An Evaluation of Virginia's Young Juvenile Offender Initiative: Preliminary Findings From the First Year of Implementation

Julie A. Goetz, Commonwealth of Virginia

Crime committed by young juvenile offenders and inadequate mechanisms available to intervene predictably and early with these youth have been identified as critical issues in the state of Virginia. In response, Virginia's Department of Criminal Justice Services developed the Young Juvenile Offender initiative (YJO). The primary goal of this initiative is to reduce further penetration of first-time offending juveniles under the age of 14 into the criminal justice system. Secondary goals include improved interagency collaboration; development of a system of graduated sanctions and services; improved ability to match offenders with services and sanctions by creating a multi-disciplinary screening team; enhanced funding for service provision; and development of a mechanism for tracking youth and family outcomes.

Virginia's Department of Criminal Justice Services Research Center has been charged with evaluating both the implementation and impact of this initiative on youth, family, and system outcomes. This paper discusses this on-going evaluation process and addresses how well this initiative has been implemented across the state and within participating sites during the first year of existence; preliminary indications of program impact on youth, their families, and the criminal justice system; and recommendations for enhancing continued administration of the initiative.

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Updated 05/20/2006