Forecasting Juvenile Correctional Needs: New Directions

Daniel P. Mears, The Urban Institute
Jeffrey Butts, The Urban Institute

Credible forecasts of juvenile correctional needs are essential for developing cost-effective juvenile justice policies. To be credible, forecasts must be accurate and perceived as legitimate. Unfortunately, many states use forecast models that are based on unfounded assumptions and minimal empircal modeling. Others do not rely on the expertise of policymakers and practitioners. As a result, the resulting forecasts are likely to be inaccurate and to be viewed with skepticism and mistrust. This paper describes key problems with how forecasts typically are produced. It then highlights an "ideal" process for producing forecasts, including demonstration of how to improve empirical estimation of future juvenile correctional needs.

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Updated 05/20/2006