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DYRS Implements New Initiative to Hold Community Youth More Accountable for Their Behavior

Friday, February 17, 2012
New tool holds youth in community accountable for behavior, provides incentives to do well.

(Washington, DC)--In February 2012, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services implemented a new tool to hold youth in the community more accountable for their behavior and to provide them with incentives to do well. The DYRS Graduated Responses system provides agency case managers with guidelines and tools for (1) applying swift, certain, and immediate sanctions to youth who violate the terms of their community release, and (2) providing incentives and rewards to encourage youth to go to school, stay drug-free, abide by the law, and contribute to the community.

DYRS developed the Graduated Responses system in consultation with the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCL P), a public interest law and policy organization based in Washington, D.C. CCLP conducted national research on the most effective methods for guiding the behavior of court-involved youth, and found that using graduated sanctions and incentives together best promotes compliance with rules and progress toward individual goals. The research shows that in order for the responses to be effective, they must be certain, immediate, of the appropriate intensity, fair, and tailored to individual youth.

The Graduated Responses system includes a Sanctions Matrix, which provides ranges of options to respond to youth violations of the terms of community release, and a Positive Behaviors Table, which lists the types of productive youth conduct the agency seeks to encourage. A young person who does not attend school or misses curfew, for example, may be subject to sanctions such as being placed on electronic monitoring or house arrest. On the other hand, a youth who exhibits positive conduct, such as regularly attending work or performing community service, may be rewarded with an iTunes gift card or recognized at an award ceremony. The Graduated Responses system is another DYRS initiative geared towards rehabilitating youth while protecting public safety.