In 2008, over 93,000 young people were incarcerated and states spend about $ billion each year imprisoning youth, even though the majority are held for nonviolent offenses. Locking up young people has negative consequences both for the youth themselves and for their communities. While the past few decades have seen positive steps taken in juvenile justice, both by individual jurisdictions and through national initiatives, there is much more that needs to be done. Shifting resources to community-based services and youth development is key.
The framework for DJJ’s programs is the Integrated Behavior Treatment Model. It is designed to reduce institutional violence and future criminal behavior by teaching anti-criminal attitudes and providing personal skills for youth to better manage their environment. DJJ staff from every professional discipline work as a team to assess the unique needs of each youth and to develop an individualized treatment program to address them. Through collaboration with the youth, the team administers a case plan that takes advantage of each youth’s personal strengths to maximize treatment in other areas of their life to reduce the risk of re-offending.