OJJDP sponsors a biennial Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement that provides minimum information. This instrument identifies juveniles in custody on the specific date of the survey and therefore over samples juveniles in long-term confinement. Furthermore, neither this instrument nor the newly designed Juvenile Residential Facility Census (begun in October 2000), which collects basic data on size, structure, security arrangements, and ownership of facilities designed to house juveniles, as well as information about the provision of health care, education, substance abuse treatment, and mental health treatment in those facilities, yields information about children or youth housed in jails, adult institutions, or mental hospital facilities. OJJDP is planning a Survey of Youth in Residential Placement that will help to inform the public about conditions of confinement. It should be a matter of public accountability for facilities that hold juveniles in secure confinement to report on a regular basis on the conditions under which those juveniles are kept and the types of services provided.
Recommendation: The Congress should provide adequate funds to OJJDP and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in order to assure proper data collection on conditions of confinement as well as new funds to develop national data collection systems to measure the number and characteristics of children and adolescents outside the juvenile jurisdictions, those transferred to criminal court, and those held in adult prisons or jails.
Despite the large amount of descriptive literature about the juvenile justice system, little research has identified how different laws regarding juvenile crime or different practices in confinement affect juveniles in the juvenile justice system. For example, do behavioral modification programs used in secure facilities have an influence on behavior of juveniles after release? Are there long-term effects of isolation used as punishment for disobedient juveniles in confinement? Are there special benefits for particular educational programs carried out in juvenile institutions? Studies of a variety of policies and practices should be undertaken, with evaluations of psychological, educational, and physical effects on the juveniles, as well as measures of recidivism.
Recommendation: The federal government should assist the states in evaluating the effects of correctional policies and practices such as the use of behavior modification programs, physical restraints, and isolation on incarcerated juveniles, as well as determining the effectiveness of educational and psychological programming in correctional facilities.