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     OJJDP Bridging Research and Practice Project to Advance Juvenile Justice and Safety


OJJDP launched the Bridge Project to translate juvenile justice research into innovative products and dissemination strategies that drive changes in policy and practice. OJJDP and many other organizations, agencies, and academic institutions have long supported a diverse and rigorous portfolio of research in juvenile justice prevention and intervention and system improvements. However, translating research knowledge for non-researchers and promoting widespread implementation of practices demonstrated to be effective remains a challenge. Through the Bridge Project, researchers and juvenile justice professionals are partnering to identify areas in which credible research findings have not been integrated into policy and practice and create tools and dissemination mechanisms that help transform research into action. The project focuses on developing effective dissemination strategies to deliver practitioner-friendly, application-ready products to guide juvenile justice system improvements.

Goals and Objectives:

Working closely with OJJDP, the the Urban Institute (Urban) team is developing resources to advance the application of research and research-based strategies across four primary components of the juvenile justice system: (1) prevention and diversion; (2) community-based alternatives to placement; (3) detention and secure confinement; and (4) reentry.

This project will:

  • Review recently funded OJJDP projects to identify pressing research to practice gaps and poll core stakeholders on needs in research, practice, and training and technical assistance.

  • Develop practitioner-oriented resources, such as briefs synthesizing key findings from data collection activities, web-based toolkits, and other innovative products.

  • Implement strategies to disseminate findings and products and integrate the resources within existing web and training and technical assistance platforms.

For this project, Urban has assembled an experienced, multidisciplinary team of researchers from its Justice Policy Center, core staff from its practitioner-focused Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy and Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, and staff from its strategic communications department. This project team has considerable knowledge of the state of practice-relevant research in juvenile justice and a keen appreciation of practitioners' and policymakers' desire to know both what to do and how to do it.


The first phase of the project will focus on the youth community supervision context with the larger goal of helping probation agencies align their administrative and front-line practices with research on adolescent development. Over the past several decades, developmental research in psychology, sociology, and neurobiology has identified important ways in which adolescents are different from adults in terms of brain function, behavior, and decisionmaking. Research has also identified principles for effectively getting youth back on track toward healthy adult development and has shown that juvenile justice interventions are more likely to be successful if they are responsive to these principles. Despite this, there is a need for guidance on how practitioners can apply these principles in their daily practice.

The project team will:

  • Apply core principles of a developmental approach to the key components of youth supervision.
  • Develop practitioner-oriented, audience-targeted resources designed to shift frontline supervision practices to more closely align with research on adolescent development.
  • Identify and document the drivers behind successful organizational and jurisdictional change using implementation science to guide change at the agency level.
  • Document the project's approach to research translation to create and disseminate a replicable, systematic process for translating principles of developmental science into practice.
  • Implement strategies to disseminate findings and products and integrate the resources within web and training and technical assistance platforms.

Publications and Products:

  • Love, H., Harvell, S., Derrick-Mills, T., Gaddy, M., Liberman, A., Willison, J.B., Winkler, M.K. 2016. Understanding Research and Practice Gaps in Juvenile Justice: Early Insights From the Bridge Project. NCJRS Abstract. NCJ 250489. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

  • Derrick-Mills, T., Winkler, M.K., Harvell, S., Gaddy, M., Liberman, A., Love, H., Willison, J.B. 2016. Bridging Research and Practice for Juvenile Justice: Systematizing the Approach. NCJRS Abstract. NCJ 250490. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

Contact Information:

Jennifer Tyson, Research Coordinator | 202-305-1598

Samantha Harvell, Senior Research Associate | 202-641-7635

Mary K Winkler, Senior Research Associate | 202-833-7200
Urban Institute

Project Snapshot

Project Title: Bridging Research and Practice Project To Advance Juvenile Justice and Safety

Most recent solicitation: OJJDP FY2015 Bridging Research and Practice Project To Advance Juvenile Justice and Safety

Grantee: Urban Institute

Current award start date: October 1, 2015

Anticipated end date: September 30, 2019

Award status: Active

Type of research: Translational research