The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) represents the youth correction chief executive officers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and major metropolitan counties. Since 1994, CJCA has worked to improve youth correctional services and practices by uniting the nation’s youth correctional chief executives and by providing a source of positive support for these leaders.

CJCA was founded with two overarching objectives: to influence the development of juvenile justice policy nationally and to support administrators locally. CJCA is committed to moving youth corrections forward and fulfills its mission to improve systems and practices so young offenders’ lives are improved by their contact with the juvenile justice system and future crime is prevented. CJCA works on three levels to lead and support the field in its work:

  1. At the national level – CJCA continues to serve as leadership and a voice for juvenile corrections by representing the system and issues unique to youths on national boards and organizations and educating federal policy-makers and legislators about juvenile services and needs.

  2. At the state level – CJCA continues to expand its training, technical assistance and mentoring services provided directly to the juvenile chief executive officers in each state so they have the most effective and innovative information and tools to fund agencies, facilities and programs that help youths improve their skills and chances for success.

  3. At the field and practitioner level – CJCA continues to expand its work on several technical assistance and grant projects that provide tools and support to the individuals in most direct contact with young offenders. 


CJCA’s Early Years: 1994 - 1999

CJCA incorporated on July 1, 1994 after Edward Loughran’s proposal to create a formal national organization to unify and support the nation’s juvenile correctional chief executive officers was accepted and the foundation awarded a startup grant of $50,000 for two years.

CJCA was founded in the midst of sweeping juvenile justice policy changes across the country. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention’s 2006 National Report, from 1992 through 1997 all but five states in the country changed laws relating to transfer provisions, making it easier to waive juvenile offenders into the adult criminal justice system. Additionally, 31 states gave criminal and juvenile courts expanded sentencing options and 47 states changed or eliminated confidentiality provisions.[i] The numerous changes to state statutes, along with passage of federal policies such as the Violent Crime Control and Enforcement Act of 1994, exemplify the nation’s sense of urgency during the mid 1990s to curtail rising crime rates by getting tough on violent juvenile offenders. By the late 1990s, there was growing commitment among various stakeholders to building and managing juvenile systems that balance the demands of public safety and offender accountability with the rehabilitation services youths need to prevent future offending.

CJCA’s early years were spent helping its members adjust to and implement new policies, establishing the structure of the organization, learning about members’ needs and launching numerous projects aimed at improving youth correctional services and practices. During the first five years of operations, CJCA launched two major national research and technical assistance projects—Performance-based Standards and the New Directors Seminar—in addition to developing and participating in various education activities aimed at improving youth correctional services and practices such as launching its quarterly newsletter, surveying members on various juvenile justice topics and convening national meetings.



The New Millennium: 2000 - 2004

Despite steadily dropping crime rates, state statutes and the general public attitude toward juvenile offenders remained punitive in nature throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century. However, after the 9/11 attacks, issues like terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq naturally took precedence over adult and juvenile justice issues that had dominated the public’s attention during the previous decade. Because of shifting national priorities, federal juvenile justice funding dropped from $545 million in fiscal year 2000 to less than $360 million in fiscal year 2004.[ii]

During this period, juvenile correctional administrators faced challenges such as vanishing budgets, evidence of high prevalence rates of mental illness among youths in their care, uncertainty about how to deal with increasing numbers of females entering their systems and a large amount of negative media attention related to conditions of confinement. Members turned to CJCA for encouragement and support during these trying times, and CJCA continued to serve its members by expanding existing programs and by developing new activities and projects such as the Mental Health Services Model, the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute (PbS Li) and the annual CJCA Yearbook to advance the vision outlined in its mission.



CJCA’s Continuing Growth: 2005 – 2014

Dissatisfaction with the costliness of the punitive approach to juvenile justice that prevailed in the 1990s, and concerns that the system has lost sight of its founding principles have contributed to an environment that is increasingly favorable for reform efforts.[iii] In 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided in Roper v. Simmons that capital punishment of juveniles is unconstitutional. This landmark decision marked a victory for scholars, child advocates, stakeholders and juvenile justice leaders who have been working to preserve one of the founding principles of the juvenile court that had been eroded by the wave of punitive policies passed during the 1980s and 1990s—that children are fundamentally different from adults and should be treated accordingly. Additionally, recent research shows that public support for rehabilitative services for young offenders is strong.[iv]

CJCA has been working to continue and sustain the youth-focused reform happening across the country by leading the movement to participate in data-driven management of facilities, by collecting and reporting evidence about what works and by engaging in national dialogue about best practices and policy recommendations. In addition to continuing and expanding existing projects, during the past five years CJCA has been developing new projects and activities such as a suicide prevention training curriculum in partnership with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Community-based Standards (CbS) project and the Annual Leadership Conference.

