Balancing Incentives with Sanctions

Too often juvenile delinquency review hearings focus on what the child did wrong and adjusting the sanctions, rather than being a balance between sanctions for less-than-stellar behavior and incentives for following the court’s orders and expectations.

Admittedly, it can be challenging to come up with positive rewards.  Incentives may be as simple as positive words of encouragement and may increase to lifting probation restrictions, decreasing detention time, permission to participate in social activities (even for those on home detention), and gift cards and tickets to events.

Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio, Summit County, Ohio, Juvenile Court has been a national leader in juvenile court innovation, and many of her programs offer both sanctions and incentives.  An example of how this information is shared with the children, as well as the court’s expectations on everything from how to dress, the court staff, sanctions and incentives, and what to bring to court is found in the Crossroads Youth Orientation Manual.

Judge Tucci Tedosio spoke in Indiana in 2012 about rolling out similar innovation programs in both urban and rural counties.  She acknowledged that part of the financial success of these programs in Ohio has relied upon RECLAIM Ohio (Reasonable and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors) to divert funds to the communities to implement speciality juvenile courts and augment community resources.  Indiana does not have a similar program in place as of 2013.

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