothing like the prisons
the old training schools resembled. Juveniles are never locked up, and there
are no cell bars. Youth have freedom to move about their dorm rooms, wear
any clothing they choose, and hang up artwork on their room walls. During
their stay, juveniles spend a majority of their time in treatment groups that
offer a structured and therapeutic environment, as opposed to isolation in a
cell. They receive educational services, job training, and communication and
problem-solving skills to help them succeed after their release. Their families
are encouraged to visit and participate in the rehabilitation process. Aftercare
planning to help youth prepare to reenter their communities begins prior
to their release and youth are closely monitored during the first few weeks
following release (Mendel 2010).
The Missouri approach to rehabilitation in residential facilities has shown
promise. For every youth steered away from a life of crime, Missouri saves at
least $3 million in victim costs and criminal justice expenses, in addition to
any taxes the youth might pay during his or her lifetime (Mendel 2010). Of
the youth released from custody in 2010, 84 percent remained law-abiding
one year after their release (Missouri Division of Youth Services 2010a).
Fewer than eight percent of juveniles released from the Missouri system
return, which is approximately the same percentage that end up in adult
prison (Edelman 2010). These results have gained national recognition; the
approach is now known as the “Missouri Model.” Several states have begun to
replicate or are considering replicating the Missouri Model.

08

ARKANSAS
Arkansas was in need of less costly and more effective methods for handling
juvenile delinquents. By fiscal year 2008, the price of juvenile incarceration
had exhausted the state budget: it cost the state $150 per day to confine
one juvenile in a state correctional facility and over $500 per day to send
a youth to a mental health facility (Arthur and Roche 2008). When judges
placed juvenile delinquents in a community-based program, however, it
cost only $86 each day (Public Welfare Foundation 2010). But judges often
confined youth because many local jurisdictions had limited communitybased alternatives (Arthur and Roche 2008).
Because juvenile crime had dropped 41 percent between 1998 and 2007
(Kelly 2008), policymakers had a window of opportunity in which to make
change. When crime is high, the public tends to demand punishment, but
when crime is low, governments can focus on evidence-based reform.
The Arkansas General Assembly passed Senate Resolution 31 in 2007.
Resolution 31 provided the initial impetus for reform by requesting an
analysis of the current juvenile justice system and an exploration of
methods for improvement (State of Arkansas 86th General Assembly 2007).
Research consultants teamed with the National Center for Youth Law to
offer a comprehensive overview of the juvenile justice system and several
recommendations for reforms (Arthur and Roche 2008).
As a result, in 2009 the Arkansas Department of Youth Services (DYS)
introduced a five-year plan to reform the state’s juvenile justice system.
The reforms seek to alter multiple facets of the juvenile justice system and
shift the emphasis from incarceration to community-based treatment. Plan
goals include reductions in youth confinement, investment in the expansion
of community-based options, and maximizing current funding while seeking
new sources of funds for juvenile services (Arkansas Department of Human
Services 2009).
Arkansas is now more than halfway through implementation of its
five-year plan for juvenile justice reform and shows early indicators of
change. The state has launched pilot programs and continues to add to its
community-based programming options. One of its goals was to reduce the
population of juveniles in state custody by 50 percent as of 2014 (Arkansas

09

Department of Human Services 2009), and the juvenile incarceration rate has
decreased each year over the last three years, in part because fewer youth
are being arrested. In 2009, there were 636 juveniles in Department of Youth
Services (DYS) facilities. The DYS population declined to 531 juveniles in
2010 and 481 juveniles in 2011. Thirteen counties did not place any juveniles
in a secure facility in 2007 (Arthur and Roche 2008). In addition, the number
of re-incarcerated juveniles decreased 20 percentage points between the
fiscal year 2010 and 2011 (Arkansas Department of Human Services 2011).
Despite the drop in overall commitments to state facilities, the rate of
non-violent juvenile commitments has increased, while the rate of violent and
serious juvenile commitments has decreased. In Fiscal Year 1997, 30 percent
of commitments were misdemeanor offenders, but in FY 2008, 90 percent of
juveniles in DYS facilities were non-violent offenders. During this time, the
rate of serious offending youth commitments decreased from 26 percent to
15 percent (Arthur and Roche 2008). The result is that the DYS population
now consists disproportionately of low-level juvenile offenders. Nevertheless,
Arkansas continues to apply tactics used by other states to shift reliance from
secure placement to community-based treatment.

10

REINVESTMENT MODELS |
The most significant issues facing juvenile justice systems are cost and
recidivism. While the cost of community-based supervision and treatment is
significant, incarceration is far more expensive and offers less in the way of
rehabilitation. It costs state governments approximately $100,000 per year
to incarcerate one juvenile, and in California, the annual cost has reached
$225,000 (Ferriss 2010). Given that more than 80,000 juveniles served
time in state institutions in the U.S. in 2008, it’s no surprise that juvenile
incarceration creates significant expenditures nationwide (Sickmund 2010).
According to a recent estimate, the U.S. spends about $5.7 billion a year on
juvenile incarceration (Petteruti, Walsh and Velazquez 2009).
While incarceration may be necessary for a small number of high-risk
juveniles, it appears to be harmful for most youth. Incarcerated juveniles,
especially those low in risk, tend to recidivate at higher rates than youth
treated in their homes or communities. In spite of this, many youth courts
place juveniles in state facilities for committing non-violent, low-level
offenses or violating probation. Furthermore, community-based alternatives
are not available in many states, leaving courts with no dispositional option
besides incarceration.
Since state governments are typically responsible for a majority of the costs
of juvenile incarceration, county courts are often able to send juveniles to
state institutions without financial penalty. To reduce juvenile incarceration
and conserve financial resources, therefore, a number of jurisdictions have
adopted reinvestment strategies. Reinvestment is the creation of financial
incentives that encourage state and county governments to reduce spending
on incarceration and instead fund
community-based programming.
The objective is to conserve
financial resources and improve the
rehabilitative impact of the juvenile
justice system.
States that adopt reinvestment
strategies offer financial incentives
to counties for reducing their

11

The Council of State Governments Justice
Center works with jurisdictions across the
U.S. to implement reinvestment approaches, and
has created a strategy for effectively putting
reinvestment into operation.
use of incarceration. The incentives enable counties to fund and develop
community-based treatment programs for juveniles and keep them out of
state facilities (Balck 2010). Under a reinvestment model, the state also
holds counties accountable for at least a portion of the costs of juvenile
confinement. At least three states (California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) charge
counties for institutional placement on a sliding scale, meaning that the cost
of incarceration increases as the severity of the juvenile’s offense decreases.
State governments that minimize correctional costs can invest the savings
in community-based treatment programs, victim services, housing services,
education, employment, and risk prevention strategies.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center works with jurisdictions
across the U.S. to implement reinvestment approaches, and has created a
strategy for effectively putting reinvestment into operation. Stakeholders
begin by collecting data on community variables: crime hot spots, factors
that affect crime, arrest, conviction, and recidivism rates, information
on the institutional and community supervision populations, and the
neighborhoods most in need of resources (Council of State Governments
Justice Center 2010). After compiling this data, the next step is to establish
cost-reducing policies in each phase of the system; for example, prioritizing
arrests, reducing bail restrictions, efficient case processing, and community
sentencing when the offender’s risk level is appropriate. It is important
for stakeholders to conduct ongoing evaluations, document cost-benefit
analyses, measure the savings associated with the modifications, and ensure
that key players are accountable (Council of State Governments Justice
Center 2010; La Vigne et al. 2010). Adopting a reinvestment approach,
then, is a lengthy and system-wide process, but it has helped many states to
reduce unnecessary expenditures, conserve resources, and reallocate savings
toward programs that improve rehabilitation and promote public safety.

12

It is difficult to isolate the impact of reinvestment
strategies on youth confinement rates. Every
community benefits from the nationwide reduction
in crime rates, and when crime rates are low, it
is easier for policymakers to promote strategies
that reduce the use of confinement. When crime

rates rise or politics shift, will these reinvestment
strategies be scaled back or abandoned?

It is difficult to isolate the impact of reinvestment strategies on youth
confinement rates. Every community benefits from the nationwide reduction
in crime rates, and when crime rates are low, it is easier for policymakers
to promote strategies that reduce the use of confinement. When crime
rates rise or politics shift, will these reinvestment strategies be scaled back
or abandoned? Deschutes County, Oregon, for example, discontinued its
reinvestment program when its six-year pilot expired. It remains to be seen
how the jurisdictions described below will respond if and when juvenile crime
increases. Will policymakers continue their reinvestment strategies or will
they implement policies that support expansions in youth confinement?

CALIFORNIA (SUBSIDY)
Modern juvenile justice reinvestment can be traced back to the California
Youth Authority’s enactment of the Probation Subsidy Act in 1965. The goal
of the legislation was to keep adjudicated juveniles out of state institutions
and close to home on probation.
The stage was set for the Subsidy Act when California offered payments to
counties to subsidize the costs of probation in 1945, to encourage statewide
use of probation and keep low-level offenders out of state institutions.
Probation became a standard sentence for first time and non-serious
offenders once counties had the resources and personnel to fund and
supervise caseloads.

13

Over time, however, probationers became difficult to manage as caseloads
increased and staff sizes remained constant. Probation officers were forced
to handle caseloads as high as three times the recommended standard of
the day, raising concerns that probation services were becoming ineffective.
Meaningful supervision became unrealistic because a majority of probation
officer work was spent on routine check-ins and paperwork. To cope with
the burden, probation departments referred more offenders to state
institutions. The belief was that inmates could receive better treatment while
incarcerated. The result was a large growth in the California correctional
population, where recidivism was close to 50 percent (Smith 1972). From
1952 to 1968, the number of juvenile beds in state institutions increased
from 2,500 to 6,421 (Breed 1974). The growth of the correctional system
created a need for new facilities. As more offenders were institutionalized,
taxpayer spending on state corrections was among the highest in the nation.
To improve the supervision of probationers and reduce the reliance on costly
institutional placements, the California legislature passed the Probation
Subsidy Act of 1965. The Act offered financial incentives to counties willing
to use probation instead of state corrections. State officials believed that
probation was the most effective and cost-efficient way to manage at least
one-fourth of the offenders being sent to state institutions. If probation
departments were rewarded for achieving certain objectives, the hope was
that probation would improve.
Under the Probation Subsidy Act, county probation departments received
between $2,080 and $4,000 for each offender not committed to a state
institution. The $4,000 maximum was set because it represented the
minimum cost for placing one juvenile in a state institution (Smith 1972).
Probation subsidy established a cost-effective system that required county
accountability for handling offenders. The financial incentives discouraged
incarceration, which enabled the state to save on the high cost of
out-of-home placements. Probation departments used the savings to hire
more officers, supervisors, support staff, and aid positions.
Between 1965 and 1969, the percentage of convicted offenders placed in
state prisons and juvenile institutions decreased from 23 percent to almost
10 percent (Smith 1972). From 1970 to 1971, 44 participating counties were
able to reduce their combined institutional commitments by 4,495, and as

