Roundtable: Transforming Juvenile Probation: Perspectives on Reform from Practitioners, Technical Assistance Providers, Funders, and Evaluators
(Crime, Justice, and Drugs)

Thursday, November 8, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Taylor - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Moderators:  Johanna Lacoe, Mathematica Policy Research
Speakers:  Sino Esthappan, Urban Institute, Demecia Wilson, Toledo-Lucas County Courts, John Cookus, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Cody Jewell, Pierce County Juvenile Court

After more than two decades focusing on reforms of pre-trial detention and detention alternatives for juveniles, in 2014 the Annie E. Casey Foundation expanded its focus to include juvenile probation. Probation is the most commonly used disposition in juvenile court, with over 60 percent of cases adjudicated delinquent in 2013 resulting in probation (Juvenile Court Statistics 2013). Recognizing that juvenile probation practice lacked a unified theory of change and instead was based on an adult model of probation that may not be developmentally appropriate or effective for youth, the Foundation set out to explore areas of reform using a different approach. Pierce County, Washington, and Lucas County, Ohio were selected as “probation transformation sites” and received funding and technical assistance to promote reforms that strive for a clearer theory of change within probation and try innovative approaches to narrow the gateway to probation, achieve behavioral change, address racial and ethnic equity and inclusion, and support community and family partnerships. The Urban Institute and Mathematica Policy Research partnered with the Foundation to conduct a process study of the probation transformation sites.

This roundtable features perspectives on lessons learned and insights from probation staff in the two sites and technical assistance providers who supported them, as well as from Foundation staff and members of the evaluation team. The roundtable will discuss:

  • How Pierce County and Lucas County operationalized probation transformation differently, by leveraging local system structures and strengths
  • The role of local and national technical assistance providers and the Foundation in supporting the sites’ efforts and the emerging model of probation transformation
  • Key challenges and lessons learned to inform other jurisdictions looking to reform probation practice
  • Stakeholders’ experiences participating in the evaluation and using evaluation findings to inform practice

Following a moderated discussion by the members of the roundtable, we will encourage interaction with the audience to identify other promising practices and approaches and to discuss future directions for this work. This roundtable should be of broad interest to policymakers, researchers, and funders engaged in system reforms involving multiple stakeholders, research-practice partnerships, and technical assistance, as well as those with knowledge of the juvenile justice system.


Scott MacDonald, Annie E. Casey Foundation Technical Assistance Provider

Kevin Williams, Probation Manager, Pierce County Juvenile Court

Demecia Wilson, Chief Probation Officer, Lucas County

Sino Esthappan, Urban Institute

Johanna Lacoe, Mathematica Policy Research

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