Cities Further Juvenile Justice Reform through Information Sharing

Press Release
Press Release

Experts in the juvenile justice field and NLC are developing new resources to support effective information sharing among cities and partner agencies. Cities that effectively share information with partners in the juvenile justice system will more effectively accomplish goals to improve youth outcomes and increase public safety.

Improving Policy Based on Data

NLC has seen more and more cities join other stakeholders in changing policies and practices to hold all youth accountable for offenses with fair, developmentally appropriate responses.  To accomplish this crucial shift, all stakeholders need access to and analysis of comprehensive data about the youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system.

San Francisco applied the vast collection of comprehensive youth and family data in its Shared Youth Database to improve policy decisions. San Francisco developed the database to share information among the juvenile probation agency, child welfare system and mental health treatment providers.

Based on this shared information, San Francisco realized that approximately 2,000 families used about half of the city’s investments in services and supervision to youth involved in the three systems.  The city also saw that those families lived primarily within walking distance of seven street corners around the city. This data analysis helped the city decide to focus services at the community centers near those seven corners, making the best use of its existing resources and improving the lives of those families most in need.

Getting Started with Information Sharing

The Juvenile Law Center, a key partner in the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, recommends that a stakeholder group using shared information to recommend policy shifts take certain key first steps. Each of these steps is described further in NLC’s new City Practice Brief and will be discussed on an upcoming webinar.

  • Map the current status of data collection, sharing, and analysis in the city.
  • Identify which single agency will be the information hub.
  • Address legal limits on sharing confidential information.
  • Establish common definitions for measures of success.

Information Sharing by Local Law Enforcement

Cities have direct access to and control over some of the crucial information about youth involved in the juvenile justice system, including youth accessing city services, neighborhood indicators, and actions by local law enforcement. Police in cities such as Las Vegas, Nev., Gainesville, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz. share information with juvenile justice system partners to help reach reform goals.

Working with partners from the Models for Change initiative, Clark County, Nev., developed a comprehensive Information Sharing Guide that specifically addresses law enforcement data, including data from the Las Vegas Metro Police. Specifically, the guide outlines when law enforcement can share information with a.) the juvenile justice system, b.) schools, and c.) behavioral health providers.

Available Resources

NLC will host a webinar to support city leaders using shared data to craft policy.  Lourdes Rosado, Esq., Associate Director of the Juvenile Law Center, will discuss data priorities for cities and provide model agreements for sharing that data among partners in the juvenile justice system. Register here for the webinar.

Ms. Rosado will use the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Information Sharing Toolkit as a basis for her presentation. This comprehensive, concrete guide is helpful for all parties hoping to use information and data to make better decisions.  Cities can anticipate the release of an updated Toolkit in December 2015.

Another NLC partner, the Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, routinely offers its very successful Information Sharing Certificate Program. This program is an intense training opportunity followed by support for implementation of a Capstone Project by local teams.  

For information about these and other resources, contact Laura Furr, Senior Associate for Juvenile Justice Reform at

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