Juvenile probation has been termed the "workhorse of the juvenile justice system." Probation is a mechanism used by juvenile justice agencies at many different points in the system. It serves as a sanction for juveniles adjudicated in court, and in many cases as a way of diverting status offenders or first-time juvenile offenders from the court system. Some communities may even use probation as a way of informally monitoring at-risk youth and preventing their progression into more serious problem behavior. With such varied uses, there is no doubt that probation touches large numbers of juveniles. For example, probation was ordered in 53% of the 920,000 delinquency cases that received a juvenile court sanction in 2010, compared with 12% that received placement in an out-of-home facility.
Our knowledge about the number of juveniles on probation and the nature of their offenses has been limited to information based on the juvenile court's use of probation. To broaden the knowledge base, OJJDP is currently funding a study that will collect data to create useful, valid, reliable estimates of the number of juveniles on probation at a specific point in time (much like the information we have on juveniles in corrections), as well as information about the types of services and programs offered by juvenile probation offices. The Census of Juveniles on Probation is currently being conducted for OJJDP jointly by Westat and the National Center for Juvenile Justice. The Census of Juvenile Probation Offices is set to begin data collection in 2014.
This section provides basic information about juveniles on probation, based on juvenile court dispositions. As results from OJJDP's new study become available, more information will be added.
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