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South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice  

The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has ultimate responsibility for the implementation of judicial dispositions for the state juvenile population. Programs include community placement, probation, parole, and incarceration. The Department operates 43 county offices, 5 resident facilities and 3 reception and evaluation centers to handle almost 30,000 cases per year and a resident population of approximately 2000 juvenile offenders. Prevention and early intervention efforts include school programs, camps, and individual, group and family activities.

In response to a 1995 federal court order, the Department, with the guidance of the State Budget and Control Board, developed a set of recommendations for correcting certain conditions existing in its resident facilities. The State Budget and Control Board had initiated a process for developing the recommendations. As a parallel effort the Budget and Control Board engaged IMS Quantum to develop an Integrated Planning Model of the Department’s activities to act as a supplemental decision-making tool.

The model showed how referrals are generated within the juvenile population. At each point of the judicial process dispositions of cases were reflected. At each stage of the model, inflows and outflows connected the various dispositions, showing how populations in the various programs are built up from initial referrals to the juvenile justice system through time. Resources utilized in each departmental function were developed to allow the evaluation of caseloads, facility utilization, and program management effectiveness.

The most important finding as model development progressed was that annual statistics were of little use in understanding the way in which these populations were built up through time. Recidivism, for example, is not an annual, recurring independent phenomenon, but a function of an offender’s experience through time. It became clear from the “tight logic” of the model that some form of longitudinal data was necessary. Interestingly, DJJ information professionals had come to the same conclusion independently.

Although the Integrated Planning Model was a preliminary effort to evaluate the usefulness of such an approach, it did point out the power of the methodology to develop plans whose justification arose out of a complex set of conditions.

 
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