14

a result were rewarded with more than $18 million from the state (Breed
1974). The program ultimately resulted in the diversion of more than 45,000
offenders (Smith 1972). The reduction in the correctional population allowed
California to close at least one correctional facility and halt the construction
of future facilities, which saved millions.
Several policies and reforms emerged following the success of probation
subsidy. Treatment professionals began categorizing juveniles based on
their needs. Probation departments adopted therapeutic community models
and work release for eligible juveniles. The Increased Parole Effectiveness
Program (IPEP) was launched in 1971 to improve state parole. The IPEP
established empirical measures to assess parole officer performance,
increased the number of parole officers by 100 to ameliorate caseloads, and
connected parolees to treatment resources in the community. Within one
year, the IPEP reduced the number of parole revocations (Breed 1974).
Although the California Probation Subsidy Act was financially successful,
probation eventually became more and more expensive as a result of high
numbers of offenders entering the system, many of whom were arrested
for drug offenses. Because the state never raised its subsidy, however — it
remained capped at $4,000 — county enthusiasm for the program waned.
Moreover, the treatment programs that were to accompany probation never
materialized at the county level, so probation amounted to little more than a
system of supervision.
The California reforms eventually caught on in other states. In 1969,
Washington State passed the Juvenile Probation Subsidy Act, modeled after
California’s. Prior to its passage, Washington had been unable to provide
juvenile delinquents with proper treatment, so county courts frequently
committed juveniles to state facilities. The new act halted this trend and
offered counties financial incentives to develop youth treatment programs.
This drastically reduced the juvenile institutional population (Department of
Social and Health Services 1975). The success of Washington’s probation
subsidy confirmed that financial rearrangements between states and counties
could reduce state expenditures and generate funds for counties to create
community-based options for adjudicated juveniles.

15

In 1976, the Pennsylvania legislature passed
Act 148 to address two goals: reduce the
number of incarcerated juveniles and develop
programs to supervise and treat juveniles in
their communities. Act 148 was inspired by

the 1950s deinstitutionalization movement,
in which officials moved persons with mental
illness out of state facilities and opened
community treatment facilities.

California discontinued the Probation Subsidy Act in 1978. In its 13-year
existence, Probation Subsidy led to reductions in incarceration and financial
savings for counties. Most importantly for other states, it provided the
blueprint for a financial structure that discouraged incarceration.

PENNSYLVANIA
In the 1960s, Pennsylvania juvenile justice was disorganized and had no
central method for handling juvenile offenders. Because the state paid for
incarceration, it was less costly for counties to place juvenile offenders in
a state facility than to supervise them locally (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke
2006). There was no incentive for counties to provide in-home supervision
or treatment for adjudicated juveniles, and county judges had discretion to
send juvenile delinquents to adult prison. As a result, many juveniles were
sentenced to the State Correctional Institution, an adult facility in Camp
Hill, Pennsylvania, where they could be held until age 21. A 1975 court
ruling ultimately outlawed the incarceration of juveniles at Camp Hill (Youth
Advocate Programs 2011). The ruling was a spark for juvenile justice reform.
In 1976, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 148 to address two goals:
reduce the number of incarcerated juveniles and develop programs to
supervise and treat juveniles in their communities. Act 148 was inspired by
the 1950s deinstitutionalization movement, in which officials moved persons

16

with mental illness out of state facilities and opened community treatment
facilities. In its turn, Act 148 made it a priority to keep juveniles in-home
and offer treatments such as after-school programs, outpatient counseling,
and case management services through private providers. If a judge decided
that a juvenile could not remain at home, the next preferred placement was
a group home or a non-secure treatment facility in the community. This
allowed juveniles to attend school and hold a job in a work release program
(Aryna et al. 2005). The last resort was to send juvenile offenders to a
secure facility.
To achieve its goals, Act 148 altered the financial arrangement between
the state and counties, and offered counties fiscal incentives to develop
alternatives to incarceration for at-risk youth. There were no requirements
for specific programs, which allowed counties freedom to create alternatives,
as long as they adhered to the missions of public safety and youth
rehabilitation outside of confinement (Aryna et al. 2005).
To cover the costs of services, Act 148 integrated four funding sources in a
formula still used today. Funding sources are tapped in a specified order to
cover the costs of home-based, community-based, or institutional services.
Private funds from juvenile clients, their families, and government benefits
(e.g., Social Security) must be used first. Federal funds are used next, such
as Title IV-E Placement Maintenance, which covers the costs of out-of-home
placements resulting from delinquency or dependency, or TANF (Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families), which subsidizes support services for
families in need. When federal funds are drained, state funds are available to
reimburse counties for juvenile justice and child welfare expenditures. The
state reimburses counties for 80 percent of the cost of community-based
services, but only 40 percent for the costs of confinement in a state facility
or juvenile detention center (Petteruti, Walsh and Velasquez 2009). The last
resort for any county that exhausts private, federal, and state funds is to
utilize its own financial resources (Griffin 2003).
Act 148 showed success within a few years of its enactment. Between
1981 and 1984, there was a 20 percent increase in juveniles entering
community-based programs and a 52 percent increase in juveniles entering
day treatment (Aryna et al. 2005). During the same three-year span, state
subsidies for county programming increased from $65 million to $114 million.

17

State reimbursements gave counties the flexibility to develop risk-focused
programming, counseling assistance, and monitoring services. The funds also
enabled juvenile court judges to retain low-level juvenile offenders in their
communities so that they could receive treatment while attending school
and work. Until the mid-1970s, most counties did not have the resources
available to develop community-based services, but the incentives in Act 148
established the necessary funding.
Most significantly, juvenile commitments to state facilities dropped 24
percent between 1981 and 1984, a trend that continued into the 21st
century. By 2003, only five percent of adjudicated juveniles taken out of their
homes were confined in a secure facility (Arnya et al. 2005).
The financial arrangement of Act 148 concerned both state and county
governments. The state worried that counties had unrestricted use of
funds, while counties did not want to be locked into a fixed budget and
risk depleting state funds prior to the end of the fiscal year. In the 1990s,
the state legislature amended Act 148 to create a system of needs-based
planning and budgeting, to allow for a more flexible use of state funds
(Arnya et al. 2005).
Under the needs-based
system, counties submit
a budget proposal for
planned services to the
Department of Public
Welfare (DPW). The
DPW then submits an
aggregate proposal to
the legislature, which
allocates funds as
needed. Needs-based
planning and budgeting
gives counties flexibility
to request funding for
programs as needed, and
it provides the state with
budgetary oversight.

18

Act 148 transformed juvenile justice in Pennsylvania. Secure institutions
are rarely used, and counties have more financial resources to strengthen
probation departments and develop treatment programs, supervision
services, and in-home counseling. Private service providers manage many of
the community-based services. The youth programs in Allegheny County are
so effective that neighboring states utilize them from time to time, although
Pennsylvania does not bear these costs (Arnya et al. 2005). Act 148 provided
a framework for other states seeking to reduce costs and rehabilitate
juveniles.

WISCONSIN
Prior to the passage of the Community Youth and Family Aids Program
(Youth Aids) in 1979, the state of Wisconsin was accountable for the
costs of youth incarceration, while counties were responsible for funding
local supervision and rehabilitation programs. Because most counties
lacked the financial resources to create and sustain juvenile rehabilitation
programs, incarceration became a primary option. Recognizing that funding
arrangements created financial incentives for counties to place juveniles in
secure institutions, Wisconsin emulated Pennsylvania and passed the Youth
Aids legislation to address the problem.
The Department of Juvenile Corrections launched Youth Aids on January
1, 1981. Youth Aids held counties financially accountable for juvenile
incarceration and dispersed funding from the Department of Health and
Human Services to counties for the development of community-based
alternatives to incarceration (Balck 2010). Ten counties participated in the
Youth Aids pilot program; one year later, 72 counties shared $25.5 million in
state Youth Aids funds (Carmichael 2011). The revised funding arrangement
shifted Wisconsin toward a treatment-focused juvenile justice system.
Youth Aids had several initial objectives. The primary goal was to decentralize
the financial management of juvenile justice from the state and enable
counties to manage autonomous juvenile justice systems. Another objective
was to divert young people from out-of-home placements by enabling local
jurisdictions to supervise and treat juveniles through in-home or communitybased programs. For juveniles who could not be treated in their homes,
Youth Aids sought to reduce the length of time they spend in out-of-home
placements (Stuiber et al. 1999).

19

Still in operation today, Youth Aids uses a formula to disburse state funds
to counties. The formula is based on three statistics: the county’s juvenile
population, number of juvenile arrests, and number of juveniles from each
county placed in a state facility (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006). Initially,
$78 million was set as the total base allocation for Youth Aids (Carmichael
2007); extra funds were allocated for specific purposes: alcohol and drug
abuse treatment ($1.3 million), corrective sanctions ($2.1 million), arrest
supplement ($200,000) and emergency funds for small counties ($250,000).
To ensure that smaller counties received adequate funding, a 1982 provision
mandated that counties receive no less than $19,000 in Youth Aids funds.
Between 1999 and 2007, the legislature added $17.6 million in additional
funds, bringing the total amount of state Youth Aids funds to more than
$100 million by 2008 (Carmichael 2011). The funds — a mix of federal and
state money — have enabled Wisconsin to continue its Youth Aids program
and offer an array of community-based services to adjudicated juveniles.
In addition, the Wisconsin Division of Juvenile Corrections oversees three
juvenile institutions, two of which are male-only, and one female-only.
Counties must follow guidelines when spending Youth Aids funds. According
to state statute, the cost of out-of-home placements must be paid first, and
any remaining funds can then be used to finance community-based programs
(Stuiber et al. 1999). Since juvenile court judges have the discretion to
use in-home or out-of-home placements based on a youth’s offense and
background, the guidelines are meant to encourage them to consider
community-based options before institutional placement.
There are crucial differences in supervision and available treatment options
associated with in-home and out-of-home dispositions. In-home supervision
ranges from minimal (weekly check-ins) to strict (intensive supervision,
electronic monitoring). There may be additional requirements to participate
in any of the following: individual or family counseling, after-school
activities, work supervision, vocational training, restitution payments to
victims, community service, or victim-offender mediation. Counties provide
community-based juvenile services themselves, or contract with private
organizations to provide such services (Carmichael 2011). Out-of-home
dispositions are reserved for serious or repeat juvenile offenders or
delinquents who cannot live at home. These placements range from foster or
group homes to secure facilities (Stuiber et al. 1999).

