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 49% of the 601,700 delinquency cases that received a juvenile court sanction in 2015, compared with 11% that received placement in an out-of-home facility.
This section quantifies the flow of cases through the juvenile court system. It documents the nature of, and trends in, cases received and the court's response, and examines race and gender differences. The case processing information is drawn from the National Juvenile Court Data Archive's primary publication Juvenile Court Statistics, which is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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