What follows are brief definitions of key terms or additional information about phrases used in the juvenile justice field. While not exhaustive, these are intended to provide additional information for users of the site.

Adjudication is the court process that determines (judges) if the juvenile committed the act for which he or she is charged. The term "adjudicated" is analogous to "convicted" and indicates that the court concluded the juvenile committed the act.

Dually-Involved Youth
A youth involved in both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system. Known also as “crossover youth.”

Community Service
Community service mandated by the court generally refers to work performed by a youth as a way of repairing the harm his or her actions may have caused the community. In some community service programs, youth earn money to pay restitution to victims.

Crossover Youth
See “dually-involved youth.”

Evidence-Based Practices
Evidence-based practices are standardized treatment programs that have been demonstrated to improve outcomes for youth across multiple research groups. They are programs that have been studied in both research settings and in real world environments and been found in both settings to produce the intended outcome.[1]

Graduated Sanctions for Probation and Parole Violations
The goal of graduated sanctions for youth on probation and parole is to respond swiftly to each violation with a sanction appropriate to the behavior. Sanctions are “graduated” because they become more or less severe, depending upon the seriousness of the behavior. Sanctions are more effective at changing behavior when applied in a timely way; the same is true if their severity is adjusted to fit the seriousness of the crime.

Using graduated sanctions can help to avoid the situation of revoking probation or parole and re-incarcerating youth after one or more minor violations. A graduated approach should also ensure that youth and their families receive services that address their underlying issues.[2]

Out of Home Placement
This refers to the court ordered placement of a young person out of their own home and in the care of a relative or substitute (which may include foster or group home settings). This differs from placement in a secure or locked facility.

When youth in trouble with the law cause victims to suffer financial losses, they are frequently ordered by the court to pay a sum of money to the victim—this is called restitution. It can be difficult for youth to pay restitution, because of being currently incarcerated for their offense, too young to work, not having the skills to get a job, or having difficulty getting a job because of their juvenile record. Youth are sometimes able to earn money for restitution by performing community service.

Risk Assessment
A risk assessment instrument is used to determine a youth’s likelihood of reoffending and not to assess or diagnose mental health issues.

Status Offense
A legal violation that would not be a crime if committed by an adult. The five major types of status offenses are truancy, running away, ungovernability/incorrigibility, violating curfew laws, and violating underage liquor laws. Youth can be charged in juvenile court for status offenses.[3]



[1] Kathy Skowyra and Joseph J. Cocozza, Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System (Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, 2007),; John A. Morris, Stephen Day, and Sonja K. Schoenwald, eds., “Turning Knowledge into Practice: A Manual for Human Services Administrators and Practitioners About Understanding and Implementing Evidence-Based Practices,” 2nd edition (revised), (The Technical Assistance Collaborative and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2010), at

[2] “Graduated Sanctions,” OJJDP Strategic Planning Tool, accessed June 21, 2013, at

[3] 28 C.F.R. 31.304[h]; “Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders Best Practices Database: About DSO,” Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, accessed May 21, 2013,

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