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  March 2001

Anticipating Space Needs in Juvenile Detention and Correctional Facilities

Jeffrey Butts and William Adams


Space Needs and System Decisionmaking

Projections of Juvenile Confinement Populations

Example: Projecting the Juvenile Commitment Population in 2002

Population Projections in Practice




This Bulletin was prepared under grant number 98JBVXK004 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

A Message From OJJDP

One of the most difficult challenges facing State and local juvenile justice systems is anticipating space needs in detention and correctional facilities.

Underestimating future demands can lead to overcrowded and less safe facilities. Overestimating future demands can lead to mismanaged tax dollars and even misuse of the extra space, such as detaining juveniles who would not otherwise be confined. In either case, the cost of miscalculating the need for additional space in secure juvenile facilities can be considerable.

This Bulletin provides policymakers with information that will help them to determine the appropriate space needed to accommodate the number of juvenile offenders expected to be placed in residential facilities. An overview of juvenile justice system policies and decisionmaking that affect the process of assessing future space needs is provided, and an analysis of the different projection models is included.

Given the dynamic nature of juvenile justice policies, anticipating space needs in detention and correctional facilities will always be challenging. Adoption of the ongoing systematic forecasting approach set forth in this Bulletin, however, should enable policymakers to enhance the quality and usefulness of their projections.



This Bulletin was written by Jeffrey Butts, Ph.D., Director of the Assessment of Space Needs in Juvenile Detention and Corrections project at The Urban Institute, and William Adams, Research Associate with the project. The project is housed within The Urban Institutes Justice Policy Center, directed by Dr. Adele Harrell. Development of the Bulletin benefited from significant contributions by Ojmarrh Mitchell, Research Associate with The Urban Institute; Dr. William Sabol, formerly of The Urban Institute and now Associate Director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Social Change at Case Western Reserve University; Joseph Moone, Program Specialist in OJJDPs Research and Program Development Division; and Dr. Helen Marieskind, a Writer/Editor in OJJDPs Information Dissemination Unit. The authors are also grateful for comments and criticisms provided by Dr. Howard Snyder and Dr. Melissa Sickmund of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.

Both OJJDP and The Urban Institute gratefully acknowledge the efforts of the State and local officials who assisted in the project. Their participation helped to make this Bulletin possible. In particular, senior officials from the State-level juvenile corrections agencies in Alaska, California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin provided critical comments and insight.

NCJ 185234

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