When children enter any public system, administrators gather a variety of information about them, including health, educational, disciplinary, and criminal records. Because many youth in the child welfare or justice system are involved in more than one system, we must balance the need to share information to benefit both youth and the public with the need to protect against incorrect, inflammatory, or protected information that, if misused, can cause youth significant harm.
Records such as court-ordered mental health screenings, assessments, and directives for treatment, may unfairly influence the prosecution of youth seeking health care services. These records can also stigmatize young people and limit their employment and educational opportunities.
Through a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, Juvenile Law Center worked with colleagues to develop best practices and policies for record and information sharing in the juvenile justice system. We provide technical assistance on information-sharing issues to juvenile justice professionals around the country. We have also published a monograph on how jurisdictions can protect youth from self-incrimination when they undergo a mental health screening, assessment or treatment and have worked with legislators and stakeholders in Indiana and Pennsylvania to pass related legislation.
In partnership with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University, Juvenile Law Center recently launched an Information Sharing Certificate Program in Washington, D.C. The program, supported with funding from the MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change initiative, is designed to enable leaders in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health and other child-serving fields to overcome information sharing challenges that prevent the communication and coordination that is necessary to adequately serve youth known across multiple systems of care.
Last updated January 2013
In 1993, Arizona implemented one of the first online, statewide juvenile probation and dependency tracking systems with the creation of Juvenile Online Tracking System (JOLTS).
Mankey, Jennifer, et al. "Guidelines for Juvenile Information Sharring." National Criminal Justice Reference Service U.S. Department of Justice. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, October 2006. Web. May 2011.
“no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…”
U.S. Const. amend. V.
Approximately 87,000 youth are held in residential detention on any given day.
"Custody Data (1997-Present)." ojjdp.gov. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 22 April 2011. Web. May 2011.
In a study of 29 different detention centers, 65-70% of youth had at least one mental disorder.
Skowyra,Kathleen, and Joseph J. Cocozza. "Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System." National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, 2007. Web. May 2011.