Glossary

Definitions

Acquittal: Judgment of the court that a person is not guilty of the offense(s) for which he or she has been tried.  The judgment is made by a jury or a judicial officer.

Adjudicate: To settle a case by judicial procedure.

Adjudication hearing: Stage in juvenile court proceedings in which arguments, testimony, and evidence are presented to determine whether a youth actually committed the alleged offense.

Aftercare: Control, supervision, and care exercised over youth after they leave community-based programs or are released from juvenile facilities.  Aftercare may include probation, counseling, and enrollment in a community program, or other forms of treatment.  Aftercare services are designed to support young people's return to their families and communities and to lessen the chance that they will get in trouble again.

Alternatives to Detention: Alternative Services provides to a juvenile offender in the community to avoid placement in a detention (secure or non-secure) facility (see definition for detention facility).

Antisocial behavior: A pervasive pattern of behavior that displays disregard for the violation of rights of others, societal mores, or the law (such as irritability, consistent irresponsibility, lack of remorse, failure to conform to social norms, etc.).

Best practice: Strategies and programs demonstrated through research and evaluation to be effective at preventing or intervening in juvenile delinquency.  Best practice models include program models that have been shown, through rigorous evaluation and replication, to achieve target outcomes.

Case rate: Number of cases disposed per 1,000 juveniles in the population.  The population base used to calculate the case rate varies.  For example, the population base for the male case rate is the total number of male youth age 10 or older who are under the jurisdiction of juvenile courts.

Child abuse: Behavior directed toward a child by an adult that harms a child's physical or emotional health and development.  Child abuse includes four major categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.

CHINS or CIN: Commonly used abbreviation for "child in need of supervision"; (Also referred to as PINS or "person in need of supervision").

Classification: Process through which the educational, vocational, treatment and security needs of a youth offender are determined.

Commitment: Action of a judicial officer ordering that a young person who has been alleged or judged to have committed an offense be placed in a particular kind of confinement or community residential program.

Community Assessment Center (CAC): An integrated case management system that provides youth with a single 24-hour centralized point of intake and assessment to ensure the provision of appropriate and unduplicated treatment services.  CAC’s use a collaborative approach that leads to more integrated and effective cross-system services for juveniles and their families and are designed to divert youth from a path of serious, violent, and chronic delinquency.

Compliance: In order to receive its full fiscal year allocation of Formula Grants program funds, a state must first demonstrate compliance with Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO), Jail Removal, Sight and Sound Separation, and Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC).    Compliance with the first three core protections is demonstrated through data provided in the state’s annual Compliance Monitoring Report.  Compliance with Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) is determined by information provided in the State’s Comprehensive Three-Year Plan and subsequent Plan updates.

Compliance Monitoring Report: OJJDP’s Formula Grant regulation requires states to submit information regarding compliance with Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO), and Jail Removal, Sight and Sound Separation requirements annually.  This information is submitted through the Compliance Monitoring (CM) report.

Correctional facility: Any public or private residential facility with construction fixtures or staffing models designed to physically restrict the movements and activities of juveniles or other individuals that is used for placement, after adjudication and disposition, of any juvenile who has been adjudicated as having committed an offense, or any other individual convicted of a criminal offense.

Court referral:  A complaint or petition filed with the juvenile court.

Cultural competency: The ability of service agencies to understand the world view of clients of different cultures and adapt practices to ensure their effectiveness.

Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO): A Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) core protection that prohibits juveniles who have been accused or adjudicated for an act that would not be a crime if committed by an adult (status offenders), or juveniles not charged with an offense and who are dependent or neglected children (non-offenders) or alien juveniles to be detained or confined in secure detention or secure correctional facilities.

Delinquent offense: An act committed by a youth that would be a crime if committed by an adult.  Examples include assault, burglary, or possession of illegal drugs.

Dependency case: A case in which neglect or physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of a young person by a parent is alleged.

Dependent: A legal term denoting a young person who is alleged to have been neglected or physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by a parent and has come to the attention of the court.

Detention: Temporary confinement of a youth alleged to be delinquent pending pretrial release, juvenile court proceedings, or disposition.

Detention Facility: A secure pre-dispositional/post dispositional public or private facility (local or regional) with construction fixtures or staffing models designed to physically restrict the movements and activities of juveniles or other individuals that is used for the placement, adjudication, and disposition of any juvenile that has been adjudicated of having committed an offense, or any other individual convicted of a criminal offenses.

