To fully address the deinstitutionalization of status offenders (DSO), communities usually need to implement system changes which alter the basic procedures, policies, and rules that define how a juvenile justice system operates. These system change strategies create wide-ranging and long-lasting modifications in policies, procedures, or laws that will decrease and prevent the institutionalization of status offenders.
Although system change strategies can be tremendously powerful and enduring, they can be challenging to implement. 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 for accomplishing major system change. In addition, different system components may have conflicting goals that pit them against each other.
Generally, when a jurisdiction initiates a DSO-related system change, it examines the rules by which its juvenile justice system operates to determine which policies, procedures, or laws are leading, or contributing, to the institutionalization of status offenders. Elements that the jurisdiction may review include existing sentencing guidelines, diversion guidelines, minimum standards for the equitable treatment and processing of status offenders, detention risk assessments, release criteria, and State and local statutes.
See T&TA Request Form to request technical assistance in implementing DSO-related system change activities.
Types of system change that can influence DSO compliance include the following:
OJJDP Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders
Best Practices Database
The OJJDP Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders Best Practices Database was created and developed by
Development Services Group
under Cooperative Agreement #2008-JF-FX-0072.