Juvenile Justice Centers

Find juvenile justice centers, departments, or juvenile delinquency prevention offices. Juvenile justice centers provide information on juvenile delinquency and victimization, juvenile detention, juvenile rehabilitation, juvenile probation, juvenile corrections, and the juvenile court system.

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About Juvenile Justice Centers

What is Juvenile Justice?

Juvenile Justice refers to a section of the legal system that has been developed to handle youth who have broken the law. The Juvenile Justice System is separate from the legal system for adult offenders. While the adult criminal justice system is driven largely by the objectives of punishment and deterrence, Juvenile Justice is premised on the notions that youth are less blameworthy than adults and more capable of change. Rehabilitation is thus a significant element of the Juvenile Justice System. Juvenile Justice Systems run by states are defined by state statutes and are comprised of a series of processes that involve numerous agencies, including courts, law enforcement, corrections, and social services.

Law enforcement agencies are often the initial contact that youth have with the Juvenile Justice System. After making an arrest, or otherwise responding to a call, law enforcement may refer an offending youth to a Juvenile Justice agency or other intake center capable of assessing whether the youth should be handled informally or referred to a juvenile court for formal processing.

While awaiting formal processing, youth may be held in a detention center, which is required to provide education, recreation, counseling, and other services to youth during their stay. The judicial process for youthful offenders is called Adjudication and somewhat resembles a trial. The Juvenile Justice System will then develop a Disposition Plan based on the Adjudication process, any psychological assessments and diagnostic testing that may have taken place, the youth's background, and other considerations. The Disposition Plan details the consequences of the youth's actions and may include probation, community supervision, placement in a juvenile correction facility, or restitution.

At any point in the Juvenile Justice System, a process referred to as Diversion may occur. Diversion involves directing the youth away from the Juvenile Justice System and toward alternative resolutions and consequences.

Juvenile Justice Systems include an Aftercare or Reentry component that assists youth after they have completed the elements of the Disposition Plan or have been released from a juvenile correction facility. The Aftercare and Reentry components may involve a mix of community service providers.