Promoting Positive Development: The Critical Need to Reform Youth Probation Orders

Probation is the most common disposition in juvenile court when youth are adjudicated delinquent. In 2013, formal probation was ordered in 64% of adjudicated delinquency cases.  Though intended to lead youth toward success, unwieldy conditions of probation can lead to technical violations and cause lasting harm in the lives of children, including removal from their communities and incarceration. Probation orders often make it difficult for youth to succeed while on probation, despite the fact that probation agencies are focused on achieving positive youth development and accountability. In some places, youth are required to manage over thirty conditions of probation – a near-impossible number of rules for children to understand, follow, and even recall. Overly broad and unclear orders that are not tailored to the strengths, interests, and challenges of an individual youth can result in significant numbers failing on probation, ultimately leading to costly and unnecessary out-of-home placement. In 2013, 17% of youth in residential placement facilities were being held for technical violations of probation.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Gault Center Publications, Policy Tool, Resource Library
Tags: Adolescent Development, Language, Probation