Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Chang, Janet


The purpose of this study was to assess practitioners’ views of service needs for juveniles involved with the justice system. In the United States, every year there are thousands of youth committed to detention institutions for delinquent acts. As a result, children as young as nine years of age up until adulthood have a difficult time integrating back into the community. In many instances, youth who have been involved with the justice system have a greater likelihood of recidivism due to their inability to adapt to their environment. Further, when youth enter the system, many times they are not receiving the adequate services necessary to decrease recidivism and in turn are faced with multiple encounters with the justice system and with untreated concerns and additional needs.

This study used a qualitative design, conducting face to face interviews with ten justice involved youth practitioners. Participants were asked to explore areas such as, service utilization, recidivism rates, effectiveness of treatment, and barriers to service utilization. The results identified mental health and substance abuse treatment services as the most important needs of justice involved youth. Themes that emerged as important factors to the utilization of treatment services were meaningful relationships, parental support, and mentorship. This study found inadequacies with the process of assessing needs and services within the juvenile justice system. The results suggest a need for better treatment services and competent practitioners to reduce the likelihood of recidivism.