Juvenile Justice in Rhode Island

The juvenile justice system is responsible for ensuring community safety by promoting the positive development of youth in its care while recognizing that children have different developmental needs than adults.

Juvenile Justice IllustrationAt-risk youth often come to the attention of schools, social service agencies and child welfare systems, which can present opportunities to decrease delinquency, promote healthy development, and prevent future involvement with the justice system.

Risk factors for juvenile delinquency and involvement in the juvenile justice system include association with other delinquent youth, cognitive impairments,academic and learning difficulties, poor parenting, child maltreatment, and high levels of community disorganization and violence. Behavioral research shows that most youth offenders will stop breaking the law as part of the normal maturation process and that adolescents are less able than adults to weigh risks and consequences and resist peer pressure.

Juvenile justice systems have a range of options for monitoring and rehabilitating youth other than incarceration, including probation, restorative justice programs, and evidence-based treatment programs. Alternatives to incarceration have been shown to be more effective in preventing recidivism and more cost-effective. The most successful programs involve families in treatment and promote healthy development at the individual, family, school, and peer levels.

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Factbook Indicators



Special Initiatives

  • Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative 
    The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) works to reduce inappropriate and unnecessary use of secure detention, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and improve public safety. JDAI promotes the vision that youth involved in the juvenile justice system are best served using proven, family-focused interventions, and creating opportunities for positive youth development. In 2009, Rhode Island juvenile justice stakeholders joined in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to become a statewide JDAI site. JDAI in Rhode Island, which is coordinated by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, has focused on reducing unnecessary and inappropriate use of secure confinement, enhancing community-based alternatives to detention, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities.

Additional Resources

Rhode Island

  • The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families is the state agency that oversees child welfare, children's behavioral health, and juvenile corrections in Rhode Island.
  • The Rhode Island Family Court focuses attention on individual and social problems concerning families and children in Rhode Island. Consequently, its goals are to assist, to protect, and if possible, to restore families whose unity or well-being is threatened. This court is also charged with assuring that children within its jurisdiction receive care, guidance, and control conducive to their welfare and the best interest of the state. Additionally, if children are removed from the control of their parents the court seeks to secure care equivalent to that which their parents should have provided.


  • Annie E. Casey Foundation National Data Center – Safety & Risky Behaviors Indicators
    Rhode Island KIDS COUNT contributes data to the national KIDS COUNT Data Center, which is managed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.The national KIDS COUNT Data Center connects you to over four million data points about the well-being of children and families in each state and across the country. You can easily access hundreds of indicators related to health, education, employment and income, child welfare, and many other topics. The Data Center is free and available to all.
  • The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) - Through education, community-building and leadership development, NJJN enhances the capacity of juvenile justice coalitions and organizations in 39 states to press for state and federal laws, policies and practices that are fair, equitable and developmentally appropriate for all children, youth and families involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the justice system.
  • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
    Juveniles in crisis—from serious, violent, and chronic offenders to victims of abuse and neglect—pose a challenge to the nation. Charged by Congress to meet this challenge, OJJDP collaborates with professionals from diverse disciplines to improve juvenile justice policies and practices. OJJDP is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and accomplishes its mission by supporting states, local communities, and tribal jurisdictions in their efforts to develop and implement effective programs for juveniles.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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