Pew Gives Assessment of Tennessee Juvenile Justice System to Blue Ribbon Task Force

National research group focuses juvenile justice lens on the Tennessee Department of Children's Services

  1. Last month, Tennessee formed the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice. It's designed to take a comprehensive look at the state's juvenile justice system and will present its findings to the Governor in January 2018. This is the second panel Tennessee has created to examine the juvenile justice system.
  2. The first panel - the Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force - was co-chaired by TN Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and TN Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis) in 2016. This second panel is now tasked with developing policy from the findings of the 2016 task force. You can read its recommendations here:
  3. One outcome of the first task force was to contract with PEW Charitable Trusts to review the structure of Tennessee's juvenile justice system and look at areas such as data collection, effectiveness of probation, and current alternatives to detention. PEW provides free technical assistance to states and counties across the country to improve policy making.
  4. PEW is also charged with helping the task force determine if juvenile justice should be broken off into a separate entity from the Department of Children's Services. Currently, DCS provides both child welfare and delinquency supervision.
  5. But whether the task force ultimately determines that a separate entity for juvenile justice should be created in Tennessee, the Department of Children's Services says it is already taking steps to restructure.

  6. In its full day presentation to the task force, representatives from PEW's Crime & Justice Institute presented data that shows services for children involved in the juvenile justice system are inconsistent across the state.
  7. But according to PEW's survey of DCS staffers who work with juvenile justice-involved youth, what is consistent is the lack of quality and the quantity of diversion services needed to help young clients.
  8. Additionally, a majority of DHS workers overseeing probation for kids felt there were barriers to their clients completing probation.
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