Disposition: The decision reached concerning a young person's case.  Examples include, but are not limited to, a juvenile court judge's decision to dismiss the case or to order a young person to participate in a drug treatment program or perform community service.  Juvenile court case dispositions fall into the following categories:

  • Dismissal: An order of the court disposing of a case without conducting a trial of the issues.  Dismissal may occur when there is a finding of insufficient evidence to bring the matter to trial, when no more decisions or actions are anticipated, or when the case is already being handled by another court.
  • Placement: Removing a youth found to have committed an offense from the home and placing him or her elsewhere for a specified period of time, such as in a juvenile or other facility.
  • Probation: Placing a youth found to have committed an offense under the supervision of the court.  During probation, the young person must maintain good behavior, not commit another offense, and meet any other conditions the court may deem appropriate to impose.
  • Probation before judgment: Placing a youth found to have committed an offense on probation before the judge makes a final decision.  Successful completion of the probation period results in a complete dismissal of the charges without any finding of involvement by the young person in the offense.
  • Transfer or waiver to adult criminal court: Transfer of a young person's case to a court normally used to try adults for violations of criminal law, such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary, or distribution of illegal drugs.  A juvenile's case usually is transferred to adult criminal court because of the serious nature of the alleged offense.
  • Other: A youth found to have committed an offense may be given a disposition other than a commitment or probation, such as requiring participation in a drug abuse treatment system, payment of fines, or performance of community service.

Disposition hearing: Hearing held after the adjudication hearing in which the judge determines the disposition of a young person's case.

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC): A core requirement of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) that directs States to address juvenile delinquency prevention and system improvement efforts designed to reduce, without establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas, the disproportionate number of juvenile members of minority groups who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

Diversion: Channeling young people into programs as an alternative to processing their cases through the juvenile court.  A youth, for example, might be referred to a community service program to perform volunteer work to "repay" the community.

Drug testing: Examination of a person's urine samples to determine the presence or absence of certain drugs.

Emancipation:  Independence of a minor from his or her parents before reaching age of majority (18).

Emotional abuse: Verbally mistreating or withholding positive emotional support from a child.  Emotional abuse involves an adult speaking to a child in ways that are intended to demean shame, threaten, blame, intimidate, or unfairly criticize the child.

Family functioning: Interactions with family members that involve physical, emotional, and psychological activities.

Formal processing: Cases that appear on the official court calendar in response to the filing of a petition, complaint, or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate youth as a delinquent, status, or dependent child or to waive jurisdiction and transfer youth to criminal court for processing as an adult offender.

Formula Grants: The Formula Grants Program, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), provides grants monies to States and territories that support State and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts and juvenile justice systems improvement.

Gang (youth gang): A youth gang is commonly thought of as a self-formed association of peers having the following characteristics: three or more members, generally ages 12-24; a gang name and some sense of identity, generally indicated by symbols such as clothing style, graffiti, and hand signs; some degree of permanence and organization; and an elevated level of involvement in delinquent and/or criminal activity.

Gender specific services: Services designed to promote healthy attitudes, behaviors and lifestyles, and promote social competence in girls.  Key program elements generally address issues in the context of relationships to peers, family, school, and community.

Goals: Broad statements (i.e. written in general terms) that convey a program’s overall intent to change, reduce, or eliminate a specific problem.  They also identify the program’s intended short and long-term results.

Graduated sanctions: A graduated sanctions system is a set of integrated intervention strategies designed to operate in unison to enhance accountability, ensure public safety, and reduce recidivism by preventing future delinquent behavior.  The term implies that the penalties for delinquent activity should move from limited interventions to more restrictive.

Grant: An award of financial assistance the principal purpose of which is to transfer a thing of value from a Federal or State agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States (see 31 U.S.C. 6101(3)).

Group home: A non-secure program in which a group of young people live and receive services at the program facility under the supervision of adult staff.  Group homes emphasize family-style living in a homelike atmosphere.  Although many youth living in group homes are ordered there by the court, group homes may also house abused or neglected youth who are placed there by social service agencies.

Hearing: A court proceeding to decide on a course of action or to determine a young person's involvement or noninvolvement in an offense.  Arguments, witnesses, and evidence are heard by a judicial officer or administrative body in making the decision.

Holistic or wraparound services: In the wraparound service approach, a team of professionals from different disciplines works with a young person and his or her family to offer services that meet their specific needs.  The team also may work with the family in a location that is comfortable for the family, for example, at their home or at the young person's school.

Intake/arrest: Action of taking a youth into police custody for the purpose of charging him or her with a delinquent act.  The juvenile justice process often begins with an investigation by a police officer, either because he or she observes a delinquent act being committed or because such an act is reported.  The police officer will generally take one of three actions at intake or arrest: (1) release the youth to his or her parents with a warning or reprimand, (2) release the youth to the parents under the condition that the youth enroll in a community diversion program, or (3) keep the youth in custody and refer the matter to the juvenile court's intake officer for further processing.

