Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal recently proposed new rules that would align juvenile parole responsibilities with the Juvenile Justice Commission (JCC).
“Placing release responsibility entirely with the JJC and those most closely involved with our young people ensures that the focus remains on rehabilitation, personal growth, and fairness – priorities that have made New Jersey a leader in youth justice reform,” said Grewal in a press statement.
The rules would allow parole decisions to be made by those who are actively involved in the day-to-day rehabilitation of youth, arguing those who are most closely involved in the day-to-day progress of said youth would have the perspective necessary for parole decisions.
“The standardized parole processes being put in place by the JJC incentivize prosocial behavior and engagement in rehabilitative programming and increase positive outcomes among youth,” said Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D., Acting Executive Director of the JJC.
Aligning with JCC Tradition, Other States
Grewal noted that by integrating parole release authority within the JJC, it would complete the consolidation of a variety of juvenile justice responsibilities first envisioned when the JJC was chartered.
The proposed rules underscore and reflected upon the Garden State’s commitment to separate systems of justice between adults and youth, according to the state’s Attorney General. Additionally, New Jersey would join 32 other states that placed release authority within their respective youth corrections agencies.
Grewal said the reform as part of a larger effort by the state to reformulate its youth justice systems.
His office cited an 80% reduction in the use of secure detention and a 90% drop in the number of youth of color in the detention center population since the implementation of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI).
JJC’s Team Approach to Decision Making
With expanded authority surrounding parole determinations, JCC implemented a team approach to release decision making.
JJC staff from various disciplines would assess each youth’s behavior and progress before filing reports. These reports would be distributed to various partners, ranging from courts to prosecutors to defense attorneys.
The report and accompanying recommendations regarding parole would be provided to a review panel authorized to make that decision. This would allow for the creation of individualized reentry plans.
The panel panel would require two members of from JJC and one member of the State Parole Board. JJC’s Executive Board voted to adopt rules fully implement the change.