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Monday, April 20, 2015

Preliminary Organizational Plans for the Incoming Director, State Juvenile Bureau.

Preliminary Organizational Plans for the Incoming Director, State Juvenile Bureau.

As the incoming Director for the State Juvenile Bureau, I wanted to spend some time outlining my plans for the Bureau. The goal of every leader should always be to leave his organization better off then when he arrived. I intend to reorganize the Bureau to be better off as far as effectively achieving the goals it was established to accomplish. I know there is some organizational conflict between the Board and the Bureau, and my strategy involves mitigating that conflict, as well as reducing any introrganizational stresses that have arisen. Finally, I will detail the processes we will use to make more efficient decisions; equity, accuracy, consistency with theory, consistency with resources, and making decisions that contribute to future decisions.
My plan is to reorganize the Bureau on a hierarchal basis with a formalized process for participative leadership for each level of responsibility, including the base level of the officer. Every decision should be made by the person who is accountable for that particular responsibility. I plan on being a directive leader. However, decision-making is more effective when all available information, including consequences, has been made available to the decision maker. One issue that we experience is the problem of working within bounded rationality; “judicial officials and probation officers in the juvenile court are required to make numerous decisions about the intake, processing, and disposition of juvenile offenders within limited time frames and with limited information.(Shook & Sarri, 2007, p. 1336) Reducing the problems this issue causes can only happen when the people that will implement the decision have been involved with the process of making the decision. This plan, although autocratic, will allow for an established level of discretion in areas the officers should be knowledgeable in.
Let me define the missions of the bureau so that I can outline my plans for more effective adherence to the goals; Historically, “three mandates were adopted for juvenile justice system and probation interventions in what has become known as the Balanced Approach: to protect public safety, to hold youths accountable for their offenses, and to promote rehabilitation” (Schwalbe & Maschi, 2009, p.358) Furthermore, “ the underpinning of juvenile justice has historically been parens patriae which emphasizes furthering the best interests of the child “ (Lowe, Dawson-Edwards, Minor, & Wells, 2008, p.138). Of course, realistically appraising any organizational situation requires an understanding of the conflicts that organization experiences, both externally and internally. To deal with internal politics I would study and recognize the informal power structures, and attempt to formalize these relations when possible based on expert power and competence.
To understand our extremal conflict, I posit that The Board itself operates from it's own influences;“policy makers and the public demand accountability from these decision makers based on perceptions that juvenile crime is increasing and that, as a result, they need to take a more hard-line approach with youth” (Shook & Sarri, 2007, p. 1336) I feel the need to communicate to the Board that not all juvenile offenses are actually crimes, I would explain to the board about status offenses, and the concept of “aging out of delinquency”, as Holman and Ziedenber contends(2006, p. 6) and finally discuss the severity of mala in se offenses, and the need to protect society from them. I would reassure them that our goals involve recognizing this severity of offense in treatment of juveniles, “particularly those involving whether to incarcerate a youth, involve some judgments about youths level of risk to public safety or reoffending” (Perrault, Paiva-Salisbury, & Vincent, 2012, p. 487). Finally, I would remove some conflict by instituting a policy to identify and remove employees whose partisanship, or interest in “showing up” the Board members, is more important to them then achieving the goals of the bureau.
There are several processes which aid in the efficiency of decision making in the bureau. The first of these is equity, and the understanding that all juveniles are treated the same under the law and due process.. The second process involves the concept of accuracy; “The first crucial step for promoting juvenile justice practices that are consistent with the RNR approach is identification of youths' risk for reoffending and criminogenic needs using a valid, developmentally appropriate risk/needs assessment tool.” (Vincent, Guy, Gershenson, &.McCabe, 2012, p.385) . Since adherence to our goals requires a consistency with theory (as our goals are based on theory), I would require an organization-wide educational program to aid every employee in understanding our goals; it's not necessary to set up a doctoral program, but the basic theory our daily activities and decisions are based on should be an integral part of every officer's knowledge base. Our organizational effectuation also requires consistency with resources and we need to communicate with other agencies and avoid the following type of situation; “These staff groups have little contact with each other except regarding juveniles who drift from child welfare to juvenile justice or in courts in small communities where some of the same persons may be serving both delinquent youth and child welfare clients“ (Shook & Sarri, 2007, p. 1338). Finally we need to make decisions that contribute to future decisions, another way of describing this is by using a cybernetic approach in which “both the process and the outcome should help to improve decision making in the future” (Stojkovic, 2014, p.373).
In conclusion, we are looking forward to a juvenile system in which we accomplish our goals of protecting both the youth of our society and our society itself. We will do this by an established chain of command in which officers use their competence to make recommendations to the system as a whole and to use discretion in their areas of responsibility and competence. Furthermore, we will seek to reduce organizational conflict. Finally, we will set this organization up to improve effectuation in decision-making by recognizing the processes of equity, accuracy, consistency with theory, consistency with resources, and making decisions that contribute to future decisions.


Holman, B.& Ziedenberg, J. (2006),.The dangers of detention: The impact of incarcerating youth in detention and other secure facilities. Washington, D.C. Justice Policy Institute. Retrieved February 15, 2014 from http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/06-11_REP_DangersOfDetention_JJ.pdf

Lowe, N. C., Dawson-Edwards, C., Minor, K. I., & Wells, J. B. (2008). Understanding the Decision to Pursue Revocation of Intensive Supervision: A Descriptive Survey of Juvenile Probation and Aftercare Officers. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 46(3/4), 137–169.

Perrault, R.. Paiva-Salisbury . M., & Vincent, G. . (2012). Probation Officers’ Perceptions of Youths’ Risk of Reoffending and Use of Risk Assessment in Case Management. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 30(4), 487–505. doi:10.1002/bsl.2015

Schwalbe, C. S., & Maschi, T. (2009). Investigating probation strategies with juvenile offenders: The influence of officers’ attitudes and youth characteristics. Law and Human Behavior, 33(5), 357–67. doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1007/s10979-008-9158-4

Shook, J. J., & Sarri, R. C. (2007). Structured decision making in juvenile justice: Judges’ and probation officers’ perceptions and use. Children and Youth Services Review, 29(10), 1335–1351. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2007.05.008

Stojkovic, S. (2014). Criminal justice organizations [VitalSouce bookshelf version]. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from http://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/books/9781305465695/id/ch12-P148

Vincent, G., Guy, L.,Gershenson, B. &.McCabe, P.. (2012). Does Risk Assessment Make a Difference? Results of Implementing the SAVRY in Juvenile Probation. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 30(4), 384–405. doi:10.1002/bsl.2014

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