20

Youth Aids established financial accountability to ensure that counties took
responsibility for adjudicated juveniles. The state bills counties for the entire
cost of confining a juvenile in a state institution, though there are certain
exceptions. If a court determines that a juvenile is a serious offender or if a
juvenile is waived to adult court and subsequently serves time in a juvenile
correctional facility, the state pays the costs of placement (Carmichael 2007).
It appears that Youth Aids may have had a positive effect on juvenile crime
and arrests. State statistics indicate that between 1997 and 2006, juvenile
drug offenses declined 52 percent, juvenile property crime declined 46
percent, and person crimes involving juvenile perpetrators decreased 22
percent. From 1996 to 2005, the number of juvenile arrests dropped by 25
percent, even though the juvenile population increased slightly during the
same period (Carmichael 2007).
Although crime and incarceration rates have little effect on one another,
Wisconsin’s juvenile institutional population decreased as well. From 1997
to 2006, the number of incarcerated juveniles in Wisconsin decreased 33
percent (Sickmund, Sladky and Kang 2008). In Milwaukee County, by far the
most populated county in the state, juvenile commitments declined nearly 75
percent between 1995 and 2005 (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006).
Youth Aids has experienced some problems during its 30-year existence,
particularly in terms of funding. For example, in its second year of operation,
counties spent $4.7 million more than what was available through Youth Aids.
This accounted for more than eight percent of the total cost of communitybased youth services, for which counties were responsible. Between 1992
and 1997, expenditures for in-home services increased 54 percent, from $34
million to $52 million, although the number of juveniles receiving in-home
services increased only 1 percent (Stuiber et al. 1999). During that five-year
span, county expenditures increased while state expenditures decreased
each year, suggesting an overall decline in Youth Aids support. In 1992,
Youth Aids funds covered almost 65 percent of the cost of community-based
services. By 1997, Youth Aids covered only 45 percent of the $181 million
cost to counties. As a result, only 18 counties had enough funds to pay for
out-of-home placements, whereas 42 had been able to pay these costs in

21

1992. For their share, counties used property tax revenue and grant money
to supplement Youth Aids funds (Stuiber et al. 1999). Despite freezes in
county allocations and rising costs of services, Youth Aids continues to
provide financial aid for counties to supervise and treat juveniles in their
homes and communities.

OHIO
In the 1970s and 80s, political shifts led to the adoption of punitive policies
in the American criminal and juvenile justice systems. While some states
continued to use indeterminate sentences for youth offenders to account
for the variable length of time each juvenile needed to rehabilitate, Ohio
implemented a determinate sentencing model for juveniles in 1987 (Feld
1990). Each year thereafter, the population of incarcerated juveniles
increased.
Under the sentencing guidelines, juvenile court judges had few options when
rendering dispositions for adjudicated youth. Their discretion was limited to
sending a juvenile delinquent home or incarcerating him or her in a secure
facility; intermediate options were not available, as Ohio counties did not
have community-based supervision or treatment options for juveniles. And
while judges could send violent juvenile offenders to a Department of Youth
Services (DYS) facility, they had little authority over the length of time that
juveniles remained in DYS custody. The law required felony-convicted youth
sent to a DYS facility to stay for at least one year (Moon, Applegate and
Latessa 1997). There was also a financial incentive for county juvenile judges
to render out-of-home placements, because the state paid the cost of DYS
confinement, and counties had no financial responsibility for incarcerating
juveniles (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006).
As a result, by 1991, four of the 20 most overcrowded juvenile facilities
in the nation were in Ohio (Austin et al. 1995), and a DYS administrator
has said that by 1992, the number of juveniles in DYS facilities was nearly
double its intended capacity of 1,400 (National Criminal Justice Association).
To address the overcrowding and reports of violence involving DYS staff
and residents, the state launched Reasoned and Equitable Community and
Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors (RECLAIM Ohio) in 1994.

22

The objectives of RECLAIM were to expand judicial dispositions for juvenile
offenders, reduce the DYS population, alter the financial arrangement
between the state and the counties, and provide counties with resources to
develop community-based programs for at-risk and adjudicated juveniles
(National Criminal Justice Association; Lowenkamp and Latessa 2005a).
RECLAIM allocates state funds to counties to cover the costs of DYS
placement and community-based services. The exact allocation is based
on the county’s average number of juvenile felony adjudications over a
four-year span (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006). If counties reduce
juvenile DYS placements in a given year, they stand to earn more money
the following year. Furthermore, counties must pay 75 percent of the cost
of DYS confinement but only have to pay 50 percent of the cost of placing
youth in a community corrections facility (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006).
Community corrections facilities (CCFs) are distinct from DYS facilities in
that they are locally operated rather than state-controlled. They are usually
more cost-effective and offer more treatment options than DYS facilities
(Lowenkamp et al. 2010).
There are some exceptions to county responsibility for DYS placement. For
juveniles who commit murder or rape, counties are not responsible for the
cost of DYS placement, due to the exceptional level of threat that these
juveniles may pose to the community. Counties also are not responsible for
the cost of placement if a youth commits a serious or violent offense inside a
DYS facility (Moon, Applegate and Latessa 1997).
RECLAIM was piloted in nine counties in 1994. The pilot counties
demonstrated success by developing community-based programs that
enabled them to reduce DYS commitments. An assessment showed that
the pilot counties reduced DYS commitments by 42 percent, while DYS
commitments from non-pilot counties increased 23 percent during the same
time (Moon, Applegate and Latessa 1997). A closer inspection of the data
revealed no changes in the number of serious felony offenders diverted
from DYS facilities before and after implementation of pilot RECLAIM. There
was, however, a significant drop in low-level felony commitments from pilot
counties (Lowenkamp and Latessa 2005a).

23

In 1995, RECLAIM Ohio was launched statewide to include the remaining
79 counties, and served 6,945 juveniles in 1995 (Latessa et al. 1998), with
$71 million in allocations to counties. By August of 2011, state allocations to
counties had increased to $252 million (Ohio Department of Youth Services
2011). RECLAIM funds helped counties develop community-based programs
such as intensive probation, substance abuse treatment, monitoring,
restitution and community service, educational services, and family
preservation programs (Latessa et al. 1998). A majority of county courts
supported these programs, which helped to extend and promote their use.
After RECLAIM went statewide, researchers from the University of Cincinnati
conducted an assessment of the program. They found that 73 percent of
juveniles successfully completed the RECLAIM program, while 21 percent
were deemed unsuccessful, meaning that they were arrested or adjudicated
for a new offense, cited for negative behavior, violated parole, or did
not attend the program. Compared to the pilot study, in the first year of
statewide implementation, successful RECLAIM completions increased 10
percent and unsuccessful terminations decreased seven percent (Latessa et
al. 1998). A later evaluation comparing DYS and community-based RECLAIM
placements indicated that DYS placement could detrimentally affect low-risk
youth, and that RECLAIM placement had negligible effects on high-risk youth,
who might be more effectively served in DYS custody (Lowenkamp and
Latessa 2005a).
Although the nationwide crime drop certainly had an impact, RECLAIM Ohio
has helped reduce the DYS population and improve DYS functioning. Between
2000 and 2009, the number of juveniles adjudicated for a felony offense
declined 32 percent. With one exception, the DYS population decreased every
year during that span. In 2009, there were 130,000 juvenile admissions to
more than 650 RECLAIM programs. DYS facilities held 1,228 juveniles in
2009 (compared to 2,453 in 2001), and community corrections facilities held
541 juveniles (Ohio Department of Youth Services). As of March 2011, the
population in DYS facilities had dropped to 736. Four DYS facilities had been
shut down and 300 DYS staff positions had been cut since 2009 (Johnson
2011). The decline in the DYS population indicates that RECLAIM Ohio has
achieved its central objective.
It also appears to have achieved its other objectives, as well. Not only do
judges have alternative sentencing options to incarceration because counties

24

RECLAIM Ohio has become a model for
incentive-based, juvenile justice reinvestment
reforms, but only time will tell if it can
withstand future increases in juvenile crime.
have received resources to develop community-based programming, but Ohio
has realized significant savings from RECLAIM. It costs the state $123,370
to keep one juvenile in a DYS facility for a year. Placing a juvenile in a
community-based RECLAIM program costs $8,539 annually (Lowenkamp and
Latessa 2005b). For every dollar spent on RECLAIM, the state saves between
$11 and $45 on the cost of juvenile confinement, depending on the juvenile’s
risk level (Lowenkamp and Latessa 2005b).
In addition to the impact of RECLAIM on the DYS population and the state
budget, the program has renewed the rehabilitative philosophy of juvenile
justice in Ohio. County judges now have various options, so that many
low-risk juveniles are supervised and treated in their communities. This
allows families to participate in the treatment process and enables their
access to educational and vocational resources in the community.
RECLAIM contains elements that appease policymakers of various political
perspectives. Judges can connect juvenile delinquents with rehabilitative
resources but still have discretion to place violent and repeat offenders in
DYS facilities at no cost to counties (Moon, Applegate and Latessa 1997).
RECLAIM Ohio has become a model for incentive-based, juvenile justice
reinvestment reforms, but only time will tell if it can withstand future
increases in juvenile crime.

CALIFORNIA (SLIDING SCALE)
California’s Probation Subsidy Act of 1965 provided the blueprint for financial
reform in the state’s juvenile justice system. Discontinued in 1978, it was
replaced by the County Justice System Subvention Program, which gave
counties grant money to fund community-based programs. Because the
costs of programming continued to increase while grant allocations remained
unchanged, however, counties gradually abandoned community-based

25

programs (Nieto 1996). It had become more cost-effective for counties
to place juvenile offenders in facilities run by the Department of Juvenile
Facilities (DJF) than in community programs, because it cost only $25 each
month per juvenile for DJF placement. The state was accountable for the
remaining costs (Krisberg et al. 2010). [Note: The California Youth Authority
(CYA) became the Department of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) in 2005. The newer
acronym is sometimes used in this report even when referring to events prior
to 2005.]
As a result, the DJF institutional population increased drastically through the
late 1980s and early 1990s, until it peaked at 10,122 in 1996; overcrowding
became a significant issue (Lerner 1986). Meanwhile, the costs to the state
for youth incarceration had continued to rise. Reports of institutional abuse
appeared in the media. Advocates urged reform. In response to mounting
criticism, California passed Senate Bill 681 in 1996.
Senate Bill 681 created a “sliding scale” fee that required counties to pay for
DJF placements based on the severity of each juvenile’s offense (Dawood
2009). Juveniles sent to the DJF were assigned a number from one to seven.
“One” represented the most serious offender, and “seven” represented the
least serious offender. Counties were responsible for 100 percent ($2,600
per month) of the cost of placing a category seven juvenile in a DJF facility,
75 percent ($1,950 per month) of the costs for incarcerating a category six
juvenile, and 50 percent ($1,300) of the cost for incarcerating a category five
juvenile. For juveniles in categories one through four, counties paid a flat fee
of $150 per month (Legislative Analyst’s Office 1997; Legislative Analyst’s
Office 2000).
After the sliding scale was introduced, DJF population decreased each year
after 1996 (Dawood 2009). In 2010, the juvenile institutional population in
California had decreased to 1,118 (Juvenile Research Branch 2010), an 89
percent drop from the 1996 level.
The reforms have not been entirely successful, however. Although DJF
population decreased each year after the sliding scale fee was implemented,
the cost of incarceration grew steadily from 1996 to 2003. The DJF budget
escalated further from 2003 to 2007, because of a consent decree requiring
DJF facilities to hire additional medical, mental health, and educational staff

