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New York State Juvenile Justice: Statewide Collective Impact Reform

Case Overview

FSG worked with a group of leaders across the New York State juvenile justice system to develop a vision for reform and a collective strategy to improve outcomes for youth and communities across the state. Click here for Case study and Video >

The Challenge

The New York State (NYS) juvenile justice system is comprised of myriad state, county, and city-level organizations and agencies, each of which is governed and guided by numerous policies and procedures at both state and local levels. As a result, system actors struggled with coordinating their efforts and delivering on the system’s dual responsibilities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating young people. Recidivism was a major problem in NYS, where by some estimates more than 60% of youth were rearrested within two years of release from state custody. The NYS system inadequately ensured the safety of detained youth and system professionals, and was the subject of a lawsuit for brutal conditions of confinement.

Meanwhile, the State was facing severe budget cuts in the wake of the 2008 recession. Therefore, it had become more critical than ever to improve the system’s effectiveness and efficiency. Realizing that the major contributing factor to poor outcomes to date was the lack of alignment among key agencies and stakeholders, NYS juvenile justice leaders engaged FSG to help them develop a statewide vision for reform and a strategy and implementation plan to deliver on that vision.

Approach & Solutions

FSG was engaged by a Steering Committee comprised of key senior leadership from city, county, and state agencies; private organizations (e.g., voluntary agencies, Legal Aid); the advocacy community; law enforcement, and the judiciary with the idea that improving outcomes for youth and for communities at large required a coordinated, strategic effort by multiple actors working toward a shared vision and common goals.

FSG began by conducting interviews with an extensive set of stakeholders, collecting and analyzing available data on system performance, and benchmarking effective practices within NYS and across the nation. Over the course of the engagement, FSG worked with the Steering Committee and a set of working groups to help develop strategies, goals, metrics, and critical next steps toward creating a more effective system.

FSG facilitated a three stage process that included:

  1. Developing a vision and gathering additional perspectives and data from around the state
  2. Developing a detailed strategy and implementation plan
  3. Facilitating implementation and building internal staff capacity to drive action forward in an ongoing way

About the New York State Juvenile Justice System

The New York State juvenile justice system is comprised of a highly complex network of public and private agencies, organizations, and courts. As a result of this process, a Strategic Planning and Action Committee was formed, co-chaired by a member of the judiciary and the Deputy Secretary for Public Safety. This group is charged with leading and overseeing implementation and driving reform forward.

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