Case Management in Juvenile Justice


Juvenile justice refers to the form of legal justice administered to legal offenders who are minors. These minors may be involved in different forms of criminal activities, which require legal intervention. Jurisdictions across the states of the United States are adapting the case management model to deal with most of the cases. Case management models usually vary from one state to another; however, most of the models have common features, which will help define case management in general. Case management can simply be defined as a method that involves the use of a social or mental health worker who supervises and coordinates the continued social, mental health, medical aspects, and other forms of development of the client under supervision (Healey, 1999, p 1). The client is mostly a criminal offender. The worker supervises the development of the person to help the person follow certain social or legal standards, and regularly reports the development to the relevant authority.

The main goal of case management is to supervise the development of various people to integrate them back to society and ensure that they practice activities, which promote the social welfare of the society. Therefore, case management generally tries to incorporate the mentally ill back into society. In juvenile justice, case management is mainly used to encourage the juveniles to deter from criminal activities. To achieve this, the case management provides the service and support that each juvenile requires to maximize his/her capacity and opportunities to choose positive alternatives to offending behavior (Case management policy, 2003, p 2).

Case management models

The case management models may be broadly categorized into two main types; the strength-based case management model and the assertive-based case management model. Primarily, a strength-based case management model usually evaluates the client’s strengths and talents and comes up with strategies to build on them in the treatment and service plan. Special emphasis is paid to the strengths, which the client has identified himself. In this model, the case manager tries to influence the client to discover for himself his inner strengths and therefore, lead him to act in a way that is socially acceptable to society (Healey 1999 p 2). In the implementation of this model, the case manager first assesses the social attitudes of the client. A client who has positive social attitudes is more likely to respond to this method than a client who has antisocial attitudes.

The assertive case management model entails delivering the services aggressively to the client. In this method, the case manager does not offer the services passively to the client, instead, the manager offers the services aggressively to the client, sometimes even visiting the client at home, job, or even in his community (Healey 1999 p 2).

For effective implementation of case management, the case managers should combine both the assertive and the strength-based case management models. This model should have the following features.

  • Assessing the needs of the clients – the case manager should assess what are the basic needs of the clients. He should ensure that the needs are met to ensure that the client does not repeat the offense.
  • Developing a service plan – based on the understanding of the client the case manager should develop a plan, which helps solve the problem, which the client faces.
  • Linking the client to the appropriate services – the case manager should then ensure that the client is linked to the appropriate services which will ensure that he is successfully integrated into society. The services may include counseling or self-help groups
  • Monitoring client progress – the case manager should then monitor the progress of the client and ensure that he does not revert to the vices, which he used to perform.
  • Advocating for the client as needed – after the individual has undergone all the processes the case manager should advocate for measures that need to be taken based on his understanding of the client (Healey, 1999, p 2).

Problems facing implementation

Among the major problems facing the implementation of the case management system, is the change of the supervisor. The relevant agencies should ensure that one supervisor monitors the development of the client from incarceration, parole to the time he is integrated back into society. This enables the individual to form a bond with the supervisor and the supervisor is, therefore, more likely to influence his actions.

Treatment strategies

The juvenile offenders who are addicted to drugs have a history of addiction or have mental illnesses, thus they need to have programs specially designed to treat their conditions and enable them to be integrated back to society. One of the programs developed for the juveniles is to rehabilitate them while they are still incarcerated. This program is known as an in-prison drug abuse treatment program (DAP) (Anon, 2010, p 67). Treatment is usually given daily in two-hour sessions; the inmates are given treatment measures to help them overcome the issue of drug abuse for 350 hours during the time they are incarcerated.

The other program is the non-residential drug abuse treatment service. This program provides personal and group counseling to people who have are either addicted to drugs or have a history of drug abuse. This treatment is also given to people who were not eligible for the treatment in the in-treatment program or may have had mental problems during the time they were incarcerated (Anon, 2010, p 69).

The difference in the in-treatment and the non-residential programs lies in the fact that in non-residential programs, the individuals have access to many self-help groups, which further help them to overcome the problem of drug abuse (Anon, 2010, p 69).

However, for the juveniles who suffer from drug abuse or mental illness to be cured and integrated back into society, the above programs alone will not help or heal their problems. Other stakeholders must also be involved. These include parents, schools, and even juvenile courts. Parents should ensure that they give the support required to the juveniles, as most of the juveniles mainly result from the drugs due to psychological causes. Schools can help prevent the problem by ensuring they report early cases of the vices to prevent it from further development. Juvenile courts should ensure that the minors who have the problems are not charged together with the other offenders due to the special nature of their offenses.

Delinquency prevention projects

Chicago Area project is an organization, which was founded around 1930 by Clifford Shaw. The organization’s main aim is to prevent and treat delinquency in disorganized communities. The organization aimed at discouraging delinquency by initiating changes in the social ecology of the youth in the area. To achieve this, the organization involved adults who had a clear understanding of the youth (Jason p 22). The people who were involved in this initiative respected the youth and thereby earning their trust. CAP was established to deal mainly with three communities, however, the number has grown so much, and it now covers over 80 communities.

The Boston Mid-city project was started in 1954; the mid-city project targeted the reduction of delinquency among seven gangs in the area. Primarily, the mid-city aimed at reducing juvenile delinquency by strengthening communities and improving family needs (McShane and Williams p 49).

The New York Mobilization for Youth (MFY) was started in 1962. The main aim of the organization was to reduce the number of gangs in the streets by providing opportunities for the youth in the area. The MFY mainly used the street workers to influence the members of the gangs to abandon the gang activities. The MFY propagated activities that led to job training, job placement, subsidized employment, and the establishment of social service programs all of which discouraged the formation of gangs (Gang in New York City, n.d, 16). The MFY also empowered the communities to take action against their problems.


During the initial stages of the implementation of the CAP, there was a reduction in the reduction of the criminal activities of the gangs and a reduction in delinquency. CAP also helped to improve the relational bonds of the communities (Shoemaker and Wolfe, 2005, p 73). However, the success of these initiatives was limited due to the lack of methods to analyze their impacts.


One main factor that inhibited the success of the initiatives is the inability to determine the reasons that led people to join gangs and the reasons that lead to the emergence of gangs.

Another factor that inhibited the success of the initiatives is that legislation did not recognize the activities of these organizations and continued to suppress the gangs or the legislation changes took longer to be effected (Juvenile Justice Bulletin 2000).

In some cases, the activities of the organizations led to the strengthening of the ties, which bind the gang members together. This is seen in the case of the CAP where the use of the detached worker program led to the unintentional increase in the cohesiveness of the gang members. This further led to increased crime by the gangs thereby making the activity to be retrogressive (Juvenile Justice Bulletin 2000).

Another factor that contributed to the reduced success of the organization is the inability to evaluate the effects of the initiatives and determine whether they are the principal reasons that led to the decrease in crime in some of the areas (McShane and Williams, 2003, p 50).


Anon. (2010). Description of drug treatment programs and services. Web.

Case management policy. (2003). Department of Juvenile Justice. Web.

Gang in New York City. (N.d). Justice Policy Institute. Web.

Healy, K. M. (1999). Case management in the criminal justice system. Washington DC: National Institute of Justice. Web.

Jason, L. (1987). Prevention: toward a multidisciplinary approach. NY: Routledge.

Juvenile Justice Bulletin. (2000). Preventing Adolescent Gang Involvement. Web.

McShane, M. D. and Williams, F. P. (2003). Encyclopedia of juvenile justice. CA: SAGE.

Shoemaker, D. J. and Wolfe T. W. (2005). Juvenile justice: a reference handbook. CA: ABC-CLIO.

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