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Deinstitutionalization and Diversion of Juvenile Offenders: A Litany of Impediments

Malcolm W. Klein
Crime and Justice
Vol. 1 (1979), pp. 145-201
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147451
Page Count: 57
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Deinstitutionalization and Diversion of Juvenile Offenders: A Litany of Impediments
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Abstract

Deinstitutionalization and diversion of juvenile offenders have been prominent goals of recent juvenile justice reform efforts. Both are attempts to replace formal, institutional processing with various forms of community treatment. Legislatively mandated, theoretically justified, and responsive to a professional consensus that the conventional juvenile justice system is seriously deficient, both kinds of program enjoy broadly based support. For all that, however, neither program has often been established in accordance with its premises. They have not been meaningfully evaluated and their effectiveness, accordingly, cannot be shown. The words "diversion" and "deinstitutionalization" refer to both ideas and programs. Whether deinstitutionalization and diversion programs truly embody the ideas which underlie them is a critical question in any attempt to evaluate their effectiveness. This essay presents a paradigm for reviewing the degree to which social programs represent the ideas underlying them. It then applies a critical portion of this paradigm, "program integrity," to recent developments in diversion and deinstitutionalization and finds, overall, that neither kind of program has been very effectively implemented. Five specific impediments to proper implementation, along with definitional ambiguities and unintended program consequences, are set forth as the principal reasons for this failure of implementation. None of these impediments is necessarily insurmountable; they are merely unsurmounted to date. Neither diversion nor deinstitutionalization programs can as yet claim success.

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