The NCJFCJ has prepared, The Role of the Judge in Transforming Juvenile Probation: A Toolkit for Leadership (hereafter also referred to as the Toolkit) to provide judges with practical strategies and recommendations to help their jurisdictions take on probation transformation efforts. The Toolkit offers detailed descriptions of recommended changes in five areas of probation practice:
- Individualized Case Planning
- Incentives and Rewards
- Minimizing Conditions of Probation
- Alternatives to Confinement in Response to Violations
- Probation as a Disposition for Youth Involved in Serious Delinquency
For each of these areas, the Toolkit sets forth the specifics of the recommended practice and the research behind it. Each section also provides a summary of the key elements of the practice change. Further, each section explains how the practice can promote racial and ethnic equity, suggests key data points for planning and analysis, and reviews possible challenges to implementation. At the close of each section, judges will find specific ideas about how they can promote effective implementation of the practice — both on the bench in individual cases, and off the bench as they lead or advocate for system-wide reforms to support needed changes. The concluding section offers suggestions on how judges can lead efforts to adopt recommended reforms, with a special focus on collaboration.
The Toolkit was developed with an understanding that juvenile court judges have significant power to influence probation practices and lead probation reform efforts – even in systems where juvenile probation is not part of the judiciary. Judges also have considerable influence as leaders in their local justice systems and can help foster the collaboration needed to make meaningful and sustainable changes to improve probation.
NCJFCJ offers this Toolkit in hopes that judges across the nation will take advantage of these opportunities to promote the adoption of the reforms highlighted in the NCJFCJs 2017 resolution on juvenile probation. We hope the Toolkit will help judges and other system partners advance urgently needed reforms in how our courts work with youth on probation and further their success.