From 1988 to 1997, the number of delinquency cases processed by U.S. juvenile courts increased 48 percent to more than 1.7 million cases. In some 83 percent of all cases in which the youth was adjudicated delinquent, the disposition involved a corrections sanction.
This increasing volume of cases has strained the juvenile correctional system, from intake and detention to community supervision and secure confinement, adding to the challenge of protecting the public, holding juvenile offenders accountable, and meeting their treatment and rehabilitative needs.
To help juvenile justice professionals meet such challenges, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provides technical assistance to thousands of juvenile justice practitioners, policymakers, and other concerned citizens each year. OJJDP funds a myriad of programs designed to assist State agency staff, community-based agencies and organizations, judges, law enforcement officials, and correctional administrators.
This manual provides jurisdictions with guidance in assessing local needs for corrections technical assistance and committing available resources to address those needs. It focuses on change at the jurisdictional (i.e., city, county, or State) level because the resolution of corrections issues often requires simultaneous analysis of the operations and interactions of multiple systems and institutions. While incremental approaches to solving corrections problems may focus initially on a single institution, ultimately the best resolutions will be informed by the shared vision of the jurisdiction's key juvenile corrections stakeholders in conjunction with other juvenile justice components. Accordingly, the concept of jurisdictional technical assistance contemplates coordination and collaboration as integral steps in the technical assistance process.
Juvenile justice practitioners whose jurisdictions require moderate technical assistance will use the manual primarily as an information resource. For more complex or long-term problems, practitioners will use the manual as an interactive workbook, with sections at the end of each chapter designed to help them assess local needs and plan specific strategies. Supplemental chapters that address additional juvenile correctional areas will be issued in the coming months.
I trust that this document will help juvenile justice practitioners across the Nation to creatively and effectively solve the complex corrections issues they encounter.
John J. Wilson