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Across the United States, the availability of mental health, substance abuse, and recidivism reduction programs in the juvenile justice system (JJS) varies from none or few to a rich variety of programs. Within the last decade, prison privatization in the adult correctional system has influenced the onset of privatization in the JJS. The differences between public and private sectors in their availability of mental health services and treatment programs to juvenile offenders are understudied. In this article, a secondary analysis of a national census of 3163 juvenile facilities was conducted to determine differences in treatment availability as well as the impact of treatment accessibility on the event of a suicide. Results indicate private facilities more likely to offer treatment services and schedule mental health personnel more frequently. Those facilities reporting family counseling treatment programs were less likely to have reported a suicide event. Policy implications and a review of progress towards improvement in the JJS are presented.


Originally published in Children and Youth Services Review

Volume 33, 804-809