For the past decade, the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice has used a proven framework for review and analysis to partner with more than 30 state and local jurisdictions to enhance probation department and juvenile justice system performance. This support has resulted in the development of several publications, tools and resources that provide guidance to jurisdictions undertaking such an assessment process.

Probation departments and juvenile justice systems, like a number of other longstanding agencies, function within a framework of statutes, policies and practices that were established over the course of many years. Typically, there has been little time or effort to reflect on that framework to determine how well it is working and whether it functions in a manner that results in the achievement of desired youth outcomes and effective system performance. Further, a culture of doing things “the way we’ve always done them” often permeates daily operations and often undermines changes that incorporate evidence-based practices and the shift to using effective programs and services that positively impact youth outcomes and system performance.

In support of our technical assistance and consultation based partnerships, our primary guiding publications include:

Probation Review Guidebook, 3rd Edition
John A. Tuell and Kari L. Harp (Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, 2019)

Alternative Response Initiative Workbook
John A. Tuell and Kari L. Harp (Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, 2019)

Currently, the RFK National Resource Center is privileged to manage the Dennis M. Mondoro Probation and Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Project through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (FY 18 Second Chance Act Ensuring Public Safety and Improving Outcomes for Youth in Confinement and While Under Community Supervision, Award #2018-CZ-BX-K002). We are using our publication resources and expert consultants to support planning, implementation, sustainability and measurement in six competitively selected jurisdictions:

Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada
Fairfax County (Washington, DC suburban area), Virginia
Lancaster County (Lincoln), Nebraska
Dutchess County, New York
Greene County (Springfield), Missouri
King County (Seattle), Washington

The RFK National Resource Center is also providing ongoing implementation support for adopted recommendations resulting from the completion of the Probation System Review process in:

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
Cobb County, Georgia

The RFK National Resource Center just recently concluded the Probation System Review process in:

Cook County, Illinois
Hennepin County, Minnesota

Our approach ensures that each jurisdiction is able to identify the most critical issues that confront their department and juvenile justice system and is guided through steps to create a carefully tailored work plan to address them. The core elements of such a plan include administrative analysis of program goals, objectives and implementation; probation management, supervision, assignment, monitoring and behavior change practices; intra- and interagency work processes; and quality assurance for system performance and client outcomes. The Probation System Review is an exciting opportunity for the principals and partners involved in the management, day-to-day operations and functions of a probation department to assess how they are doing in relation to their goals and objectives and to devise practical strategies for improved performance and youth outcomes.

Other Resources

The RFK National Resource Center has an active Probation System Reform Practice Network which features innovative leaders still active in contributing to successful PSR practices across the United States. Many of these Practice Network members have and continue to serve as active mentors for jurisdictions exploring system improvement approaches and effective implementation of successful programs and strategies.

The RFK National Resource Center has developed a 1 – 1.5 day Probation System Review Training which provides an opportunity for the leaders of your state or local system to learn about the key areas of probation system practice and policy that must be examined and aligned with national best practices in order to achieve optimal youth and system outcomes. The training, provided in your jurisdiction to maximize stakeholder participation, emphasizes the participation of multi-system stakeholders (e.g., judges, prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, service and treatment providers).

Additional Publication Sources

A Proactive Approach to Self-Assessment in the Juvenile Justice System
Honorable Mark A. Ingram & Kari Harp (National Trends in State Court, National Center for State Courts, 2016)

Letting Go of What Doesn’t Work for Juvenile Probation, Embracing What Does
John A. Tuell and Kari L. Harp (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, June 2016)

Probation Review Implementation: How Best Practices Meet Everyday Practices
Dr. John S. Ryals, Jr. (Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, 2013)

Sustaining the Momentum of Probation System Reform in Jefferson Parish
Dr. John S. Ryals, Jr. (Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, 2015)

Other Tools & Guidance

1. Risk Screening Tool & Risk-Needs Assessment Implementation Checklists (click here to view)

2. Data Planning Exercise – Introduction (click here to view)

Data Planning – WorkGrid (Probation Only) (click here to view)
Data Planning – WorkGrid (Probation/Reentry Continuum) (click here to view)

3. Process Mapping Exercise – Introduction (click here to view)

4. Employee Survey Exercise – Introduction (click here to view)

5. Management, Resource, and Training Exercise – Introduction (click here to view)

Management Practices Meeting – Communications Grid (click here to view)
Inventory of Programs and Services Exercise – WorkGrid (click here to view)
Professional Training Inventory – WorkGrid (click here to view)