CJCA looks forward to continuing our work to build and enhance juvenile correctional administrators’ capacity to improve services and practices for youths who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.



CJCA Milestones and Significant Juvenile Justice Trends and Events


CJCA’s predecessor, the Juvenile Correctional Leadership Forum, met under a grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to discuss juvenile justice issues and the needs of juvenile correctional administrators.


The juvenile Violent Crime Index arrest rate increased substantially. In 1988 the arrest rate was 326.5 per 100,000 juveniles. By 1994, the rate reached 525.4—61 percent higher than its 1988 level.


All but five states in the country changed laws relating to transfer provisions, making it easier to waive juvenile offenders into the adult criminal justice system. Additionally, 31 states gave criminal and juvenile courts expanded sentencing options and 47 states changed or eliminated confidentiality provisions.


CJCA incorporated on July 1, 1994 after the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation awarded a startup grant of $50,000 for two years.

CJCA established its newsletter, a quarterly publication that provides legislative updates, recent juvenile justice research, upcoming events and information on new projects and best practices in juvenile corrections to its members. Since the first issue, published in the fall of 1994, CJCA has published over 50 issues of the newsletter.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released the Conditions of Confinement study, a report that eventually led to the development of CJCA’s Performance-based Standards (PbS) for Youth Correction and Detention Facilities project.

Geno Natalucci-Persichetti was elected to be CJCA’s first president.

Passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.


CJCA conducted the first Directors’ Survey, which revealed high turnover rates of administrators and reinforced the need for CJCA to become a unifying voice of juvenile correctional chief executive officers.

OJJDP awarded CJCA and Abt Associates, Inc. a $250,000 grant to conduct an 18-month research project developing Performance-based Standards for juvenile correctional and detention facilities.

CJCA held its first annual meeting in Chicago. CJCA continues to organize and host several annual meetings to encourage the exchange of knowledge and philosophies at the top administrative levels of juvenile justice.


Jesse E. Williams was elected to serve as CJCA’s second president.

CJCA launched its first website, the “Juvenile Information Network.” CJCA has maintained a functional website for members and the public for well over ten years. CJCA’s current website facilitates an online community of members and keeps them informed about CJCA events and activities as well as provides news related to the broader juvenile justice field.

CJCA’s PbS Advisory Board developed the goals and guiding principles for performance standards in six areas of facility operations: Justice, Programming, Health/Mental Health, Order, Safety and Security.

CJCA members elected to form committees to take action on members’ priorities. The six original committees were Best Practices, State-Federal Relations, Legislative, Training and Mentoring, Membership and Construction Practices and Issues.

CJCA members focused on refining and focusing the role of the organization’s four regions (Northeast, Midwest, South and West). These geographical areas hold regional meetings to give administrators additional opportunities to collaborate with their peers.

CJCA addressed members’ concerns about overcrowding in their facilities by holding a panel discussion on building new facilities and construction issues at the Winter Business Meeting.


CJCA began collaboration with the National GAINS Center for People with Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System to review, enhance and further develop PbS health/mental health standards.

Federal legislation that would link federal dollars to broader waiver statutes and mandatory graduated sanctions was not acted on by the Senate.

CJCA worked with the Eastern region of the Council of State Governments to address issues and concerns raised by Senate Bill 10, the Violent and Repeat Juvenile Offender Act of 1997.


Alton L. Lick was elected to serve as the third president of CJCA.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to CJCA to strengthen and increase organizational capacity.

After nearly two years of development and field testing, CJCA began implementation of PbS.

An outbreak of school shootings in Oregon, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Virginia brought attention to the prevalence of mental health issues faced by juveniles. CJCA responded to these school shootings by holding a panel discussion on the topic of school violence at its Summer Business Meeting.


CJCA members voted to accept seven position papers on the following topics: privatization, outcome-based investments in juvenile justice programs, juvenile female offenders, waiver and transfer of juveniles to adult systems, aftercare services for juvenile offenders, achieving a balanced approach to justice for juveniles and mental health services for juvenile offenders.

