A report from the National Institute of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that while delays in the juvenile justice system decreased over the 10-year period from 1995 and 2004, they remain above suggested standards.
The median days from referral to disposition dropped to 44 in 2004 from 49 in 1995. These medians exceed the most recent suggested standard of 40 days for released juveniles in 2005. The most lenient standard, suggested in 1989, of 90 days was exceeded by 29 percent of cases in 2004.
As juveniles are not protected under the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, youth justice delays are a regular concern for the Department of Justice. Delays have also tended to reduce the effectiveness of punishments.
The original report submitted to the Department of Justice cited a 1997 study that found that juveniles who were processed through a 12-day “fast track” in the State of Washington re-offended at one-third the rate of a comparison group that went through the standard process.
The report cited “workload, jurisdiction size, case characteristics such as offense type and severity, procedural reasons, management and organization, and the informal norms and values of a court,” as contributing to the delays.
Yet it found through case studies of three Midwestern courts, that a self-correcting culture and technological advancements in information management are effective in bringing down these delays.