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This site was archived January 1, 2018 and is no longer updated.

Community-based alternatives/diversion

Local alternatives to formal processing and incarceration.

Most young people who get into trouble with the law do not need to be formally processed or held in custody. In fact, such measures often do serious damage by disrupting the bonds that connect youth to their families and communities. Unfortunately, the juvenile justice system often errs on the side of formal handling and incarceration. Juvenile facilities are filled with low-level youth who could be safely and effectively managed in other settings. The confinement of low-level delinquents is costly for communities, and doesn’t serve public safety.

The Models for Change initiative worked to advance the health and safety of communities and youth by pursuing approaches to hold young people accountable in the most effective, least restrictive settings of care.

Featured publications

Initiative tools, research, knowledge, and innovations to promote reform

Publication cover Probation System Review Guidebook 2nd Edition
Aug 1, 2016, John A. Tuell and Janet K. Wiig
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative operated for over a decade in nearly 2/3 of the states to create successful and replicable models of juvenile…
Publication cover Juvenile Diversion Guidebook
Mar 1, 2011, Models for Change Juvenile Diversion Workgroup
Programs that divert youth from involvement in the juvenile justice system have become more frequent in response to the growing recognition that such involvement often is not necessary to achieve…
Publication cover Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation
Nov 6, 2012, Gina M. Vincent
The primary purpose of this guide is to provide a structure for jurisdictions, juvenile probation or centralized statewide agencies striving to implement risk assessment or to improve their current…
Publication cover The Comeback States: Reducing youth incarceration in the United States
Jun 18, 2013, National Juvenile Justice Network & Texas Public Policy Foundation
In 2000, a record-setting 108,802 youth were held in detention centers awaiting trial or confined by the courts in juvenile facilities in the United States. In a dramatic turnaround, by late-2010,…

More publications »

Leading organizations

Network partners advancing reforms and providing assistance, lessons, and support

Center for Children’s Law and Policy
(202) 637-0377
Coalition for Juvenile Justice
(202) 467-0864
Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform
(202) 687-1527
Justice Policy Institute
(202) 558-7974
National Center for Juvenile Justice
(412) 227-6950

More contacts »


Supported by

Models for Change was a juvenile justice systems reform initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.