What is it about?

Over the past twenty years, reformers have worked to apply research on adolescent development to juvenile justice law, policy, and practice. To make sure that the gains of this reform movement are maintained and continued, we conducted a threat assessment with a diverse panel of juvenile justice experts to identify and track threats to the reform.

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Why is it important?

Overall, panelists agreed that the developmental reform in juvenile justice was progressing well. Eleven threats to the reform were initially identified, but only three of them manifested five years later. However, racial bias, fragmented efforts of juvenile justice researchers, practitioners, and reformers, and trends in other social systems (like the child welfare system or the behavioral health system) were areas of vulnerability for the reform movement.


There is a clear opportunity for reform-minded developmental researchers to disseminate their findings among juvenile justice policymakers and practitioners. A collaborative effort among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners will ensure that justice-involved children receive developmentally appropriate care.

Caitlin Cavanagh
Michigan State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The developmental reform in juvenile justice: Its progress and vulnerability., Psychology Public Policy and Law, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/law0000326.
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