CJCA convened its first annual New Directors Seminar and its first Executive Board Retreat.

CJCA developed and launched the PbS website.

2000 – 2004

Federal juvenile justice funding dropped from $545 million in fiscal year 2000 to less than $360 million in fiscal year 2004.


Mary Ann Saar served as CJCA’s fourth president from spring until fall. Joyce Burrell stepped up to serve as the fourth president of CJCA after Mary Ann Saar left her position.

CJCA conducted the second Directors’ Survey, which revealed that high turnover continues to impact leaders of youth corrections and highlighted the importance of CJCA’s annual New Directors Seminar that offers newly appointed directors the opportunity to learn from, interact and connect with more experienced directors from across the country.

CJCA launched its strategic plan.


CJCA was awarded three substantial grants—two from the MacArthur Foundation and one from OJJDP—to build organizational capacity and to address mental health issues in juvenile justice populations.

CJCA and Policy Research Associates (PRA) co-founded the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) and developed the Comprehensive Systems Change Initiative (CSCI). By integrating research, data, experience and practice, CSCI has helped in the development of a model continuum of mental health services for juvenile justice youths, as well as to synthesize and expand the knowledge base about the nature and prevalence of mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders among youths in contact with the juvenile justice system.

CJCA conducted a survey on gender issues, which revealed that the needs of female offenders are unique but are shared across jurisdictions.

David Gaspar becomes the fifth president of CJCA after Joyce Burrell’s resignation.


CJCA continued to focus on improving mental health services and treatment for youths involved in the juvenile justice system. Connecticut, Georgia and Pima County, Arizona were selected to participate in CSCI.

David Gaspar was elected to serve as CJCA’s president for the 2002-2004 term.

CJCA focused its efforts on leadership development. With guidance from Phil Harris, CJCA’s longtime supporter and consultant, CJCA adopted an action plan that included restructuring meetings to include leadership forums and creating a new committee devoted to leadership development and education.

CJCA’s new website was launched.


The first systematic, large scale study to examine whether youths 15 and younger are competent to stand trial was released. The research, conducted by the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice concluded that many children under 16 had as much difficulty grasping the complex legal proceedings as adults who had been ruled incompetent to go to court. This study supports CJCA’s opposition to the expansion of eligibility criteria for waiver and transfer of youths into the adult correctional system.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was signed into law.

CJCA provided education and technical assistance to members concerning the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) by holding a panel discussion on the topic that included recommendations about practical handling of investigations and suggestions on how to use investigation results to improve and expand services for youths.

CJCA began implementation of CSCI in Connecticut, Georgia and Pima County, Arizona and in three counties in Pennsylvania.

The MacArthur Foundation awarded CJCA two grants to continue providing leadership training for its members and to further develop the organization’s work with NCMHJJ and CSCI.


Mark Steward was elected to serve as CJCA’s sixth president.

CJCA’s PbS project won the prestigious Innovations in American Government from the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University and the Council for Excellence in Government.

CJCA celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The PbS Learning Institute was established.

The annual CJCA Yearbook was launched. The Yearbook presents the results of an annual survey to provide a national picture of juvenile justice agencies. To produce the Yearbook, CJCA collects, aggregates, analyzes and publishes information about each system’s responsibilities, budgets, staff, youths, programs and successful practices reported by juvenile correctional agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


The MacArthur Foundation officially launched the Models for Change juvenile justice systems reform initiative. CJCA was a founding member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change reform efforts, beginning with participation at the early meetings creating the reform strategy, defining model system goals and selecting the states. CJCA serves as a member of the National Resource Bank and works in three counties in Pennsylvania implementing CSCI as part of the reform effort.

The United States Supreme Court decided in Roper v. Simmons that capital punishment of juvenile offenders is unconstitutional.

CJCA expanded the CSCI project to three counties in Pennsylvania as part of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change juvenile justice systems reform initiative.

Howard Beyer was elected to serve as CJCA’s sixth president.

CJCA began working with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) to develop a suicide prevention training curriculum for agency leaders.


CJCA began work collaborating with partner organizations to educate leaders on reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

The first analysis of PbS data was conducted by CJCA’s technology partner, New Amsterdam Consulting, and was presented at the American Society of Criminology’s annual conference. The data revealed that the most effective way to increase safety and decrease violence in facilities is to make sure each youth: understands the facility rules; thinks staff are helpful; perceives the school as good; and spends little or no time in isolation or room confinement.