Intake decision: Recommendation made by the juvenile court's intake officer to either handle the case informally or schedule the case for a hearing in juvenile court.

Intake hearing: Early stage in juvenile court proceedings in which an intake officer decides to either handle the case informally or schedule the case for a juvenile court hearing.

Intake officer: An official who receives, reviews, and processes cases in which a young person is alleged to have committed an offense.  The intake officer can recommend either handling the case informally or scheduling the case for a hearing in juvenile court.  The intake officer may also provide referrals for juveniles and their families to other community agencies.

Interstate Compact on Juveniles: An accord signed in 1955 between all State governments that regulate how States handle youth who have committed a status or delinquent offense and are picked up by police outside of their home State.

Intervention: Programs or services that intended to disrupt the delinquency process and prevent a youth from penetrating further into the juvenile justice system.

Jail Removal:  A Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) core requirement that prohibits juveniles from being detained or confined in any jail or lock up for adults.

Juvenile: A young person at or below the upper age of juvenile court authority, as defined in the local jurisdiction.  In most States, young people age 18 or younger fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

Juvenile court: A court with authority over cases involving individuals under a specified age, usually 18 years.

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA): Congress enacted the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) (P.L. No. 93-415, 42 U.S.C. & 5601 et. seq.) in 1974 and reauthorized the majority of its provisions in 2002.  The JJDPA mandates the States comply with the four core requirements to participate in he JJDPA’s Formula Grant Program.  This legislation established the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to support state and local efforts to prevent delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system.

Mandatory release: Release from an institution required by law when an individual has been confined for a period equal to his or her full sentence minus time for good behavior, if any.

Mediation: An alternative to a court proceeding in which a neutral person assists two or more people to resolve a conflict and reach a solution acceptable to all sides.

Medicaid: A Federal program that provides funds for medical services for people with low incomes.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): An interagency agreement whose purpose is to enable all parties to facilitate the conduct of certain efforts of mutual interest.

Mental Health Disorder: Any clinically significant psychological syndrome characterized by the presence of distressing symptoms, impairment of functioning, or significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or loss of freedom.  The concept does not include deviant behavior, disturbances that are essentially conflicts between the individual and society, or expected and culturally sanctioned responses to particular events.

Mentoring: A process in which the mentor serves as a role model, trusted counselor, or teacher who provides opportunities for development, growth, and support to less experienced individuals.

Needs Assessment: Systematic process to acquire an accurate and thorough picture of a youth’s strengths and areas of vulnerability.  The process is utilized to identify and prioritize treatment goals, develop a treatment plan, determine the appropriate level of supervision, and allocate funds and resources for services.

Neglect: Acts that include abandonment, expulsion from the home, failure to seek remedial health care or delay in seeking care, inadequate supervision, disregard for hazards in the home, or inadequate food, clothing, or shelter.

Non-petitioned (informally handled) case: A case decided by juvenile court intake officers rather than through a hearing in juvenile court.

Nonresidential program: Program that provides services to youth who live at home and report to the program on a daily basis or as scheduled.  Young people in such a program require more attention than that provided by probation and aftercare services.  Often the program operates its own education program through the local school district.

Objectives: Well defined, specific, and quantifiable statements of the program’s desired results and they should include the target level of accomplishment, thereby further defining goals and providing the means to measure program performance.

Performance measures/Performance indicators: Particular values used to measure program outputs or outcomes.  They represent the data/information that will be collected at the program level to measure specific outputs and outcomes a program is designed to achieve.  Therefore, they must be developed for each program objective.  There are two types of performance indicators:

  • Output indicators-Measures the products of a program’s implementation or activities.  They are generally measured in terms of volume of work accomplished, such as amount of services delivered, staff hired, systems developed, sessions conducted, materials developed, policies, procedures and/or legislation created.  Examples include number of juveniles served, number of hours of service provided to participants, number of staff trained, number of detention beds added, number of materials distributed, number of reports written, and number of site visits conducted (also referred to as process measures).
  • Outcome indicators-Measures the benefits or changes fir individuals, the juvenile justice system, or the community as a result of the program.  Outcomes may be related to behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, values, conditions, or other attributes.  Examples are changes in the academic performance of program participants, changes if the recidivism rate of program participants, changes in client satisfaction level, changes in the conditions of confinement in detention, and changes in the county level of juvenile crime.