26

(Krisberg et al. 2010). The high price of staff salaries drove the cost of one
DJF placement to $225,000 per year, and because state rules made it difficult
to trim the DJF workforce, the costs are expected to continue rising (Ferriss
2010). In 2008, California spent $200 million more to incarcerate juvenile
offenders than it did in 1996, when the institutional youth population was five
times larger (Little Hoover Commission 2008).
Furthermore, the Division of Juvenile Justice, which oversees the Department
of Juvenile Facilities, has been criticized for dismal conditions inside its
juvenile institutions and a lack of rehabilitative success. There have been
allegations of abuse and violence, and evaluations of state facilities indicated
that some juveniles were locked in their cells for 23 hours a day (Office of the
Inspector General 2000). Juveniles released from DJF confinement in fiscal
year 2004-05 had an 81 percent re-arrest rate and more than 56 percent
were re-incarcerated within three years of release (California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation 2010).
California’s finances seem likely to force even more reforms. The state
currently spends more than $9 billion annually on corrections and
rehabilitation (Brown 2011), of which nearly $1 billion is allocated to juvenile
justice. Approximately half of that $1 billion is spent on incarcerating a small
number of juvenile offenders, while the other half is spent on communitybased programs for nearly 100,000 juveniles (Little Hoover Commission
2008). As state officials grapple with a budget deficit of $16 billion (Smith
2012), the state has begun to explore legislation that would decentralize
its juvenile justice system and allow counties to develop and manage
community-based supervision and treatment programs that keep juveniles
out of state facilities. In addition, the District Attorneys Association has
threatened to start filing all juvenile petitions in adult court, to avoid having
to shoulder the cost of providing services to youth in the juvenile justice
system.

NORTH CAROLINA
As of the late 1990s, the functions of juvenile justice in North Carolina
were divided between two state departments. The Division of Youth
Services managed juvenile facilities and community-based programs, while

27

the Juvenile Services Division handled intake, probation, and aftercare.
Separation made it difficult for the departments to share records, collaborate
on individual juvenile interventions, and provide continuity of services. The
dual system also proved to be inefficient cost-wise. In 1997, the Governor’s
Commission on Juvenile Justice and Crime conducted an evaluation of the
juvenile justice system, and its findings provided the impetus for reform.
In 1998, the General Assembly passed the Juvenile Justice Reform Act,
based on recommendations from the Governor’s Commission report. The
Reform Act established the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention (DJJDP) to manage the duties of the two former departments.
The governor oversees the DJJDP, which is tasked with developing juvenile
prevention and rehabilitation services, creating a match-based funding
formula for counties that utilize such services, and reporting annually to the
General Assembly about the effectiveness and cost-benefit of each program
(Mason 1999).
To be eligible for state funding, counties must appoint a Juvenile Crime
Prevention Council (JCPC) to manage local juvenile justice operations.
JCPCs consist of 25 members that (ideally) reflect the ethnic and economic
composition of the community and include government and criminal justice
personnel, counselors, health providers, and concerned members of the
community. JCPCs are responsible for assessing juvenile needs, providing
treatment to meet their needs, evaluating treatment programs, submitting
annual proposals, and securing program funding (Mason 1999). JCPCs also
encourage community members to participate in monthly meetings to discuss
methods for reducing and preventing juvenile crime.
In addition, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act created a mechanism for costsharing between the state and participating counties. To receive state funds,
JCPCs are required to submit a proposal to the DJJDP that specifies programs
the county intends to fund, as well as the risk and protective factors that
the programs address. The DJJDP then calculates an amount to be allocated
to each approved county in the following fiscal year. Counties are required
to match a certain percentage of DJJDP funds, typically between 10 percent
and 30 percent (Durham County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council 2011).
Currently, all 100 counties in North Carolina participate and receive funding
from DJJDP. The DJJDP allocated more than $23 million annually to subsidize

28

community-based youth programming throughout the state in 2008-2009
(North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
2009).
The partnership between the DJJDP and JCPCs has stimulated North Carolina
counties to create a range of interventions, including mentoring, skill
building, restitution, mediation, day services, clinical assessment, community
service, and home-based counseling. An intake counselor makes the initial
determination regarding diversion. If a court-referred juvenile is a violent or
repeat offender, diversion is not an option. If the intake counselor diverts a
juvenile, he or she must refer the youth to appropriate programs available in
that jurisdiction. The intake officer then monitors the juvenile for six months,
and if the juvenile and his or her parents/guardians comply with the diversion
plan, the intake officer may close his or her file (Mason 1999). In fiscal year
2009-2010, JCPC community-based programs served 30,393 juveniles (North
Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 2011).
In addition to funding community-based programs, the DJJDP manages
nine youth detention centers, and seven juvenile facilities known as Youth
Development Centers (YDC). The purpose of YDC facilities is to prepare
juveniles to re-enter the community through treatment, education, and
mentoring services. Juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 15 are
eligible for placement in a YDC, while offenders age 16 and up are legally
considered adults in North Carolina. Under the Reform Act, judges can only
send juveniles who commit a serious or violent offense or those who are
chronic offenders to a YDC facility (North Carolina Department of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention).
Since passage of the Reform Act, juvenile delinquency rates and youth
incarceration have dropped to ten-year lows. In 1998, there were 1,360
juveniles in YDC facilities; five years later, the YDC population had declined
65 percent (North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention 2010), and there were only 357 juveniles in YDC facilities as
of 2010 (North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention 2011).
Shortly after a 2005 state audit revealed unsafe environments and
punishment-focused facilities, North Carolina closed several of its rundown

29

YDC facilities and replaced them with five treatment-based facilities. The
new facilities are much smaller (one has 96 beds, the other four have 32
beds), dispersed geographically across the state, and offer therapeutic
and community-oriented environments that encourage education and
rehabilitation. Compared to juveniles released from standard care facilities,
there was a 73 percent decrease in the re-arrest of juveniles released
from the new facilities, and a 560 percent increase in juveniles who sought
education beyond high school following their release from the treatmentbased facilities (National Juvenile Justice Network 2008).
Despite the decline in the YDC population, however, budget savings have
not materialized. The DJJDP spent more than $44 million on YDC facilities in
fiscal year 2009-10, which represents the highest-ever DJJDP appropriation
and 29 percent of the total DJJDP budget (North Carolina Department of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 2011). This is important because
the more funds that the DJJDP spends on YDC facilities, the less money there
is available for education and treatment services, community programs, and
Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils.
The Juvenile Justice Reform Act undoubtedly increased local alternatives to
incarceration, but budget deficits threaten future developments. The state
recently cut $28 million from the DJJDP budget. In fiscal year 2010-2011,
the DJJDP’s approximate budget was $146 million, which was more than 16
percent less than its 2009 budget (North Carolina Department of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention 2011). The cuts have made it difficult for
the DJJDP to expand juvenile rehabilitation programs, but the department
continues to fund evidence-based programming for adjudicated and at-risk
juveniles.
In December of 2010, Governor Perdue proposed merging the Department
of Correction, the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, and
the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP)
into a new “Department of Public Safety” (Christensen 2011). Critics were
concerned that this change could shift the focus of juvenile justice away from
rehabilitation to sanctions and warehousing youth.

30

DESCHUTES COUNTY, OREGON
In the 1970s, Oregon’s correctional population and the costs of incarceration
were steadily rising. To address these problems, Oregon enacted the
Community Corrections Act (CCA) in 1977. The CCA allocated state funds
to counties to fund existing county programs and develop additional
community-based alternatives to incarceration. The CCA gave counties the
option to manage the programs and services for offenders under parole and
probation supervision (Criminal Justice Commission 2010).
The transformation from state to local justice systems instigated further
reform initiatives in Oregon, including Deschutes County’s decision
to organize its juvenile justice system around “community justice.”
Community justice is based on citizen and government collaboration,
offender accountability, restoration of the harm resulting from crime, and
strengthening community wellbeing (Martin 2002). Instead of spending
money on prison beds and new prisons, community justice officials fund
education and local rehabilitation services, so that juveniles can remain close
to their families and connected with their communities.
In 1997, the Oregon state legislature passed House Bill 3737 to further
the goals of community youth justice. Known as the Community Youth
Investment Project (CYIP), the legislation applied only to Deschutes County
for a six-year pilot period. [Note: The CYIP expired in 2003, and Deschutes
County did not continue the program.]
The CYIP gave the county financial responsibility for handling adjudicated
juveniles, and created incentives to reduce the use of juvenile incarceration.
The county was obligated to cover the entire cost of out-of-home placements,
but for each juvenile diverted from the system, the state paid the county up
to 100 percent of the annual costs of placement, or approximately $48,000
per juvenile (Maloney and Holcomb 2001).
Deschutes County allocated about 70 percent of state reimbursements
to juvenile treatment programs and reinvested the remaining funds in
prevention programs, including early intervention, parent training, home
visits, academic tutoring, and after-school activities (Maloney and Holcomb
2001). To participate, a juvenile had to be referred to the legal system;
after this, the juvenile, his or her family, and state and county service

31

providers met to decide on an intervention plan. The committee was to
forward a recommendation to the district attorney, who could accept the
recommendation or offer the juvenile court judge a revised referral. The
judge had the final determination on the course of diversion.
Juveniles admitted to the diversion program spent four months in a secure
residential facility, where staff continually assessed them and provided them
with academic and interpersonal support. Following their release, juveniles
were placed in intensive aftercare, which included work services, competency
development, tutoring, home visits, or after-school programs (Maloney and
Holcomb 2001). The diversion process ensured that adjudicated juveniles
were evaluated and given appropriate services to promote rehabilitation.
From 1997 to 2001, Deschutes County received $1.7 million in state money
to fund the CYIP. A portion was used to house juveniles in local detention
facilities, and the remaining funds were reinvested in community-based
intervention and prevention services. The reinvestments allowed for a
rapid expansion of community-based services, and within two years of
the enactment of the CYIP, Deschutes County had reduced its institutional
youth population by 72 percent (Martin 2002). The amount of state funding
Deschutes County received decreased from 2001 until 2003, when the CYIP
expired.
The CYIP also appeared to improve the success rate of juveniles who
participated in diversion programs. Although the number of juveniles served
through CYIP from 1998 to early 2001 was small, 82 percent successfully
completed the program. Of those, 49 percent were on pace to graduate
high school and another 20 percent completed their GED while enrolled in
the program (Maloney and Holcomb 2001). One year after completing the
program, nearly two-thirds of juveniles had no new criminal referrals.
External evaluations showed less promising results. One assessment of
the CYIP found that although the programs were more cost-effective than
placement in a state institution, the recidivism rate for juveniles who
successfully completed the program was higher (67 percent) than for
juveniles released from state commitment (58 percent). However, due to
the small sample and because the comparison groups were not matched in
any way, the findings lacked reliability and generalizability (Hannay 2004).

