Out-of-Home Placements Falling Among Younger Juveniles

databit201401_coverButts, Jeffrey A. (2014). Out-of-Home Placements Falling Among Younger JuvenilesResearch and Evaluation Data Bits [2014-01]. New York, NY: Research and Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.

Before 1995, according to national juvenile court data, out-of-home placement rates among delinquency cases were somewhat similar by age, although the rate among 17-year-olds was not declining as much as the rate for younger youth. After 1995, placement rates for 17-year-olds remained relatively stable while rates among youth ages 16 and younger continued to fall sharply. Among adjudicated cases and adjudicated cases involving person offenses, the difference was marked. Juvenile courts today use out-of-home placement less often than before for youth under age 17.

The Record – North New Jersey


Hackensack and Paterson assaults are not part of ‘knockout game,’ police say

August 21, 2014
by Abbott Koloff

After a man in his 60s was beaten by a group of teenagers in Pat­erson on Wednesday night, a city councilman said it looked like an example of a supposedly trending national game called “knockout.” Fears that the game, blamed for at least one death in New Jersey, had taken root locally were fanned earlier in the week when a lone assailant randomly punched three people in separate incidents in Hackensack. …

At the same time as the Hoboken assault, a flood of national ­stories appeared about the knockout game, according to Jeffrey A. Butts, a head researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Butts said the stories indicated a heightened interest by the media but not necessarily a rise in the number of incidents, which he said are rare.

[ read article ]

The Debt Penalty

Evans, Douglas N. (2014). The Debt Penalty – Exposing the Financial Barriers to Offender Reintegration. New York, NY: Research & Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.

Financial debt associated with legal system involvement is a pressing issue that affects the criminal justice system, offenders, and taxpayers. Mere contact with the criminal justice system often results in fees and fines that increase with progression through the system. Criminal justice fines and fees punish offenders and are designed to generate revenue for legal systems that are operating on limited budgets. However, fines and fees often fail to accomplish this second goal because many offenders are too poor to pay them. To compound their financial struggles, offenders may be subject to other financial obligations, such as child support payments and restitution requirements. If they do not pay their financial obligations, they may be subject to late fees and interest requirements, all of which accumulate into massive debt over time. Even if they want to pay, offenders have limited prospects for meaningful employment and face wage disparities resulting from their criminal history, which makes it even more difficult to pay off their debt.
debtpenalty_graphicAn inability to pay off financial debt increases the possibility that offenders will commit new offenses and return to the criminal justice system. Some courts re-incarcerate offenders simply because they are unable to settle their financial obligations. Imposing financial obligations and monetary penalties on offenders – a group that is overwhelmingly indigent – is not tenable. States often expend more resources attempting to recoup outstanding debt from offenders than they are able to collect from those who pay. This report explores the causes and effects of perpetual criminal debt and offers solutions for encouraging ex-offender payment.


logo_jfThis report was prepared as part of the R&E Center’s partnership with Justice Fellowship. The mission of Justice Fellowship is to reform the criminal justice system so communities are safer, victims are respected, and offenders are transformed. Justice Fellowship operated as an independent organization until 2001, when it became a department within Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Discussing Evidence-Based Policy and Practice

logo_jjieThe Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org) hosted a Google Hangout (online live chat) between the director of the R&E Center, Jeffrey Butts, and Cynthia Lum from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University. The conversation covered a number of topics, including the nature of evidence-based practices, how programs or practices become evidence-based, and forces that often complicate the connections between evidence and practice.

Who Chooses the Evidence Base?

Baltimore Sun


Baltimore’s New Curfew Takes Effect Friday

Unsupervised children must be indoors as early as 9 p.m.
by Yvonne Wenger and Colin Campbell
August 7, 2014

Baltimore’s new curfew — among the strictest in the country — takes effect Friday amid mixed reaction, with some parents saying it could help keep youths safe and experts noting that there’s no evidence that it will.

… Researchers say there is no evidence to suggest that curfews reduce crime or keep children safe. For instance, a study of crime statistics from 1980 to 1996 in California cities with youth curfews found no correlation between curfews and crime by or against juveniles.

Jeffrey A. Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the argument that a curfew is necessary to protect children is “convenient” but not rooted in fact. Governments have child welfare laws for safety, he said, and officers can intervene when necessary without needing a curfew law to step in.

Butts said Baltimore’s law is not only strict, but confusing because of the way it changes based on a child’s age and the time of year.

“It’s more coverage than I have seen most cities do,” Butts said. “It sounds not only comprehensive but complicated, which means kids will lose track of it.”

[ read article ]

Statement of Jeffrey A. Butts to the New York Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice

banner_img1In 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo established the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice and charged it with producing a plan to raise the age at which juveniles are charged as adults in New York criminal courts. The Governor described current policies that send all 16-year-olds to criminal court as “outdated.” The director of the R&E Center, Dr. Jeffrey A. Butts, spoke at a July 29, 2014 hearing before the members of the Commission.

[ read statement ]