Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

Juvenile Justice Reform

SJI supports innovative projects that advance best practices in handling dependency and delinquency cases; promote effective court oversight of juveniles in the justice system; address the impact of trauma on juvenile behavior; assist the courts in identification of appropriate provision of services for juveniles; and address juvenile re-entry.


Juvenile Justice Reform and State Courts Initiative (JJRSCI)

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) along with the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the Center for Children’s Law & Policy (CCLP), the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), and the RFK National Resource Center (RFK-NRC) partner to form the Expert Working Group for the JJRSCI.  Building on the Models for Change Initiative supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Working Group continues toidentify juvenile justice policy, procedures, and practices that should be reformed; propose projects to be funded by the initiative; provide expertise to identify subject matter experts; and provide TA, training and other activities to the state teams as they continue to implement their action plans.  They also promote court community sharing by disseminating information about the initiative and its resources through various websites, conference presentations, and social media. 


 Juvenile Probation Guidelines

Since 2005, with the original publication of Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Juvenile Delinquency Cases (JDG), the NCJFCJ has worked with juvenile justice courts to promulgate best practices in juvenile delinquency proceedings.  The purpose of the Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines was to set forth the essential elements of effective practice for the court processes that are involved in the handling of juvenile delinquency cases.  It identified recommended practices throughout the juvenile delinquency court system – from the determination of whether a case should enter the formal juvenile delinquency court system, to determination as to whether juvenile delinquency court jurisdiction should be waived and the youth transferred to criminal court, as well as post-disposition review of the reentry process for youth returning to the community from out-of-home placement.

In 2017, the NCJFCJ revisited the Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines to ensure that it reflected the changes in court practice, advances in brain science, the understanding of adolescent development and the juvenile specific rulings from the Supreme Court.  The  Enhanced Juvenile Justice Guidelines contains up-to-date information on general court processes, initiating juvenile justice court processes, best practices in detention or initial hearings, waiver and transfer hearings, trial/adjudication hearings, disposition hearings, the appeals process, post-disposition reviews, and probation and parole violations.


Military Families in Juvenile and Family Courts

In partnership with the U. S. Department of Defense, this initiative allows the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to identify and recruit juvenile and family courts in jurisdictions with significant military presence; create an online national resource center; develop a training curriculum for judges, military command, and key stakeholders; and hold a second summit on military families and state courts for continuing and sustaining these efforts.  NCJFCJ hosts the National Resource Center on Military-Connected Families and the Courts which includes a report on the Second National Summit on Courts and Military-Connected Families, along with additional resources. 


Juvenile Court Judges 50-State Landscape Analysis

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has partnered with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to conduct a 50-state landscape analysis of juvenile court policies and practices. The goal of this project is to uplift the critical role of juvenile court judges as a specialty practice, establish an unprecedented baseline for the adoption of key juvenile court policies and practices in every state, and ensure that state and local policies and court rules position judges statewide to implement evidence-based approaches. Through statutory and court rule analysis, surveys, and focus groups with juvenile court judges, the CSG Justice Center and NCJFCJ will conduct state-by-state analysis on how juvenile court judges are appointed, rotated, and trained, as well as positioned to make research-based court decisions, promote evidence-based practices, and lead juvenile justice system reform efforts.  This analysis will identify key trends and best practices, produce, and disseminate a national report with nationwide and state-by-state analysis, and conduct extensive judicial education, training, and other information sharing with states and the field to highlight and advance opportunities to uplift and support the critical role of juvenile court judges in promoting public safety and improved outcomes for youth.