32

Recent evaluations show that over the past decade, delinquent referrals
decreased 13 percent, and the county’s juvenile recidivism rate decreased
nine percent (Deschutes County 2010), even as the county population grew
significantly. Since juvenile crime has also dropped nationwide, however, it is
unclear if the CYIP is responsible for these results. Furthermore, because the
CYIP’s treatment programs only resemble evidence-based models and are
not based on them (Hannay 2004), it is difficult for evaluators to compare
the effectiveness of Deschutes County programs with proven prevention
programs.
Deschutes County’s growing population strained county resources and halted
the expansion of CYIP in Deschutes County (Martin 2002); funding problems
also hindered its expansion into other Oregon counties. Despite these
obstacles, Deschutes County’s CYIP reduced the county’s juvenile justice
expenditures and the time that juveniles spent in state facilities, allowing
the county to reinvest savings on state incarceration in community-based
intervention and prevention programs.

ILLINOIS
Before its experiment in reform, the Illinois juvenile justice system faced
circumstances similar to those in Ohio prior to the initiation of RECLAIM
Ohio. There were financial incentives for counties to incarcerate juveniles
because the state, not counties, was responsible for the costs. Illinois
counties had few community-based alternatives available and lacked the
necessary resources to develop such programming, so judges repeatedly
placed adjudicated juveniles in secure facilities maintained by the Illinois
Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).
Each year from 2000 to 2004, nearly 1,800 juveniles were incarcerated at
an annual cost of more than $70,000 per juvenile, for a total of over $100
million (Illinois Department of Human Services 2008a).
Young people were regularly incarcerated in IDJJ facilities regardless of
their offense throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2004, for example,
one-third of youth committed to the IDJJ were sent for a court-ordered
mental health evaluation, and nearly half were sent for a property offense

33

The primary objective of Redeploy Illinois
was to diminish state costs by reducing IDJJ
commitments and to reinvest the money saved in
community-based alternatives.

(Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006), while fewer than 20 percent were
incarcerated for a serious or violent offense. As a result, the three-year
juvenile recidivism rate remained around 50 percent from the early 1990s
through 2005 (Illinois Department of Human Services 2008b; Illinois
Department of Human Services 2010). The negative effects and high costs of
incarceration led state policymakers to pursue a more responsible and costeffective way of handling juvenile delinquents.
In 2004, the Illinois General Assembly passed Redeploy Illinois, modeled
on RECLAIM Ohio, to serve youth offenders ages 13 to 18. The primary
objective of Redeploy Illinois was to diminish state costs by reducing
IDJJ commitments and to reinvest the money saved in community-based
alternatives. Redeploy also aimed to ensure community safety, offender
accountability, treatment in the least restrictive environment, and juvenile
skills training that facilitated responsible development. Local communities
were encouraged to contribute to the legislative decision-making and the
transition from state placement to community-based treatment (Tyler,
Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006).
To participate in Redeploy, counties had to submit a budget and proposed
plan of services to the State Department of Human Services, which could
accept or reject the county’s proposal. Within the first year of participation,
counties had to agree to reduce their IDJJ commitments by 25 percent of the
average of the previous three years, excluding the small number of offenders
who commit violent felonies (Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006). Redeploy
required the state to reimburse participating counties that successfully
managed juvenile offenders in their communities in lieu of incarceration.
Counties were given the autonomy to develop their own unique programs to
promote rehabilitation; in the event that a county exceeded the number of
allowable commitments to IDJJ facilities, it would be required to compensate
the IDJJ $4,000 per commitment, and $2,000 per court evaluation (Illinois
Department of Human Services 2008a).

34

In January 2005, four sites participated in the pilot phase of Redeploy: Macon
County, Peoria County, St. Clair County, and the 2nd Judicial Circuit. During
the first year of operation, Illinois budgeted $2 million for Redeploy pilot sites
(Tyler, Ziedenberg and Lotke 2006), which the sites used to develop a variety
of community-based programs, including -- but not limited to -- assessment
screening, Aggression Replacement Training, Functional Family Therapy,
cognitive education and treatment, life skills training, substance abuse and
mental health treatment, home detention, psychological evaluations, and
community service programs (Illinois Department of Human Services 2007).
The funding for Redeploy has fluctuated since its founding. The initial $2
million investment dropped to $1.5 million in 2006, then rose to $2.3
million in fiscal year 2007 (New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group
2010). In 2008, the Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board (RIOB) recruited five
more jurisdictions to participate in the program -- Kankakee County, Lee
County, McLean County, Madison County, and the 4th Judicial Circuit (Illinois
Department of Human Services 2010) -- but the Board was only able to offer
sites a total of $3.2 million in 2009 (New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory
Group 2010).
The cost of serving one juvenile through Redeploy programs initially ranged
from $4,000 and $6,000 per year (Juvenile Justice Initiative 2006), and
currently ranges from $3,000 to $10,000 per juvenile (Illinois Department of
Human Services 2010) – far less than the $70,000 it costs to place a youth in
an IDJJ facility. After three years of operation, Redeploy diverted 382 youth
from IDJJ placement, and the state saved an estimated $18.7 million (Illinois
Department of Human Services 2008b).
The RIOB conducted a three-year assessment of Redeploy sites in 2008.
The assessment analyzed county data, self-assessments, case studies, and
program accomplishments. RIOB staff met with stakeholders, including legal
professionals, probation personnel, service providers, participating juveniles
and parents of juveniles involved in the program (Illinois Department of
Human Services 2008b). The RIOB subsequently recommended that the
state expand the use of psychological evaluations, develop methods for
assessing program outcomes, and recruit additional stakeholders (e.g.,
school officials, members of the faith community) to participate in Redeploy.

35

Not all counties have been successful. Although a majority of the
participating counties have reduced their IDJJ commitments by at least
25 percent, not all did. Cook County, the most populous county in the
state, began receiving Redeploy funding in December 2007, and adopted a
Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care Program as its primary intervention,
because it had been shown to be effective in Oregon. But Cook County had
to suspend its participation in Redeploy due to out-of-state staff training
requirements, a low number of referrals, and an inability to reduce IDJJ
commitments (Illinois Department of Human Services 2008b). In part
because of the difficulties faced by Cook County, the RIOB established
planning grants of up to $10,000 to offer counties the opportunity to explore
Redeploy before committing to it (Illinois Department of Human Services
2008b).
Illinois counties depend on consistent state funding to develop and maintain
community-based alternatives. For example, Kankakee County was awarded
a $208,000 Redeploy Illinois grant in 2009, but ultimately received only
$87,000, which was not enough to cover the cost of its juvenile services
(Kankakee County Board 2010). In 2010, therefore, Kankakee County
terminated its participation in Redeploy.
Redeploy continues to expand, reduce juvenile incarceration, and reallocate
savings toward community-based youth programming. In 2009, the
Governor signed Public Act 95-1050, authorizing every county in the state to
participate in Redeploy Illinois at their discretion (Redeploy Illinois 2010). As
of 2011, Redeploy has served 27 of 102 Illinois counties and diverted almost
800 juveniles from IDJJ placement (Illinois Government News Network
2011). The State is even considering expanding Redeploy beyond juvenile
justice. In 2009, the state passed the Crime Reduction Act, which offers
financial incentives to counties that shift their non-violent adult offenders
from prisons to diversionary and community-based programs (Adult Redeploy
Illinois Oversight Board 2010).

FLORIDA
Florida has consistently had one of the highest populations of incarcerated
juveniles in the nation. In 2006, Florida had the third-highest number

36

of juveniles in state custody, with more than 6,000 total commitments
(Sickmund, Sladky and Kang 2008) – most of them for misdemeanor or
non-criminal offenses, like curfew violation and truancy. Because of the high
cost and rates of recidivism associated with residential commitment, the
Florida Legislature and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) launched the
Redirection program in 2004.
Redirection’s goals are to divert low-level juvenile offenders from residential
placement and reduce juvenile justice expenditures by offering juvenile
courts community-based treatment options for teens who commit minor
offenses. Primary funding for the program comes from state and taxpayer
funds, but some private organizations (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
and federal agencies (federal stimulus grant, Perkins grant) contribute
supplemental funds, and state businesses like Workforce Florida offer grants
to help with job placement (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 2010).
Florida Redirection consists of two evidence-based treatment options: Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT). The Florida
Legislature and Department of Juvenile Justice selected these programs
because the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
(OJJDP) identified both as effective in reducing recidivism for violent
offenders (Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability
2010). MST and FFT are intensive treatments provided in the homes of
juveniles and are geared toward families who are reluctant to participate.
Florida initially piloted Redirection in three counties and limited participation
to minor probation violators. By 2006, the program accepted all non-violent
juvenile offenders, and more counties have adopted Redirection every year
since its inception. As of 2008, Redirection operated in 41 of 67 Florida
counties (Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability
2010).
The drop in crime rates had some influence, but Redirection appears to have
been successful: it reduced the number of youth incarcerated, saved the
state money, and improved juvenile rehabilitation. In fiscal year 2008-2009,
the DJJ admitted 6,587 juveniles to residential programs, 28 percent fewer
juveniles than it admitted in 2003-2004 (Florida Department of Juvenile
Justice 2011). Florida has since reduced its residential bed space to 4,146

37

juvenile beds as of 2011 to further condense the youth residential population.
The state currently utilizes approximately 90 percent of its operational bed
space (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 2011).
Redirection is also cost-effective. From its inception through the end of
2009, Redirection programs cost just under $30 million. If the state had
placed all the juveniles served through Redirection in residential facilities
instead, the cost to the state -- based on the average length of stay -- would
have been $81 million. By 2010, therefore, Redirection had generated more
than $51 million in savings (Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government
Accountability 2010).
Furthermore, evaluations indicate that many juveniles are better served
through Redirection than residential placement. By the end of 2009,
Redirection served 3,956 juveniles, and 2,821 (71 percent) successfully
completed it; those who completed it were less likely to be arrested,
especially for a violent felony. Program data indicate that those who complete
Redirection are nine percent less likely to be arrested for a criminal offense
than juveniles released from a residential facility. What’s more, high-risk
youth who complete Redirection programs are 31 percent less likely to be
rearrested than high-risk juveniles released from a residential facility (Office
of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability 2010).
Though the results show promise, Redirection will need to be evaluated more
thoroughly. In addition to recidivism, future evaluations should consider
success rates such as school attendance and performance, length of time in
employment, and involvement in pro-social activities.
Nevertheless, Redirection has provided rehabilitation options for juveniles
and saved the state millions. Due to its success, the Florida DJJ is considering
expanding the program to include more serious offenders. It also plans
to expand Redirection statewide, but recent budget cuts could make this
difficult. In 2010, the state cut $16 million from the DJJ budget. Florida
spends $11.5 million on Redirection programs and $242 million to operate
juvenile facilities, but it is unknown how the budget cuts will impact
Redirection, though the DJJ secretary hopes to expand the program (Connor
2010).

