Juvenile Justice in Mississippi: Status of the System and a Strategy for Change
Group: Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER)
PEER compared Mississippi’s juvenile justice system to a comprehensive juvenile justice system, elements of which were identified by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and PEER’s review of the literature on juvenile justice. PEER made this comparison by conducting interviews with key players at all levels of the state’s juvenile justice system, as well as by reviewing documentation provided by the key players. PEER found that Mississippi’s fragmented juvenile justice system does not equitably provide an adequate continuum of treatment and rehabilitative alternatives, from prevention to transition. The system does not effectively identify and meet the needs of all juveniles in every county because of deficiencies in screening and assessment, case management, wraparound programs and services, and does not always address the equitable treatment of youth. The system’s deficiencies in funding, planning, research and evaluation capacity, and qualified personnel also limit its effectiveness.
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