Implementation and Outcomes of an Innovative Front End Juvenile Justice Reform Initiative

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PurposeThe current study describes the successes and challenges experienced during the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Mobile Response Team (JJMRT) initiative in Albany, New York. This initiative represented a collaborative effort by local police, probation and three local non-profit community agencies to better identify the needs and risks of youth at time of arrest to ensure the needs of the youth were appropriately met.MethodsA combination of qualitative and quantitative data were used to describe the organization, implementation, and impacts of the JJMRT on the local juvenile justice system. Qualitative data consisted of interviews conducted with members of each of the organizations involved in the JJMRT initiative. Quantitative data was collected from the JJMRT intake forms and was analyzed descriptively.ResultsFindings suggest this initiative had a limited impact on the juvenile justice system response to youth upon arrest, but that the initiative was successful in facilitating increased awareness of the perspectives and duties of each of the different agencies involved in the local juvenile justice system.DiscussionWhile the JJMRT initiative had limited success in achieving its stated goal, a number of lessons were learned. First, the results highlight the importance of applying the risk-need-responsivity model at the earliest point possible, as the screening conducted by JJMRT before youth were officially arrested resulted in the discontinuation of about a quarter of youth arrests and in turn allowed for the avoidance of formal processing. Second, a growing body of research argued for the inclusion of social workers in the juvenile justice process in a fashion similar to that of the JJMRT. While the results of the current study suggest the inclusion of social workers facilitated increased communication among juvenile justice stakeholders, it also resulted in at least short term tensions as all involved adjusted to new roles and responsibilities



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