U.S. Department of Justice, Office Of Justice Programs, Innovation - Partnerships - Safer Neighborhoods
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Working for Youth Justice and Safety
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Evaluation Data

Types of Evaluation Data to Assess Effectiveness at Each of the Nine Juvenile Justice System Decision Points*

Arrest | Referral | Diversion | Detention | Petitioned/charges filed | Delinquent findings | Probation | Confinement in secure correctional facilities | Transferred to adult court

Arrest: Youth are considered to be arrested when law enforcement agencies apprehend, stop, or otherwise contact them and suspect them of having committed a delinquent act. Delinquent acts are those that, if an adult commits them, would be criminal, including crimes against persons, crimes against property, drug offenses, and crimes against the public order.

  • # and % decrease in arrest
  • # and % increase in arrest
  • # and % increase in youth diverted from the JJ system
  • # and % decrease in the youth diverted from the JJ system
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Referral: Referral is when a potentially delinquent youth is sent forward for legal processing and received by a juvenile or family court or juvenile intake agency, either as a result of law enforcement action or upon a complaint by a citizen or school.

  • # and % decrease in referrals
  • # and % increase in referrals
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Diversion: Youth referred to juvenile court for delinquent acts are often screened by an intake department (either within or outside the court). The intake department may decide to dismiss the case for lack of legal sufficiency, resolve the matter informally (without the filing of charges), or resolve it formally (with the filing of charges). The diversion population includes all youth referred for legal processing but handled without the filing of formal charges.

  • # and % increase in youth screened
  • # and % of youth not being screened
  • # and % increase in youth referred to diversion programs
  • # and % of youth not referred to a diversion program
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Detention: Detention refers to youth held in secure detention facilities at some point during court processing of delinquency cases (i.e., prior to disposition). In some jurisdictions, the detention population may also include youth held in secure detention to await placement following a court disposition. For the purposes of DMC, detention may also include youth held in jails and lockups. Detention should not include youth held in shelters, group homes, or other non-secure facilities.

  • # and % decrease in use of detention
  • # and % increase in the use of detention
  • # and % increase in the use of detention alternatives
  • Implementation of a standardized risk assessment instrument (Y/N)
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Petitioned/charges filed: Formally charged (petitioned) delinquency cases are those that appear on a court calendar in response to the filing of a petition, complaint, or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate a youth as a delinquent or status offender or to waive jurisdiction and transfer a youth to criminal court. Petitioning occurs when a juvenile court intake officer, prosecutor, or other official determines that a case should be handled formally. In contrast, informal handling is voluntary and does not include the filing of charges.

  • # and % decrease in the youth with formal petitions
  • # and % increase in the youth with formal petitions
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Delinquent findings: Youth are judged or found to be delinquent during adjudicatory hearings in juvenile court. Being found (or adjudicated) delinquent is roughly equivalent to being convicted in criminal court. It is a formal legal finding of responsibility. If found to be delinquent, youth normally proceed to disposition hearings where they may be placed on probation, committed to residential facilities, ordered to perform community service, or given various other sanctions.

  • # and % decrease in delinquent findings
  • # and % increase in delinquent findings
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Probation: Probation cases are those in which a youth is placed on formal or court-ordered supervision following a juvenile court disposition. Notably, youth on “probation” under voluntary agreements without adjudication should not be counted here but should instead be part of the diverted population.

  • # and % increase in youth on formal probation
  • # and % decrease in youth on formal supervision
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Confinement in secure correctional facilities: Confined cases are those in which, following a court deposition, youth are placed in secure residential or correctional facilities for delinquent offenders. The confinement population should not include all youth placed in any form of out-of-home placement. Group homes, shelter homes, and mental health treatment facilities, for example, would usually not be considered confinement. Every jurisdiction collecting DMC data must specify which forms of placement do and do not qualify as confinement.

  • # and % increase in youth placed in secure facilities
  • # and % decrease in youth placed in secure facilities
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later

Transferred to adult court: Waived cases in which a youth is transferred to criminal court as a result of a judicial finding in juvenile court.

  • # and % increase in youth waived to adult court
  • # and % decrease in youth waived to adult court
  • RRI data at start and RRI data 1 or more years later


* Additional evaluation data for other types of interventions such as technical assistance, training, or system change activities should also be provided as applicable. This data may include the number of people trained, number of trainings developed, number of policies and procedures enacted, etc.

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