MS in Criminal Justice Course Insight: 5 Ways Data Is Used in the Juvenile Justice System
The criminal justice system doesn’t just impact adults. In fact, almost 60,000 youths under the age of 18 are incarcerated in juvenile jail or prison systems in America.1 Law enforcement agencies and professionals are tasked with safeguarding the public, which includes taking the necessary precautions to understand, monitor, and prevent criminal behavior and any issues within the juvenile justice system. Study alongside Walden University MS in Criminal Justice students as they explore the ways law enforcement agencies can use data on juveniles with this required reading taken from the online course Special Populations.2
5 Ways Law Enforcement Agencies Can Use Data on Juveniles
- Understand juvenile crime in the community
- Improve information sharing
- Manage deployment of scarce resources
- Identify risk factors for youth victimization
- Inform public opinion on crime and safety
Law enforcement officers collect data on specific crimes in the community for investigative and prosecution purposes by the very nature of their job; however, law enforcement agencies are increasingly embracing a data-informed approach in their overall crime-reduction strategy (Bahney, et al., 2014). There is a movement to become more rigorous about using data to identify crime trends and neighborhood hotspots (Roberts & Lissey, 2013). Advances in automation have supported law enforcement’s ability to understand crime in their communities by demographics such as age and offense (Roberts, 2013). Understanding patterns of juvenile crime in a community can support the law enforcement agency’s strategic plan and tactics and also help community partners develop and support targeted prevention strategies.
Collaboration between law enforcement and juvenile justice agencies is critical to successfully address the risk level and criminogenic needs of justice-involved youth. Information sharing is one of the primary ways that law enforcement contributes to public safety and efficient use of community resources (OJJDP & IACP, 2008). Formal information sharing agreements that allow for a two-way exchange of information between law enforcement and the juvenile justice system support both the primary responsibilities of law enforcement and the mission of juvenile justice. Juvenile justice agencies can share information with law enforcement to inform charging decisions and investigations while law enforcement can provide information that assists juvenile justice system case planning (OJJDP & IACP, 2008).
Law enforcement officers want to respond to youth law violating behavior in a timely and efficient manner, and data is integral to informing responses. In recent years, some communities have developed structured decision making tools to inform officer discretion when addressing a juvenile’s behavior. The officer enters data, such as offense and prior arrests, and the tool provides guidance on the most appropriate response. Some jurisdictions have developed assessment centers where law enforcement can take juveniles alleged to have committed an offense to be assessed by juvenile justice professionals. The data collected through those assessments helps the juvenile justice professional match the juvenile to the appropriate response or service. Such processes are examples of coordinated methods to address juvenile crime and strategically invest resources.
There is evidence that exposure to traumatizing experiences, like community and domestic violence, can have negative lifelong effects on a child. Police are often the first responders to family conflicts or intra-familial violence, and protecting youth from victimization is a fundamental obligation of law enforcement agencies (IACP, 2015). The federal government is investing in improving systems for law enforcement data collections and allowing for more details related to the elements of reported crime, victims, and social context of the crime (Roberts, 2013). Understanding this information and how it relates to youth as victims, offenders, and bystanders can assist law enforcement agencies in identifying training issues relevant to preventing and addressing juvenile victimization in their communities.
When law enforcement agencies demonstrate transparency and accountability by making their data public, either in annual reports or online, it enhances relationships with the public (www.policedatainitiative.org). Seeing the volume and types of crime law enforcement handles in the community contributes to increasing community confidence in their police. Data on juvenile crime specifically can help community organizations identify and address emerging local needs. The impact of transparent law enforcement data is not limited to the local community. Data collected by local law enforcement agencies contributes to the nation’s understanding of juvenile crime and helps policymakers evaluate the needs of their community and guide government policy and investments (Roberts & Lissy, 2013).
Gain the Tools You Need to Improve the Criminal Justice System With a Master’s in Criminal Justice
With Walden’s online MS in Criminal Justice program, you can stay at the forefront of criminal justice issues and practices, both domestic and abroad. Explore media-rich coursework rooted in the trends, challenges, and opportunities that impact the criminal justice field as you develop the skills you need to create and inspire positive change. With Walden’s course-based format, you can choose a General Program or one of eight in-demand specializations—including Cybercrimes, Homeland Security Policy and Coordination, and Public Management and Leadership—and align your program with your criminal justice career goals and interests. Walden’s competency-based option offers a specialization in Public Management and Leadership. And at Walden, an accredited university, you can earn your master’s in criminal justice from wherever you have internet access. Online education gives you the power to take classes at whatever time of day works best for you, allowing you to work full time as you pursue your MS in Criminal Justice.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Criminal Justice program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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