Family and Community Support Help Decrease Youth Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System

Research can play a critical role in showing how to better care for the nearly two million adolescents arrested and 100,000 held in residential placement facilities each year.

In this video interview, Joyce Burrell, AIR principal investigator and juvenile justice program leader, talks about how people under 18 have better outcomes when they remain in the community with supports. She also says that family support and community reinvestment can help decrease the number of people that go into the juvenile justice system.

“Once we started doing research, we learned that children who experience institutional placement have far worse outcomes than children who are able to stay in the community with alternatives to incarceration, alternatives to detention, and alternatives to placement,” Burrell said.

For decades, AIR has conducted research and evaluated programs and interventions around juvenile justice with a special emphasis on concurrent factors such as mental health and substance abuse issues, learning disabilities, poverty, and trauma. AIR also provides technical assistance to practitioners and promotes evidenced-based practice models. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recently selected AIR in partnership with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) and the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) to create a state training and technical assistance center to improve outcomes for adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system.

Burrell has worked for decades in juvenile justice including four years leading New York’s juvenile justice reform initiative while serving as the Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.