Permanency Plan: A proposal by the juvenile justice system and other youth serving agencies to establish a permanent placement for youth in foster care.  The goal of the permanency plan is to expeditiously secure a safe, permanent place for every maltreated child, either by making it possible for children to return to their own families or by finding safe adoptive homes.

Petition: The formal charging document filed in juvenile court alleging that a youth has committed a status or delinquent offense or is a dependent.  A petition asks that the court hear the young person's case or, in certain delinquency cases, that the court transfer the case to adult criminal court so that the young person can be prosecuted as an adult.
Petitioned (formally handled) case: A case handled through a hearing in juvenile court or transferred to adult criminal court.

Physical abuse: Physical punishment of a child by an adult that is unreasonable in light of the age, condition, and disposition of the child and other surrounding circumstances.

Placement: Removing a youth found to have committed an offense from the home and placing him or her elsewhere for a period, such as in a juvenile facility or group home.

Post disposition: The period following the imposition of a sanction ordered or treatment plan decided upon or initiated in a particular case by a juvenile court.

Premature termination:  Any program participant who fails to successfully complete the programs’ requirements.  Reasons may include: dropping out, relocation, administrative discharge, failure to comply with program rules, etc.

Pre-disposition: The period after the filing of a charge and prior to a sanction ordered or treatment plan decided upon or initiated in a particular case by a juvenile court.

Predisposition investigation: Investigation into the background and character of a young person who has been determined to have committed a delinquent offense.  The investigation collects information that will assist the court in determining the most appropriate disposition.

Prevention: Those efforts that support youth who are “at risk” of becoming involved in delinquent behavior and help prevent a juvenile from entering the juvenile justice system as a delinquent.  Prevention includes arbitration, diversionary or mediation programs, and community service work or other treatment available subsequent to a child committing a delinquent act.

Probation: Placing a youth found to have committed an offense under the supervision of the court.  During probation, the young person must maintain good behavior, not commit another offense, and meet any other conditions the court may deem appropriate to impose.

Probation before judgment: Placing a youth found to have committed an offense on probation before the judge makes a final decision.  Successful completion of the probation period results in a complete dismissal of the charges without any finding of involvement by the young person in the offense.

Program: A specific activity or project funded at the sub-grantee or State level with Formula Grant funds. 

Recidivism: Repetition of criminal behavior.

Relative Rate Index (RRI): The RRI measures the level of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) in a system by comparing the percentage of minority youth at each stage of the juvenile justice system to the percentage of minorities at the previous stage.

Residential program: Program in which youth live on site in program housing.  Residential programs do not have the security fences and security hardware typically associated with correctional or detention facilities.  A residential program, for example, could be located in a converted apartment building or a single-family home.

Runaway or emergency shelter: A center that provides services to address the immediate needs of runaway youth for food, clothing, and shelter.

Sexual abuse: Includes incest, sexual molestation, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and other acts of sexual exploitation carried out toward a child.  Such abuse may be nonphysical, for example, obscene phone calls or indecent exposure, or physical, for example, fondling or intercourse.

Shelter care: Any non-secure public or private facility that provides either (1) temporary placement for alleged or adjudicated status offenders prior to the issuance of a disposition order or (2) longer term care under a juvenile court disposition order.

Status offenses: Behavior that is considered an offense only if carried out by a young person.  Status offenses are handled only by the juvenile court and include the following:

  • Curfew violation: Breaking a regulation requiring young people to leave the streets or be at home at a prescribed hour
  • Running away: Leaving the home of parents, guardians, or custodians without permission for an extended period
  • Status liquor law violations: Violating laws restricting the possession, purchase, or consumption of liquor by minors
  • Truancy: Failing to attend school

Training schools, camps, and ranches: Non-secure residential programs providing services to youth.
Training schools also are known as youth development centers, youth villages, youth treatment centers, youth service centers, or schools or homes for boys or girls.  Camps and ranches generally are located in relatively remote or rural areas.  Camps have structured programs that emphasize outdoor work, including conservation and related activities.  On ranches, youth usually participate in a structured program of education, recreation, and facility maintenance, including responsibility for the physical plant, its equipment, and livestock.

Transfer or waiver to adult criminal court: Transfer of a young person's case to a court normally used to try adults for violations of criminal law, such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary, or distribution of illegal drugs.  A juvenile's case is transferred to adult criminal court usually because of the serious nature of the alleged offense.

Valid court order: Order of a juvenile court judge.  A juvenile court hearing, for example, might result in a young person receiving a valid court order to receive counseling.

Violation of a valid court order: Failure of a status offender to comply with an order of the court, such as to receive counseling.  In such cases, the court may place the child in custody.