The NCJFCJ’s research division, the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), works to translate data into information that busy juvenile justice policymakers and professionals can put to use. Disseminating information not only to those working in the juvenile justice field but also to the public is an important part of the data-driven decision-making feedback loop.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)-funded Statistics and Systems Development (SSD) Program, now the National Juvenile Justice Data Analysis Program, has published a series of Juvenile Offenders and Victims reports. These user-friendly reports draw on reliable data and relevant research to provide a comprehensive and insightful view of juvenile crime across the nation. For example, NCJJ analyses presented in these reports established that the peak time for juvenile violence is in the hours at the end of the school day, a fact now taken for granted by most in the field. NCJJ developed and maintains OJJDP’s primary vehicle for the dissemination of statistical data, the online Statistical Briefing Book, one of the most used areas of OJJDP’s website.
The NCJJ’s long-time Technical Assistance to Juvenile Courts Project, funded by OJJDP, has responded to thousands of technical assistance requests in its decades-long history, and publications both changed and documented a change in the field. Examples of such seminal publications are the Desktop Guide to Good Juvenile Probation Practice, the State Responses to Serious and Violent Juvenile Crime, and the online State Juvenile Justice Profiles.
With funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NCJJ launched the Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, & Statistics) website that tracks juvenile justice change across the country to understand better and encourage reform and highlight progressive data dissemination.
The Juvenile Justice GPS website details the variations in state juvenile justice laws, policies, and procedures—variations critical to understand to work in the field. The website presents this information alongside relevant juvenile justice statistical information. The site is in many ways a marriage of the Statistical Briefing Book and the State Juvenile Justice Profiles sites in an interactive, highly visual way.
The Juvenile Offenders and Victims reports have been widely used (by the White House, both sides of the aisle in Congress, practitioners and policymakers at all levels, and the public). The last edition was cited in U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roper and Miller. NCJJ’s Data Analysis Program also publishes the annual Juvenile Arrests bulletin and developed and maintains the online Statistical Briefing Book for the OJJDP. The Briefing Book is one of the most popular areas of OJJDP’s website with more than 400,000 visits each year.
OJJDP distributed copies of the Desktop Guide to every juvenile probation office in the country to improve juvenile probation’s professionalism and establish a consistent set of best practices nationwide.
The State Responses report presented the results of a study into the strategies states were implementing to deal with the upsurge in juvenile violence from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. Policymakers learned that: nearly every state had made it easier for juveniles to be tried and sanctioned as adults, the confidentiality protections associated with juvenile court had eroded substantially, states had embraced victims’ rights in their juvenile justice systems, and many had established specialized corrections programs for the most serious juvenile offenders, either in juvenile or adult corrections. The State Responses report coined the term “blended sentencing,” a term now familiar to justice professionals throughout the country.
The NCJFCJ’s vision is for broad data dissemination by local, state, and national juvenile justice agencies to inform the system and the public on the performance of the juvenile justice system. The NCJFCJ recommends congressional recognition of OJJDP’s federal role regarding the dissemination of data and statistical information, as well as, the restoration of OJJDP’s discretionary funds for dissemination.