38

Rather than expend additional resources to
construct new prisons and new prison beds, the
Texas legislature opted to reinvest a portion
of the funds proposed for construction in
alternative strategies.
TEXAS
As violent youth crime escalated in Texas in the 1980s, more and more
youth were committed to state juvenile facilities run by the Texas Youth
Commission (TYC). From 1988 to 1992, there was a 161 percent increase in
violent juvenile referrals, and a 285 percent increase in juveniles committed
for a violent offense (Texas Youth Commission 2010a); meanwhile, the
population of juveniles in TYC custody continued to grow, before peaking
at 5,646 in 2000 (Levin 2010a). Between 2000 and 2007, more than 2,000
youth were sent to TYC facilities every year (Texas Youth Commission
2010b), of whom half were non-violent offenders (Levin 2010b).
The cost of placing juveniles in TYC facilities has continued to grow. In 2008,
at a daily rate of $270.49 per juvenile, it cost nearly $100,000 annually to
incarcerate one juvenile (Legislative Budget Board 2009). Two years later,
the daily cost to incarcerate one youth increased to $359.58, equating to an
annual cost of $131,246 per commitment (Legislative Budget Board 2011a).
In spite of their widespread use, the TYC facilities rarely provided juvenile
wards with the services they needed to rehabilitate, and youth were often
unsuccessful after release. Nearly 57 percent of juveniles released from
TYC facilities in 2007 were rearrested within one year, and 49 percent were
re-incarcerated within three years (Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and
Texas Youth Commission 2007). On top of that, media investigations and
parental complaints revealed incidents of youth abuse inside TYC facilities.
Saddled with rising incarceration costs, high recidivism rates, and bad
publicity, the legislature was faced with a choice in 2007, when Texas officials
estimated that the state would need to spend $2 billion over the next five
years to construct new facilities and beds to meet a projected increase in
the youth and adult offender population (Right on Crime 2010). Rather
than expend resources to construct new prisons and new prison beds,

39

the Texas legislature opted to reinvest a portion of the funds proposed for
construction in alternative strategies. That year, Texas committed $241
million to strengthen existing drug and mental health treatment programs for
incarcerated youth and adults and persons released from confinement.
The state saw positive results over the next two years. By halting the
construction of new prisons, the reinvestment generated budget savings
of $444 million in the following fiscal year (Council of State Governments
Justice Center 2007). Crime decreased statewide and the number of parole
and probation violations declined. Predictions about the rate at which the
state prison population would increase were revised downward significantly;
current forecasts now predict it will grow at 10 percent of the rate estimated
in 2007 (Council of State Governments Justice Center 2009).
In 2009, the TJPC introduced the Commitment Reduction Program, which
seeks to fund community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and
encourage counties to reduce their TYC placements. In order to participate
in the program, county probation departments propose goals for reducing
TYC placements, and objectives for achieving those goals. Each county is
expected to meet reduction targets set by the state, which are tied to a
statewide cap of 1,783 total commitments (Levin 2010b).
Counties approved for the Commitment Reduction Program receive additional
grant money from the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) to fund
community-based youth programming. County proposals for supervision
and rehabilitation programming must be evidence-based and must have
demonstrated prior success in other communities. Participating jurisdictions
are subject to periodic state monitoring and must submit continual progress
and financial accountability reports to the TJPC. If a county commits more
juveniles to TYC than allowed by its cap, it risks losing TJPC funding the
following year. For every commitment over the statewide cap, the TJPC is
required to pay the TYC $51,100 per year (Eighty-first Legislature 2009).
Since the Commitment Reduction Program started, the state has saved more
than $200 million in taxpayer costs, and commitments to the TYC have also
declined. In 2007, the TYC housed more than 5,000 juveniles and had 4,290
staff positions; there are now 1,620 juveniles in TYC facilities and 3,405
staff positions. Commitments to TYC facilities dropped another 40 percent

40

in 2010, due in large part to the Commitment Reduction Program (Levin
2010a). Because further reductions are expected in the near future, Texas
plans to close three of its ten TYC facilities by 2013 (Mitchell 2011). As a
result, the state legislature was able to cut TYC funding by more than $100
million between 2008 and 2010. A portion of these savings was reinvested in
local probation and community-based programs to keep juveniles out of TYC
facilities (Levin 2010b).
Even before the creation of the Commitment Reduction Program, the
legislature had already begun to invest in alternatives to confinement.
From 2006 to 2010, the state gave more than $100 million to juvenile
probation departments to fund new programs and improve existing
programming. Because counties are responsible for 65 percent of the cost of
juvenile probation and the state funds 34 percent (the federal government
covers the remaining one percent), additional financial support has been
beneficial (Levin 2010b). Counties across Texas have developed a variety
of programming options to address the needs of at-risk and adjudicated
youth. Examples of community-based programs include anger management,
cognitive behavioral therapy, victim restitution programs, drug and mental
health treatment, youth mentoring, life skills training, vocational and
educational programs, community service, electronic monitoring, and
ongoing evaluations of program impact (Levin 2010b).
To reform its juvenile justice system and reduce budget expenditures, then,
Texas reinvested in alternative-to-incarceration programs. In addition to
redirecting monies that could have gone to building more prison beds, the
state offered counties financial incentives and encouraged the development
of community-based programs for at-risk
juveniles through its Commitment Reduction
Program. Of course, continued state and
county budget cuts may make it difficult
for local jurisdictions to supervise and treat
at-risk juveniles over the long term (Mitchell
2011). To date, however, Texas policymakers
have strongly supported financial reform
and juvenile rehabilitation despite financial
difficulties.

41

REALIGNMENT MODELS |
Realignment shifts responsibility for managing young offenders from states
to the counties. Realignment strategies are based on the premises that local
communities are in the best position to provide extensive and cost-effective
supervision and treatment services for juvenile offenders, and that youth
are more successful when supervised and treated closer to their homes and
families.
Effective realignment depends on cooperation and communication between
state and county agencies. Counties that assume responsibility for juvenile
justice need financial support and adequate time to develop communitybased alternatives to state placement. California counties experienced many
problems during Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2007 realignment transition
because they had minimal time to develop community-based supervision
and treatment programs before the state removed institutional placement
options (Dawood 2009). Realigned counties also lacked assistance and state
oversight, which are necessary to ensure that counties have support and are
held financially accountable.
Successful realignment strategies often
include components of resolution and
reinvestment. As long as state facilities
remain open, counties will use them as
placements for serious youth offenders.
Closing state facilities leaves counties
with no other option but to assume
responsibility for all youth offenders.
Whether counties develop communitybased alternatives or build local
facilities to house youth placements,
resolution inevitably localizes juvenile
justice. Reinvestment strategies in the
form of financial incentives can also be
a tool to achieve realignment. If the
state rewards counties for developing
community-based supervision and
treatment options that enable juveniles

42

to receive rehabilitation close to home, counties will be more prepared to
assume complete responsibility for adjudicated juveniles.
Realignment may be the most effective strategy for juvenile justice reform,
because it withstands fluctuations in youth crime. This is partly because
it takes more political effort and financial resources to reverse than do
resolution or reinvestment strategies. As a result, in a realigned system,
any increases in crime are less likely to result in higher incarceration rates,
and counties are obligated to continue to handle juveniles using the most
rehabilitative and cost-effective means available – i.e., locally.

WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN
While significant budget deficits have forced many state governments around
the country to seriously consider realigning their juvenile justice systems
in recent years, realignment is not new – and not limited to state-level
policymaking. Beginning in 1996, Wayne County, Michigan began the process
of transforming its juvenile justice system from one that was state-controlled
and focused on incarceration, to a local, self-sustained system based on
rehabilitation.
Wayne County has the highest juvenile population in Michigan. Although it
does not have the highest per capita crime rate, the overall amount of adult
and juvenile crime in Wayne County is greater than any other Michigan
county, and has been for more than a decade. In 2005, Wayne was home to
22 percent of the state’s juvenile population, but accounted for 27 percent of
all juvenile arrests (Elam et al. 2008).
In Wayne County in the 1990s, the average daily juvenile population in public
secure facilities was 700; the county placed more than 1,000 juveniles in
private facilities and sent approximately 200 juveniles to out-of-state facilities
throughout the 1990s (Wayne County Children & Family Services 2010b).
Lacking intermediate options for juvenile offenders, county judges placed
many of them in state facilities. More than half of all Michigan youth sent
to out-of-home placements came from Wayne County, and a majority were
sent for minor or non-criminal offenses. A study conducted during this time
indicated that two-thirds of Wayne County juveniles sent to a state facility
were committed for a technical violation of a court-ordered condition (Wayne
County Children & Family Services 2010a). By the late 1990s, incarceration
was the conventional outcome for juvenile delinquents.

43

In 1999, the State Auditor General audited
Wayne County’s juvenile division, and found
that it was not in compliance with federal
requirements.

The primary juvenile facility

in the county was over capacity and facility
conditions did not meet federal standards.

This practice was expensive. On the one hand, although every other county
in Michigan was required to pay the state at least half the cost of juvenile
confinement, a legislative agreement enabled Wayne County to pay a much
smaller percentage of juvenile confinement (Allen-Meares and Garvin 2000).
Unsurprisingly, then, through 1999, Wayne County sent more juveniles to
state facilities than every other Michigan county. Nevertheless, although
Wayne County had less financial accountability for juvenile confinement than
other Michigan counties, it spent approximately $150 million annually over 20
years to incarcerate juvenile offenders – and during this period, the costs of
residential care more than doubled (Latona, Smith and Chaney 2006).
Nor were conditions inside state juvenile facilities conducive to rehabilitation.
Many juveniles slept on floors while waiting for a bed to open up (Kresnak
2002). One facility showed signs of structural deterioration and ruptured
plumbing. Staff were overworked and exhausted, which led to inadequate
management of youth wards. Facility managers gauged juvenile progress by
their compliance with the rules, rather than by assessing the behavioral and
emotional changes that would indicate rehabilitation (Wayne County Children
& Family Services 2010b).
The director of what was then known as the Michigan Department of Social
Services, set the stage for structural reform. In 1996, he offered grant
money to counties willing to take responsibility for juvenile delinquents
(Kresnak 2002). Wayne was the only county to sign an agreement and
transfer responsibility from the state for managing its adjudicated juveniles.
But the county was apparently unready to handle these youth effectively.
In 1999, the State Auditor General audited Wayne County’s juvenile
division, and found that it was not in compliance with federal requirements.

