For The Kids or for the Bottom Line: A Case Study of the Proposed Closing the Department of Juvenile Corrections in Arizona

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC) is responsible for the secure confinement of juveniles in the state of Arizona. The agency has existed since 1990, when it was separated from the Arizona Department of Corrections. As of July 2009, 506 juveniles were housed in secure confinement and 488 juveniles from Arizona and 138 from other states were supervised on parole. Total revenues for the agency declined more than $11 million from FY 2008 to FY 2009. The decline in state support coincided with the crisis in the state budget in Arizona, and was an attempt to address the drastic shortfall in revenues. In January 2010, the Honorable Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, announced plans to eliminate funding for the agency. This would eliminate juvenile corrections in the state of Arizona, making Arizona the only state other than Massachusetts (Miller, 1998) to close its secure confinement facilities. The agency has been zeroed out in the Governors 2011 Budget as well as in the House and Senate versions of the state budget. This budget has been signed by the Governor. Under this plan, ADJC will be eliminated as a state agency in July 2011. Juveniles under custody of the state will be returned to their counties of residence and some undetermined tax revenues will be diverted to counties and cities to cover the costs of dealing with these juveniles. This executive and legislative action provides us with a unique opportunity. Natural experiments in criminal justice are rare. The closure of this state agency allows us to examine the organizational process of closing this agency, as well as the impact on the juveniles under its jurisdiction, including those in secure confinement as well as those juveniles on parole. We propose a study plan with five purposes: 1) understand the processes that led to the closure of the agency, 2) understand the responses of local jurisdictions who receive ADJC youth, 3) understand youth outcomes, 4) understand organizational changes, and 5) understand the legal issues involved in transfer of custody from the state to counties. There are significant policy implications to this study. First, the organizational aspects of it are quite important, particularly as many states face dire fiscal pressures and will be closing or curtailing many publicly funded criminal justice activities. Second, this change provides the opportunity to compare rates of re-arrest under different conditions. The proposed one year case study should lay the foundation for a longer follow up study of the youth released back to the community by ADJC."100%
Effective start/end date1/1/118/31/13


  • DOJ-OJP: National Institute of Justice (NIJ): $122,431.00


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