The New Juvenile Probation: Lessons from the Frontlines

September 29, 2020

The Stoneleigh Foundation and Columbia University Justice Lab hosted a virtual convening examining cities and counties across the U.S. that have transformed their approach to juvenile probation. 

Probation—almost as old as the juvenile court itself—is today’s most common intervention imposed by youth courts. For most of the history of the juvenile court, youth offenders faced one of two outcomes: out-of-home placement in a congregate care institution, such as a youth prison, or supervised probation, anchored by a set of standard conditions and enforced by escalating sanctions, including incarceration.

Although more humane and effective community-based and in-home supports have become preferred alternatives to institutional placement, probation services and processes remain essentially unchanged. In too many jurisdictions, a substantial proportion of youth are in locked institutions, not for new crimes, but rather for technical violations of the conditions of their probation.

New models of probation are now emerging. These models are informed by the science of adolescent development and by decades of evaluation research. They are community-based, family-focused, and youth-centered. And they are getting much better results.


Stephen Bishop
Senior Associate of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group
Annie E. Casey Foundation

David Muhammad
Executive Director
National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform

Vincent Schiraldi
Columbia University Justice Lab

Kevin Williams
Probation Manager
Pierce County, WA

Patrick McCarthy (moderator)
Stoneleigh Visiting Fellow
Columbia University Justice Lab