COMPSTAT for juvenile corrections.

Author:Dempsey, John
Position:Juvenile Justice News - Communication status

As Chad returns from lunch, Jimmy grabs his shirt, spins him around and hits him repeatedly in the face and chest. Chad is a 16-year-old chronic juvenile offender and gang member who recently arrived in secure care. Jimmy is a 17-year-old chronic juvenile offender from a rival gang. A few juveniles circle around the combatants and yell encouragement to one or the other, but most drop to their knees as they are supposed to during any fight or facility disruption. Staff immediately stop line movement and separate the juveniles, while praising those who refused to participate in the melee. Both Chad and Jimmy are taken to separation where Chad is assessed and treated by a nurse for his broken nose, and Jimmy is interviewed by treatment and security staff to find out why he initiated the assault. Jimmy and Chad are later interviewed by the department's gang specialist.

Many juvenile correctional agencies across the nation struggle with the challenge of institutional violence. (1) Indeed, "if a male will ever be involved in violence, adolescence is when it will happen." (2) A typical week within the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC), which houses an average population of 611 males and females in one of four secure care facilities, includes 11 juvenile-on-juvenile assaults and seven juvenile assaults on staff.

Assaults and fights frequently result in injuries to juveniles or staff, and can involve costly medical expenses. Fights disrupt the smooth functioning of a correctional facility and upset the treatment milieu. Unless assaults are handled properly, they can increase juvenile and staff fear, damage the institutional culture, and increase staff turnover. (3)


To address the challenge posed by juvenile assaults, (4) ADJC has adapted a technique from law enforcement known as COMPSTAT. This technique includes:

* Mission clarification;

* Internal accountability;

* Geographic organization of operational command;

* Data-driven identification of problems and assessment of the department's problem-solving efforts;

* Organizational flexibility;

* Innovative problem-solving tec-tics; and

* External information exchange. (5)

Director Michael D. Branham convenes a biweekly Central Office COMPSTAT review of assaults and other safe environment incidents, which include any crime or behavior that would endanger others. Branham ensures that advice is provided by staff from all of the key ADJC areas including top, mid-level and line facility...

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