Approaches to Prevention and Intervention

Approaches to reducing DMC for violent juvenile offenses must focus on strategies that reduce the flow of cases into or out of juvenile confinement. Flows affecting the cases in juvenile confinement can be conceptualized as exchanges or pathways across three major system levels: confinement including detention and incarceration, the juvenile justice system, and the community (see Figure 16.3). Across these three system levels, there are essentially six different types of pathways that can influence DMC: (a) entry into the juvenile justice system, (b) diversion, (c) entry into juvenile confinement, (d) waivers into the adult criminal justice system, (e) release from juvenile confinement into the community, and (f) release from the adult criminal justice system into the community (see Figure 16.4). The causes of the DMC problem will vary by community and across time in terms of these six pathways.

This poses a challenge for practitioners and other community stakeholders with applying evidence-based practices to DMC because the influential pathways change over time and across communities. What may have worked for one community may not work for a community experiencing a different set of dynamics, or even the same community some years after the initially successful intervention. It may even be the case that the current DMC problem for some communities is the result of previously successful past interventions. McCord, for example, has noted the importance of considering the unanticipated and harmful outcomes of crime prevention programs. Thus, it is imperative that helping professionals consider how the juvenile justice system is functioning as a whole with respect to the DMC problem in their community and evaluate the appropriateness of empirically based practices accordingly.

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