NH Public Policy
New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

New Hampshire's Juvenile Justice System 2012

Executive Summary

Date: February 28th, 2013

This paper was designed to provide an analysis of the existing juvenile justice system in the year 2011. For this analysis, the Center conducted three analyses. In the first, the Center sought to understand the characteristics of youth in the juvenile justice system in 2011. Second, the Center documented what data was available in DJJS which might help document trends in service provision and their associated costs. A third task was to determine whether the service provision matched the identified risk factors for NH’s juvenile justice population and how this compares to other states.

Our major findings associated with these questions are described below.

Juvenile crime is declining. Contrary to the popular impression that juvenile crime is on the rise, our analysis suggests that both juvenile crime and the provision of juvenile justice services is on the decline in New Hampshire. Since 2008, juvenile crimes per 10,000 youth have declined from a rate of approximately 437 to below 359 in 2011.

The number of juveniles in the DJJS system is declining. The number of youth in the DJJS system has also been on the decline since 2008. Thus, the demand for services within the juvenile justice system – at least measured by the number of youth involved in the system – has decreased. This reduction in the number of clients could continue into the future because of a decline in the number of children in the state, and as a result of changes in the requirement for filing a CHINS (“children in need of services”) petition, described below. But understanding the relative role of program interventions versus demographic factors on these trends is not possible, given the lack of public data available on critical characteristics of the DJJS system.

Data necessary to understand the effectiveness of the programming, or to understand potential reform efforts, are not publicly available. The Division of Juvenile Justice Services has taken steps to increase the availability of data for decision making, but data on many basic and important characteristics of the system are not publicly available. Basic trends on delinquency and rates of recidivism – arguably the two most important measures of success – are not available to the public. While there is some limited data on the DJJS population and case load, the lack of information on the risk profile of the population served and no tracking of measures of success of each treatment against the overall goals of the juvenile justice program make it very difficult to evaluate the appropriateness of existing resources and programming.

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