Juvenile Probation

Michael Hartman 5/11/2021

Man talking to a teenager

Juvenile probation is a form of community supervision that may include reporting to a supervisory officer, participating in behavior-change programming, paying victim restitution, being tested for drug use or other conditions. Failure to follow these conditions can result in a probation violation, which may lead to additional conditions, incarceration or other sanctions or incentives to modify behavior.

Although the number of cases adjudicated delinquent that resulted in probation declined 59% between 2005 and 2018, youth continue to be placed on probation every year. In fact, between 2005 and 2017, probation was the most common outcome for delinquency cases that received a sanction, according to “Characteristics and Trends of Delinquency Cases Resulting in Probation,” published by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Nearly 150,000 juveniles were adjudicated delinquent and placed on probation in 2018.

But what did probation entail for those juveniles? NCSL has partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to create a first of its kind, comprehensive online statutory resource of juvenile probation laws.

The Juvenile Probation Scan (the “Scan”) was designed to provide policymakers the information they need to examine and address juvenile probation policy. The Scan compiles the juvenile probation statutes of the states in an easily accessible format and provides explanation and comparative analysis of the many aspects of juvenile probation, including the process, the organization of services, the responsible branch, diversion, probation officers and many more. To supplement the Scan, NCSL’s criminal justice program assembled a work group of legislators and legislative staff with specialized knowledge of the juvenile justice system. The work group provided input on the organization of the Scan and the “Juvenile Probation Scan Briefing Paper,” which serves as a spotlight summary of information that is most important to legislators who have experience in the juvenile justice field. For ease of use, the Scan was split into the three sections described below.

Support for this project was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Additional Resources