juvenile courts today, as in the past, continues to include both children who break criminal laws and children who commit status delinquency offenses.
Policies of the last decade have become more punitive toward delinquent juveniles, but especially toward juveniles who commit violent crimes. Punitive policies include easier waivers to adult court, excluding certain offenses from juvenile court jurisdiction, blended juvenile and adult sentences, increased authority to prosecutors to decide to file cases in adult court, and more frequent custodial placement of adjudicated delinquents. The great majority of recent changes in juvenile justice law and practice have not been evaluated. Research to date shows that juveniles transferred to adult court may be more likely to recidivate than those who remain under juvenile court jurisdiction. Furthermore, there are negative effects of detention and incarceration of juveniles on behavior and future developmental trajectories. Detained and incarcerated juveniles have higher rates of physical injury, mental health problems, and suicide attempts and have poorer educational outcomes than do their counterparts who are treated in the community. Detention and incarceration also cause severe and long-term problems with future employment, leaving ex-offenders with few economic alternatives to crime. Recent research also demonstrates that many serious as well as nonserious offenders can be treated in the community without endangering public safety.
At the same time that laws have become more punitive, innovative approaches to providing services within the juvenile justice system have been introduced. In addition, a fair amount of evaluation research on some programs has been undertaken. Contrary to those who claim that rehabilitative efforts are a waste of time because nothing works, efforts at diverting children and adolescents from detention or incarceration and providing services for them in the community show some promise. Research on treatment programs in correctional institutions suggests that cognitive-behavioral, skill-oriented, and multimodal programs have the best results in terms of recidivism reduction. Research on intensive after-care programs is less conclusive, but it seems clear that delinquent juveniles require more than just intensive surveillance and control to affect rates of future offending and help them successfully reintegrate into society. Experiments with the restorative justice model point to ways in which juvenile offenders can be held responsible for their offenses, make restitution to victims, and receive services aimed at reintegrating them into society.
Information about the number of juveniles in custody—in detention or juvenile correctional facilities—is very poor. Data on the conditions under which juveniles are incarcerated and the types of services available to them are minimal. From the available data, it appears that the rate of juveniles placed in custodial institutions has increased substantially in