44

The primary juvenile facility in the county was over capacity and facility
conditions did not meet federal standards. If Wayne County did not address
these problems, it faced a federal takeover of its juvenile justice services
(Latona, Smith and Chaney 2006). There were additional concerns, because
county judges sent some juveniles to out-of-state facilities, and two-thirds
of incarcerated juveniles returned to the system within six months of their
release. Out-of-home placements were failing to help adjudicated juveniles
finish school, secure a job, or maintain responsible lives. These concerns
compelled Wayne County to implement reforms.
Wayne County reformed its juvenile justice system through a series of steps.
With its juvenile intake and detention centers in jeopardy of being shut down
due to overcrowding, the county agreed to a compromise in which a portion
of detained juveniles would be kept in home detention by means of electronic
monitoring (Latona, Smith and Chaney 2006). To further relieve detention
overcrowding, local officials reduced the delays between arrest and pre-trial
hearings to a maximum of five days. This alteration promptly decreased the
youth detention population by 35 percent and eliminated the threat of federal
takeover (Latona, Smith and Chaney 2006).
Second, the county restructured its financial accountability to the state to
give it fiscal incentives for using community-based programs instead of
secure placement and by making Wayne County accountable for half the cost
of any youth confined by the state (Wayne County Children & Family Services
2010b).
The Juvenile Services Division in Wayne County oversaw the realignment.
During the realignment – which Wayne County dubbed its “human
investment system” – the county privatized its juvenile justice system by
establishing the Juvenile Assessment Center/Care Management Organization
(JAC/CMO). The county contracted with the JAC/CMO, which is a collaboration
of substance abuse and mental health providers and juvenile justice
personnel, to provide supervision and services for juvenile offenders (Wayne
County Children & Family Services 2010b). Among other benefits, the JAC/
CMO system created a new stream of funding. Federal guidelines prohibit the
state and counties from using Medicaid funds for juvenile confinement, but
Medicaid can be spent toward supervision and treatment through private or
non-profit providers. The revised system generated significant savings for
taxpayers (Kresnak 2002).

45

The Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) became — and remains — the entry
point for juvenile diversions. The JAC is an independent, non-profit agency
responsible for youth assessments at entry and throughout the duration of
a young person’s involvement in the program. After the initial assessment,
the JAC refers each juvenile to one of five Care Management Organizations
(CMOs) dispersed across Wayne County based on zip code. The JAC is in
charge of monitoring and reviewing CMOs every six months, communicating
information on each juvenile’s progress to his or her family, and authorizing
changes in service plans when necessary.
CMOs have the responsibility and the autonomy to assign juveniles to a case
manager and to plan service interventions for youths and their families.
Each CMO supervises between 300 and 500 juveniles (Kresnak 2002). CMOs
use community-based treatment options whenever possible, but if youth
require more restrictive interventions, CMOs are accountable for the costs
of confinement. As an incentive, CMOs are rewarded with bonuses when
juveniles graduate from high school or remain drug-free (Kresnak 2002).
Recently, Wayne County developed the Juvenile Agency Information System
(JAIS). The Internet-based system enables vested parties to continuously
monitor the implementation of daily services, ensure that CMOs and juveniles
are in compliance with court orders, and assess juvenile progress (Wayne
County Children & Family Services 2010b). The JAIS is designed to ensure
that CMOs are accountable to parents of participating juveniles.
The primary funding source for the JAC/CMO is the Child Care Fund, which is
an uncapped, 50/50 cost-sharing agreement between the state and Wayne
County. To be eligible for the funds, Wayne County must submit an annual
plan and budget proposal to the state Department of Human Services. If
approved, the county can bill the state for a 50 percent reimbursement of the
cost of eligible juvenile services (Wayne County Children & Family Services
2010b). Examples of eligible services include needs assessment, educational
support, aggressive drug testing, drug treatment, mental health services,
and family intervention (Wayne County Children & Family Services 2010a).
Other funding sources include Federal Title IV-E funds, which the county can
claim for economically deprived youth, and Medicaid, which covers healthcare
and behavioral health services (Wayne County Children & Family Services
2010b).

46

The average daily population of Wayne County
juveniles in state facilities dropped from 906 in
1996 to 40 in 2003. By 2010, there were only
two juveniles in a secure facility. Between 1998
and 2009, the number of juvenile delinquents
sent out-of-state dropped from 200 to 0.
The JAC/CMO system has resulted in significant improvements to Wayne
County’s juvenile justice system. In 1999, the state and the county spent
a combined $113 million on out-of-home placements. Within a decade,
the expenditures for residential placements had fallen to $73 million (New
York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group 2010). Furthermore, during its
first five years of operation, the costs for the JAC/CMO system decreased
each year, and CMO expenditures continue to decrease (Latona, Smith and
Chaney 2006). In 2008, the combined spending of the five CMOs was $115
million. In 2010, CMOs spent $87.5 million (Wayne County Children & Family
Services 2010b).
The Wayne County reforms also reduced juvenile incarceration. The average
daily population of Wayne County juveniles in state facilities dropped from
906 in 1996 to 40 in 2003 (Kresnak 2002). By 2010, there were only two
juveniles in a secure facility (Wayne County Children & Family Services
2010a). Between 1998 and 2009, the number of juvenile delinquents sent
out-of-state dropped from 200 to 0 (New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory
Group 2010).
The recidivism rate indicates that the reforms have been successful. Under
the old system, nearly two-thirds of juveniles released from state placement
returned within two years, but the new system halted the trend. CMOs
served more than 4,000 juveniles in 2010, and of those who participated
in CMO programs from 2009 to 2010, more than 70 percent successfully
completed their court-ordered conditions (Wayne County Children & Family
Services 2010b).

47

In 2004, external evaluators examined the recidivism rate of 1,900 juveniles
released from a CMO and compared this to a group of juveniles released
from state facilities before Wayne County realigned. The recidivism rate
for juveniles released from CMOs was less than five percent, while the
recidivism rate for juveniles released from facilities under the old system
was greater than 50 percent (Plante & Moran 2006). All told, Wayne County
juvenile justice reforms have reduced state and county expenditures, nearly
eliminated the juvenile institutional population, and established privatized
programs that successfully rehabilitate most teens.
Wayne County plans to expand its JAC/CMO system. County officials have
invested the savings from reduced state facility costs into prevention
services, such as after-school programs, truancy enforcement, and in-school
social work in areas with the highest juvenile crime. With support from the
state, Wayne County has realigned its juvenile justice system to create a
functional, privatized, and cost-effective system that is county-controlled.

CALIFORNIA
In 2007, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation to
address the costs and problems associated with the juvenile justice system.
Known as “juvenile justice realignment,” Senate Bill 81 differed from the
1996 sliding scale legislation in that it created strict conditions for placing
juveniles in state institutions and shifted management and responsibility for a
majority of juvenile delinquents from the state to the counties. Realignment
mandated that only those juveniles convicted of sexual, violent, or serious
offenses -- and those sent to a juvenile facility by an adult court -- would
be eligible for state confinement (California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation 2010). In addition, juveniles who had been confined for
any other offense prior to the passage of the bill could be released to the
jurisdiction of their origin (Dawood 2009).
Senate Bill 81 requires counties to submit a proposed plan and budget
for reducing placements in the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF). It also
established the Youthful Offender Block Grant (YOBG) to fund each approved
county’s development of community-based programs and services for
juvenile offenders no longer eligible for confinement (Dawood 2009).

48

The Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) distributes YOBG funds in the
amount of $117,000 per juvenile to county probation departments, so that
they can enhance supervision and offer rehabilitation services (Brown 2011).
To determine precise county allocations, the $117,000 amount is multiplied
by the number of youths eligible for realignment in California. The funds are
then disbursed among the counties based on their share of the state juvenile
population age 10 to 17 and their felony adjudication rate (Ramadas 2008).
In addition to managing the YOBG, the CSA also administers the Youthful
Offender Rehabilitative Facilities Construction grant program, which allocates
funds for counties to improve and expand local facilities for juvenile offenders
(Little Hoover Commission 2008). Local facilities are usually smaller, and
thus more cost-effective, than state facilities and offer county court judges
restrictive but local options for handling serious juvenile offenders who are
ineligible for DJF placement.
The declining number of juveniles in state facilities was a catalyst for
implementation of realignment. In the past decade, the DJF population
decreased by 80 percent (Krisberg et al. 2010). The reduction in youth
confinement, along with lower crime rates and realignment reforms,
has enabled California to close seven juvenile facilities in the last ten
years. Currently, there are four state-run facilities remaining that house
approximately 1,100 youth offenders (Steinhart 2012).
Despite the fact that the DJF population has been dropping over time,
county officials have concerns about the availability of local alternatives.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 81 on August 26, 2007, and
it was enacted less than one week later. This left little time for county
probation departments to design alternatives to DJF placement before
the bill took effect. Probation departments were forced to accept juvenile
offenders who would have been sent to DJF previously, and probation
officers had inadequate time to adapt programs to the influx of new and
different caseloads (Krisberg et al. 2010). The time constraints and delays
in initial funding forced counties to forage for resources to quickly develop
programming options for juvenile offenders.
There were additional drawbacks. Senate Bill 81 did not specify a system of
state oversight. Consequently, there were no guidelines for counties to use

49

Governor Brown released a proposal to shut
down the Division of Juvenile Justice in January
of 2013, but backed away from the plan in
2012. ... Closing the DJJ could have reduced
expenses and provided more rehabilitative

options for juveniles, and state budget analysts
projected that it would have saved as much as

$250 million per year.

when planning and developing local services. Because there was no system
for tracking county expenditures, there was no financial accountability
(Dawood 2009). Counties were not required to report how they spent grant
money, and there was no mandate that they report whether or not proposed
outcomes were being met (Little Hoover Commission 2008).
Stakeholders in California were also concerned about the prerequisites for
youth to benefit from county programs set up under realignment. A juvenile’s
eligibility for a community-based program (in lieu of DJF placement) would
depend on the most recent offense. Judges do not have to consider prior
offenses, so violent, repeat, and serious juvenile offenders with a minor
recent offense could become the responsibility of counties (Krisberg et
al. 2010). Some judges could ignore the realignment mandate to keep
eligible juvenile offenders within their jurisdiction. Those in counties with
high juvenile crime rates (e.g., Los Angeles, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa
Clara, Solano, and Tulare) could continue to send juvenile offenders to DJF
custody, even though their county facilities had more than enough bed space
(Macallair, McCracken and Teji 2011).
Governor Brown released a proposal to shut down the Division of Juvenile
Justice in January of 2013, but backed away from the plan in 2012. If his
plan had succeeded, juvenile justice in California would have been fully
realigned because state facilities for juveniles would no longer exist. Closing
the DJJ could have reduced expenses and provided more rehabilitative
options for juveniles, and state budget analysts projected that closing the DJJ
would have saved as much as $250 million per year (Brown 2011).

50

Local governments had concerns about the plan to eliminate the DJJ
entirely. Without even an option of state facilities for juvenile offenders,
local governments would have had to accept the transfer of all juveniles who
were previously being incarcerated. In addition, while the elimination of the
DJJ would have generated significant savings, it also would have led to the
elimination of more than 4,000 staff positions (Brown 2011), causing political
problems for state and local officials.
Without the option of state facilities for juveniles, advocates worried
that prosecutors could file more juvenile cases in adult court unless local
governments were able to create viable sentencing options at the community
level (Steinhart 2012). Some degree of confinement may be necessary for
certain offenders, including youth with mental illness and those who commit
serious or violent offenses. State officials would have had to fund new
regional facilities for juvenile offenders, or work out sharing agreements
so that counties without space could send offenders to counties with space
(Steinhart 2012).
[Note: Furthermore, in response to reports of overcrowding in California
prisons, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May of 2011 that severe prison
overcrowding was unconstitutional. The ruling was expected to force
the transfer or release of 33,000 prisoners within two years. California
accelerated its realignment strategy to enable counties to supervise these
offenders (Biskupic 2011).]

