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Addressing the Needs of Youth with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System: The Current Status of Evidence-Based Research

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May 1, 2003


This report summarizes and assesses the state of knowledge about children and youth with disabilities who are at risk of delinquency and involvement in, or who have already entered, the juvenile justice system. By highlighting what is known about addressing delinquency and the diverse needs of this population, it aims to inform policy discussions among policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. The report’s specific objectives are to examine

  • current laws and philosophical frameworks affecting children and youth with disabilities who are at risk of delinquency or are involved in the juvenile justice system;
  • the relationship between disability, delinquency, and involvement in the juvenile justice system;
  • the factors associated with disability and delinquency;
  • current and anticipated delinquency- and disability-related programming targeting children and youth with disabilities who may enter or who are in the juvenile justice system;
  • the effectiveness of prevention, intervention and treatment, and management strategies for reducing delinquency and addressing disability-related needs among this population of children and youth;
  • barriers and facilitators to implementing effective strategies for helping these children and youth; and
  • recommended “next steps” for increasing the scope and quality of knowledge and practice for reducing delinquency among and addressing the disability-related needs of at-risk children and youth with disabilities.

An official website of the National Council on Disability