- Report Published -
|The Operation and Impact of Juvenile Corrections Services in Virginia|
|Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission|
|SJR 263 (Regular Session, 1995)|
|Senate Joint Resolution No. 263, passed during the 1995 General Assembly session, requested the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to conduct a comprehensive review of the State's juvenile corrections system. The first phase of the study, completed in 1996, focused on the court processing activities of the juvenile justice system.|
This report provides findings from an assessment of the performance of the State's juvenile correction facilities, which are managed by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The review included an assessment of the impact of these programs on juvenile recidivism. As a part of this study, JLARC staff reviewed program files and criminal records for almost 1,000 juvenile offenders who received rehabilitation services at one of the six juvenile corrections facilities in the State or through various residential or community programs.
Our analysis of this system in the second phase of the review has resulted in two key findings. First, the results of the State's attempt at reducing future delinquency among juvenile offenders through structured programs of treatment have clearly fallen short of the expectations of the public and the General Assembly. Specifically, almost seven out of every ten juveniles who receive juvenile correction services are rearrested in a short-time period. Furthermore, no particular treatment setting appeared to be more effective than another in reducing recidivism.
Second, while the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Correctional Education have made a number of changes that have improved juvenile corrections, some long-standing problems and weaknesses in the system still persist. Chief among these are:
• facility overcrowding that has been exacerbated by poor population management practices and the continued institutionalization of a significant number of non-serious offenders; and
• a fragmented, under-funded, and outdated system of rehabilitation that is ill equipped to address the needs of the juveniles in the State corrections centers.
This report makes recommendations to address these shortcomings, as well as weaknesses in long-range planning and program oversight.