Assessing the Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice Reforms: A Closer Look at the Criteria and the Impacts on Diverse Stakeholders



Research to date has taken a relatively narrow view of the criteria by which the effectiveness of juvenile justice sentencing policies are to be assessed. This narrowness is particularly striking given the comprehensive “get tough” reforms that recently have been enacted in nearly every state. Drawing on previous research and an analysis of the potential effects of a recent juvenile justice sentencing reform in Texas, this paper argues for greater attention to conceptualizing and empirically assessing effectiveness broadly, including reference to intended and unintended effects, multiple goals and means, and diverse stakeholders. The argument is sustained first by outlining and discussing these key dimensions and then by empirically illustrating the potential importance of one of these dimensions – diverse stakeholders and their respective interests.