System change strategies seek to alter the basic procedures, policies, and rules that define how a juvenile justice system operates to address DMC. Because such strategies aim to transform the system itself, they have the potential for producing pervasive, fundamental, and lasting change in a system’s ability to respond effectively to minority youth (OJJDP, 2001:37). These strategies are especially critical in jurisdictions where factors influencing minority overrepresentation may be embedded in the cultural, policy, procedural, and legislative framework of the juvenile justice system.
Although system change strategies can be tremendously powerful and enduring, they can be challenging to implement for at least two reasons. First, system change often requires coordination among a variety of youth-serving organizations, including child welfare, education, health, and juvenile justice agencies, that may not be accustomed to coordinating and collaborating with each other. Second, some personnel may not understand the need for change and may strongly resist it. Many may be cynical about change or doubt that effective means exist with which to accomplish major system change. Others in the system may perceive that proposed changes could undermine values that they hold dear or go against the way they believe things should be done. In addition, different system components may have conflicting goals that pit them against each other.
Generally, when a jurisdiction initiates a DMC-related system change, it examines the rules by which its juvenile justice system operates to determine if any policies, procedures, or laws place minority youth at a disadvantage. Elements that the jurisdiction may have to review include the following: existing sentencing guidelines, diversion guidelines, minimum standards for equitable treatment and processing of juvenile offenders, detention risk assessments, probation classification systems, release criteria, factors considered in judicial waiver cases, and state and local statutes. Types of system change that can influence DMC include:
Administrative, Policy, and Procedural Changes
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