TEXAS
In addition to undertaking the reinvestment initiatives described above,
Texas partially realigned its juvenile justice system in 2007, when lawmakers
passed Senate Bill 103 to reduce juvenile incarceration. Senate Bill 103
excludes youth offenders adjudicated for misdemeanors from placement
in Texas Youth Commission (TYC) facilities, and requires local jurisdictions
to manage their disposition. This structural realignment of responsibility
obligates local jurisdictions to supervise and/or treat juvenile misdemeanor
offenders. Senate Bill 103 also specifies 150 other reform measures,
including a system of oversight and inspection in TYC facilities, increased
training requirements for juvenile correctional officers, a mandated juvenileto-staff ratio of twelve-to-one inside facilities, and the appointment
of a caseworker for every juvenile on probation (Yanez-Correa 2011).

51

Furthermore, the bill reduces the maximum amount of time that juveniles
can remain in TYC custody. While the previous age limit was 21, the TYC
must now release or transfer juveniles to adult prison or parole by the age of
19 (Levin 2010b).
To encourage the development of community-based youth programming,
Senate Bill 103 allocates funds for county probation departments to address
the needs of juvenile misdemeanor offenders who would have previously
been placed in TYC custody. The initial statewide allocation was nearly $58
million from 2008 to 2009, which represented half the cost of committing
misdemeanor youths who were no longer eligible for TYC placement (Levin
2010b). Currently, the state contributes to county probation departments
$51,100 per juvenile successfully diverted from TYC placement, to cover the
costs of supervision and treatment (Texas Juvenile Probation Commission
2010). The Legislature allocates additional county funds. In fiscal year
2008-2009, the State Legislature appropriated $22.5 million for the
enhancement of community-based programs (Legislative Budget Board
2009).
Following the enactment of Senate Bill 103 and in response to reports
of abuse and poor conditions inside TYC facilities, the state closed four
maximum-security facilities (National Juvenile Justice Network 2008).
The TYC population quickly decreased because of the closures and the
decarceration of misdemeanor offenders. While the TYC population was
5,646 in 2000, it had dropped to 1,688 one year after the state implemented
Senate Bill 103 (Levin 2010a; National Juvenile Justice Network 2008).
Allegations of abuse subsided and programs inside TYC facilities improved.
In 2011, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 653, which called for the
abolition of the TYC and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC)
by the end of the year. The two agencies were replaced by a single agency,
the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (JJD), and the central objective of
the department is to establish a continuum of community and family-based
alternatives that keep juveniles out of state facilities. Senate Bill 653 places
emphasis on probation and treatment for youth in their community, and
allows the state to transfer control of closed facilities to the counties in which
they are located. Oversight of the JJD and the responsibility for handling
complaints about its services and facilities will be the responsibility of the
Office of Independent Ombudsman.

52

The merger of the TYC and TJPC will allow the state to eliminate several
redundant positions and save more than $3 million by 2013 (Legislative
Budget Board 2011b). State senator John Whitmire, author of Senate Bill
653, believes the bill will also enable the state to safely close at least three
juvenile facilities. Whitmire estimates that the state will need only 400 youth
beds in secure facilities, which is more than 1,000 fewer than the current
number of institutional beds (Old River-Winfree Community News 2011).

NEW YORK
New York State is currently pursuing a juvenile justice reform approach
that in some way includes all three strategies (Schiraldi and Richter 2012).
The Office of Child and Family Services, which oversees the state’s juvenile
facilities, has been closing institutions for several years, largely due to the
falling crime rate. The state legislature authorized financial incentives to
reduce confinement further, and in 2012 the Governor proposed and the
legislature enacted strutural and organizational reforms known as “Close to
Home,” which ensure that most youthful offenders from New York City will
receive services and sanctions in their own communities rather than being
transported to facilities in upstate New York.
Gladys Carrion, the commissioner of the New York Office of Child and Family
Services, moved aggressively to begin closing juvenile facilities across the
state as the juvenile crime rate fell and demands for bed-space declined. A
legislative proposal known as “Re-direct New York,” under consideration until
2011, would have created financial incentives for counties to avoid confining
youth (i.e., through reinvestment incentives). In subsequent years, the
high cost of secure placements pushed New York to take additional steps
to reform its juvenile justice focus from secure placement to alternative
rehabilitation.
In 2007, New York incarcerated 3,612 youth (Sickmund 2010), more than
half were being held for misdemeanor offenses (Task Force on Transforming
Juvenile Justice 2009). This expensive policy proved untenable. The Office
of Child and Family Services (OCFS) estimated that it cost up to $266,000
annually to incarcerate one juvenile in a state institution in New York (New
York Juvenile Justice Advisory Group 2010).

53

New York expected to see its institutional population drop by 62 percent
between 2002 and 2011 because of the decline in serious juvenile crime. Due
to the fixed costs of operating institutions, however, the state projected that
it would spend $23 million more on juvenile facilities in 2011 than it spent in
2002 (New York Juvenile Justice Advisory Group 2010). Currently, the state
and counties contribute equally to the cost of juvenile incarceration (Fight
Crime: Invest in Kids 2011). The state does not cover any of the cost of
community-based alternatives, so local jurisdictions may actually save money
by sending juvenile offenders to state institutions.
Juveniles released from state facilities, however, have a high recidivism rate,
raising questions about the cost-effectiveness of the system. State statistics
indicate that 63 percent of youth committed to the state are re-arrested
within two years of their release (New York Juvenile Justice Advisory Group
2010).
Responding to concerns about cost and recidivism, the state initiated several
changes to reduce youth confinement. Since 2007, the OCFS has closed or
downsized more than 20 juvenile facilities (National Juvenile Justice Network
2011) because many operated well below capacity. One facility was empty
of juvenile wards but remained fully staffed and funded as if it were in
operation. Other facilities housed as few as one or two juveniles (Mattingly
and Schiraldi 2010).
The closures had an immediate effect on youth confinement. By 2010, there
were 681 juveniles in state custody — nearly 3,000 fewer than in 2007 (New
York Juvenile Justice Advisory Group 2010) — and evaluators estimated that
the changes would save the state more than $16 million (Balck 2010).
New York state legislators have put forward several proposals to reform the
juvenile justice system. In 2009, Re-direct New York was introduced in the
House and Senate (A7872/S5378 2009), calling for the creation of financial
incentives for counties that diverted juveniles from state facilities. Under the
proposal, a portion of the savings from the closure of secure juvenile facilities
would be reinvested in community-based youth programming (Fight Crime:
Invest in Kids 2011). Re-direct New York included a reimbursement clause
that would have required the state to contribute 65 percent of the cost of
community-based services to counties that reduced juvenile commitments

54

by 25 percent. While the bill has yet to pass, it could save the state millions
because community-based programs cost less than $20,000 annually per
youth.
A New York State senator introduced a bill similar to Re-direct New York in
early 2011 (New York State Senate 2011). The proposal would have offered
counties financial incentives to create alternative-to-incarceration programs
for juveniles. Similar to Re-direct, the bill would have required OCFS to
reimburse counties for up to 65 percent of the costs of community-based
programming. Although the proposed bill did not pass the 2011 Assembly,
state representatives continue to push for juvenile justice reform.
Governor Cuomo’s 2012 budget proposal calls for a transfer of responsibility
for all but the most seriously delinquent youth from the state to local
governments. The governor’s proposal acknowledges the high cost and
rehabilitative ineffectiveness of state confinement and seeks to relocate
youth offenders from remote facilities into city-run facilities that are closer to
their homes (Kaplan 2012). The transition from state to local juvenile justice
will enable youth to receive rehabilitation, support, and opportunities while
remaining close to their families.

55

CONCLUSION |
Although one would expect the crime rate to drive incarceration rates,
there often is no relationship. Sometimes, the prevalence of incarceration
correlates with the crime rate, other times, the two deviate completely. As
we have seen in the examples above, incarceration is the result of policy
choices. Policymakers allocate a certain amount of funding for juvenile
justice services and decide how to distribute these funds among secure
facilities and alternatives to incarceration. When suitable alternatives exist,
juvenile courts are likely to utilize them for youth who might be responsive to
community-based supervision and/or treatment. For jurisdictions that have
no dispositional options other than confinement and probation, confinement
rates are likely to be inflated.
Many states are exploring policies for reducing youth confinement.
Confinement is a simple solution for handling troubled youth, but its
consequences are complex. Secure facilities are often hundreds of miles
away from the homes and families of delinquent youth, and they may receive
minimal rehabilitation, if any, while confined. Community-based dispositions
are often more effective (or at least no worse) than confinement, because
courts and program coordinators can tailor dispositions to the individual
needs of youth. For policymakers facing budget cuts and the need to reduce
expenditures, community-based dispositions are often more cost-efficient
than confinement.
This report describes reforms being used across the country to reduce state
dependence on confinement. Some states have pursued strategies classified
as resolution; others have pursued reinvestment or realignment — and some,
like California and New York, have tried more than one of these strategies,
sometimes by blending them (Butts and Evans 2011). All of the strategies,
however, share a common goal: localizing juvenile justice management and
eliminating the incentives that often lead to over-incarceration.
The important question for policymakers is: what happens to these reforms
when crime rates increase, state budgets grow, or political change occurs?
While resolution strategies may force state and county governments to seek

56

alternative placements in the short-term, a state can simply build or expand
facilities over time. Massachusetts shut down its residential youth facilities
in 1972, but the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services currently
operates 56 facilities, ranging from secure group homes to highly secure
locked units (Sylva 2011).
Similarly, states can (and do) scale back on incarceration by relying on
reinvestment strategies that alter budget allocations, but these arrangements
are reversible. Deschutes County, Oregon launched a reinvestment initiative
to reduce its youth confinement and earn state funding for community-based
alternatives. After the six-year pilot ended, the county discontinued the
initiative.
Realignment, by comparison, may be more durable, because it requires
each county or region to build its own localized system. It is difficult to
restore a centralized state agency that has been eliminated and replaced
with smaller agencies managed at the local level. Realignment decentralizes
state functions and enables communities to take control of decisionmaking and policy implementation. Realignment strategies may be more
resistant to policy changes and fluctuations in crime rates. The realignment
approach, however, is relatively new. It may be too soon to assess its
long-term effectiveness. But, to the extent that realignment results in a basic
reorganization of management and responsibility for youth justice, it may be
the best way for states to fund and oversee juvenile justice.

57

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R e s e a rc h a n d E va lu atio n C e n ter

A Member of the Research Consortium of
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City of University of New York
555 West 57th Street , Suite 605 | New York, NY 10019
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The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City
University of New York, is an applied research organization established in 1975 to
provide members of the academic community of John Jay College with opportunities
to respond to the research needs of justice practitioners in New York City, New
York State, and the nation. The Center operates under the supervision of the
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