lic safety. But as the report discusses, the behavior of these youth is still driven by the same risk factors and developmental processes that influence the behavior of other delinquents. For that reason, the committee has not included a separate chapter singling out this small subgroup of serious delinquents. Instead, we consider the entire population of juvenile offenders, noting when appropriate specific differences that arise for serious, violent, or chronic offenders.


Chapter 2 describes the history of the juvenile court and its shifting goals, with a particular emphasis on the harsh policies of the 1990s and the emergence of a contemporary model of juvenile justice in the 21st century. It explains the role of scientific research in this most recent reform period and its influence on attitudes, policies, and programs. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the current practice of juvenile justice in the United States and the characteristics of juvenile justice administration that make reform difficult and uneven. Chapter 4 reviews the body of behavioral, psychological, and neuroscience research demonstrating that adolescence is a distinct period of human development differing in fundamental ways from both childhood and adulthood. Chapter 5 draws out the implications of a developmental perspective for design and operation of a fair and effective system of juvenile justice. Chapter 6 focuses specifically on the body of research bearing on the most effective policies and programs for preventing reoffending by youth who have come to the attention of the juvenile court. Chapter 7 explores the implications of the developmental perspective for designing a fair and effective process for holding youth accountable for their wrongdoing. Chapter 8 provides an overview of the problem of racial/ethnic disparity in the juvenile justice system, reviews the contending explanations for minority overrepresentation, and identifies strategies for moving beyond the current impasse. Chapter 9 describes the major juvenile justice reform initiatives undertaken over the past two decades and identifies the key lessons that can be drawn from these experiences to guide jurisdictions embarking on the path of developmentally informed reform. Chapter 10 is an overview of OJJDP’s legislatively mandated role in helping state and localities strengthen their juvenile justice systems and make them more fair and equitable. It describes OJJDP’s current weakened status and the steps that will be needed to restore its leadership capacity to promote the developmentally appropriate treatment of juveniles by the justice system. Chapter 11 concludes the report with the committee’s recommendations for achieving a fairer and effective system of juvenile justice based on a developmental approach.

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