For the first time since CJCA incorporated, the organization achieved 100 percent membership—all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and three county members joined the organization and paid their annual dues.


PbS Li hosted the first annual awards ceremony to honor facilities and staff who have made out-standing achievements in implementing the PbS system of continuous improvement. The award was named for Barbara Allen-Hagen, the retired OJJDP Program Manager who championed for continued federal funds to develop and implement PbS.

CJCA was awarded substantial funding from OJJDP to support the New Directors Seminar, PbS and the Annual Leadership Conference.

CJCA launched a working group to work toward establishing a consensus for defining and measuring recidivism.

George Sweat was elected to serve as CJCA’s seventh president.


CJCA signed on to recommendations to reform the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

CJCA staff began development of Community-based Standards (CbS), a project that applies the PbS model of performance evaluation in secure facilities to community residential programs for youths involved in the juvenile justice system. The goal of CbS is to establish and sustain systems for continuous improvement and accountability in community-based residential programs across the country.

Bernard Warner was elected to serve as CJCA’s eighth president.

CJCA convened the First Annual Leadership Conference, which focused on reaching national consensus on defining and measuring recidivism rates.

CJCA Executive Director Edward Loughran presented policy recommendations to the Obama administration at a town hall meeting hosted by the American Bar Association.


CJCA celebrated its fifteenth anniversary at the 2nd Annual Leadership Conference in October 2009.

CJCA's Recidivism Committee published a white paper on recidivism measurement.


Tim Decker was elected to serve as CJCA's ninth president.

CJCA convened the 3rd Annual Leadership Conference.

With support from OJJDP, CJCA began working with the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) to launch the National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Youth in Custody.

CJCA’s Yearbook 2010: A National Perspective of Juvenile Corrections was released.


CJCA’s New Directors Seminar was held in conjunction with the Summer Business Meeting in August. CJCA has held this training since 1992 and has trained 88 agency leaders to date.

The first NC4YC workgroup meeting was held in October in National Harbor, MD. The meeting gathered NC4YC partners, scholarship recipients, guest trainers and working group members who engaged in team building activities and contributed to the annual agenda for the NC4YC.

Jane Tewksbury of Massachusetts was presented with CJCA’s Oustanding Administrator Award during the CJCA Summer meeting in Orlando.


CJCA’s Yearbook 2012: A National Perspective of Juvenile Corrections was released.

Mike Dempsey of Indiana was elected to serve as CJCA’s tenth president.


CJCA’s New Directors Seminar was held in conjunction with the Summer Business Meeting in August. CJCA has held this training since 1992 and has trained 100 agency leaders to date

CJCA was  awarded a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to establish a Resource Network for Youth Corrections Leaders and Professionals for the Models for Change (MfC) Legacy Phase.  The first annual Leadership Institute Meeting was held in October in Chicago, Illinois in conjunction with the CJCA Awards Program.

Fariborz Pakseresht of Oregon was named CJCA’s Outstanding Administrator of the Year.  Susan Burke of Utah and Charles Flanagan of Arizona were given the CJCA President’s Award.


CJCA is celebrating its twentieth anniversary and will hold the 20th Year celebration in October in Chicago Illinois on Oct. 2, 2014 in conjunction with the second annual Leadership Institute Meeting.

CJCA’s Leadership Institute Meeting and Awards dinner program will be held Oct. 1-3, in Chicago, IL.



[i] Snyder, H. & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Juvenile Justice Bulletin [Electronic version.] Retrieved October 23, 2008, from http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/nr2006/downloads/NR2006.pdf

[ii] Nuñez-Neto, B. (2007, April 27). Juvenile justice funding trends. U.S. Congressional Research Service.Retrieved October 19, 2008, from www.opencrs.com.

[iii] Piquero, A. & Steinberg, L. (2007). Rehabilitation versus incarceration of juvenile offenders: public preferences in four Models for Change states. [Electronic version.] Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://modelsforchange.net/pdfs/WillingnesstoPayFINAL.pdf

[iv] Krisberg, B. & Marchionna, S. (2007). Attitudes of U.S. voters toward youth crime and the justice system. National Council on Crime and Delinquency [Electronic version.] Retrieved December 4, 2008, from http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/zogby_feb07.pdf