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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75245 Find in a Library
Title: Deinstitutionalizing Delinquent Youth
Author(s): M Fabricant
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 217
Sponsoring Agency: Schenkman Publishing Co
Cambridge, MA 02138
Sale Source: Schenkman Publishing Co
3 Mt Auburn Place
Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A Massachusetts community's response to a major innovative policy change in the administration of juvenile justice is used to illustrate the interactionist perspective for studying effects of direct change upon complex community institutions.
Abstract: Interactionists believe that directed change, to be successful, must anticipate reactions of actors throughout an organizational domain. Juvenile justice, for instance, is the product of interaction among police, family court, detention center, treatment facilities, and the young persons themselves. The book narrates events in a single community (unnamed) during the period that the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) tried to implement a policy of deinstitutionalization following its closing of State schools in 1972. The responses of each of the actors affected by this policy change are described and analyzed. The case study examines the effect of recent reform of State programs on the routing agent's decisionmaking, the effect of deinstitutionalization on the police officer's behavior in the field and in the court, and the structure and decisionmaking process of the juvenile court. The analysis also assesses the reform movement's influence on the probation officer's control strategies, the detention center's problems of limited physical space and monetary resources as a result of the State school closings, and the residential treatment facility's steady drift away from its idealized concepts of therapy. It is concluded that DYS's administrative independence from the residential facilities that it was funding had proved to be an inadequate organizational arrangement, that the departure of the police and courts from proper legal procedure had served to raise the level of tension between these agencies and the delinquents they were apprehending and judging, and that DYS's decision to dismantle all of its control facilities had resulted in the channeling of hardcore delinquents to out-of-State facilities. To help correct these problems, the study recommends the administrative consolidation of concerned agencies, the creation of a new agency to monitor both court and police practices, and DYS administration of a number of small secure facilities for certain youth who cannot function in nonsecure treatment settings. In addition, it is suggested that offenders be separated by age, sex, and criminal background and that a forum be established to help the various agencies such as court, police, and DYS exchange viewpoints and ideas. The inevitablity of interorganizational and interpersonal conflict is nevertheless posited. More rigorous methods of inquiry are suggested which would further elaborate upon DYS's and other State agencies' continuing adjustments to interorganizational pressures; categorize basic sets of relationships between these types of regulative settings; and associate various organizational responses with differences and changes in ideological perspective. Tabular data are given. About 60 bibliographical references and a list of interviewed delinquents and agents of control are appended.
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Behavioral and Social Sciences; Change management; Community-based corrections (juvenile); Correctional reform; Deinstitutionalization; Massachusetts; Program implementation
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