Guiding Principles

As a county-based juvenile justice system, there is a need for a service delivery approach reflective of a collective voice for advancing evidence-based practices and policies, establishing guiding principles, sharing information and resources, and promoting a fair and effective juvenile justice system in our state.

As counties, the Division of Juvenile Corrections, and other entities continue efforts to improve practice in working with youth and their families, we are learning more about what works in redirecting youth, reducing reoffending behavior, realigning existing practices and creating new resources, and improving the skills of state and county staff and community based providers to be more effective with youth.  As part of the “next step” of the What Works, Wisconsin[1] effort, the development of a “learning collaborative” among juvenile justice practitioners, including supervisors, delinquency service managers, state agency leadership, and key advocacy and community stakeholders is supported by various county, state and professional associations.

We believe that a youth’s contact with the juvenile justice system should be rare (only occurring when necessary for community safety and/or youth accountability), fair, and beneficial.  To accomplish these objectives, the Wisconsin Juvenile Justice Network maintains the following principles:

  1. We support a statewide system which protects communities across Wisconsin from juvenile crime, holds youth accountable, and promotes youth competency.
  2. The best juvenile justice system is one which promotes and ensures equity in treatment and services regardless of age, race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, or disability.
  3. Youth, families, and the community are best served by engaging them as active participants in efforts to improve the juvenile justice system.
  4. Systems must work collaboratively to provide the most effective strategies available to meet the needs of youth and their families.
  5. Our daily practice and principles must incorporate research related to trauma-informed care, adolescent development, and brain development.
  6. Each youth’s needs and level of risk to reoffend should be assessed using a validated and objective assessment tool in combination with professional judgment to guide the type and level of services provided.
  7. A strength- based, family- focused approach best serves the youth in our care and the families which support those youth.
  8. The juvenile justice system must be transparent and accountable to stakeholders.
  9. The efficacy of the juvenile justice system should be measured by positive youth outcomes and reduced recidivism.

The Wisconsin Juvenile Justice Network values:

  • Respect for and engagement of youth and families
  • Trained and committed juvenile justice professionals and community partners
  • Community safety
  • Utilization of effective evidence-based strategies and promising practices
  • Fair and equitable treatment of youth and families
  • Continuum of services based on assessment of youth risk and needs
  • Collaboration of effort among providers and stakeholders
  • Prevention of youth involvement in the juvenile justice system
  • Measuring recidivism and positive youth/family outcomes
  • Sharing of ideas, research and resources among juvenile justice partners
  • Information-sharing among youth-serving agencies to facilitate informed decision-making
  • Joining with other systems, including but not limited to child welfare, education, and mental health, to develop a team approach to serving youth.