Juvenile Justice

A man speaks to a group of young men in orange jump suits

Juvenile justice-involved youth pose a challenge to their community. To address their needs and identify helpful interventions, we collaborate with organizations from diverse disciplines to evaluate juvenile justice programming and improve juvenile justice policies and practices.

Ohio's Behavioral Health/Juvenile Justice Initiative

July 2013 - present

Ohio’s Behavioral Health/Juvenile Justice (BHJJ) Initiative is a diversion program for juvenile justice-involved youth between the ages of 10-18 who experience from mental or behavioral health issues. In lieu of detention, the BHJJ program diverts youth into more comprehensive, community-based behavioral health treatment. The Begun Center provides research and evaluation support for the initiative.

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar (Principal Investigator), Ashley Bukach (Research Associate)

Learn about Ohio's Behavioral Health/Juvenile Justice Initiative

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Drug Court

September 2014 - present

The Begun Center served as a research partner with Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court to enhance the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Delinquency Drug Court programming for youth and families in order to realize reductions in recidivism, incarceration and youth substance use while enhancing family strengths.

Funder: Department of Justice, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar (Principal Investigator), Ashley M. Bukach

Montgomery County, Ohio 

Juvenile Drug Court

September 2017 - present

The Begun Center serves as a research partner with the Montgomery County Juvenile Court to evaluate the SAMHSA/CSAT (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration / Center for Substance Abuse Treatment) funded Juvenile Drug Court Expansion Project and provide data and outcomes relative to court activities and participant success.

Funder: Montgomery County Juvenile Court

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar (Principal Investigator)

Family Treatment Court

October 2016 - September 2020

Funder: SAMHSA - Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar (Principal Investigator)

Mental Health Treatment Court

September 2019 - September 2020

Funder: Department of Justice

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar (Principal Investigator)


July 2013 - present

Ohio provides funding for counties to implement programs designed to divert juvenile justice involved youths from residential services to provide treatment and services in the community that best serve the needs of the youth. The Begun Center serves as a research and evaluation partner to 17 counties across Ohio and provides support and expertise for their Competitive and Targeted RECLAIM projects.

Funder: Ohio Department of Youth Services

Partners: Various juvenile justice systems across Ohio

Research Team: Jeff Kretschmar (Principal Investigator), Fredrick Butcher (Co-Principal Investigator)

Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission

July 2016 - present

Funder: Ohio Department of Youth Services


In 2015 Cleveland was identified as a National Youth Forum City by the US Department of Justice which supported comprehensive planning to develop a comprehensive approach to youth violence prevention. Cleveland developed a plan utilizing a public health framework to focus on high risk youth perpetrators and victims of violence. The Begun Center served as evaluation partner for this approach to youth violence prevention along with several other partners to implement and support efforts to reduce crime and violence in Cleveland.

Funder: Department of Justice

Research Team: Daniel J. Flannery (Principal Investigator), Mark S. Fleisher


Butcher, F. and Kretschmar, J. (2020, February). How Juvenile Justice Systems Must Balance Risk Assessment with Racial Equity. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Butcher, F., Tossone, K., Kishna, M., Kretschmar, J. and Flannery, D.J. (2019, October). Poly-Victimization across Time in Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth Receiving Behavioral Health Treatment. Victims and Offenders, 15(1), 22-42.

Butcher, F. and Boyer, K. (2019, July). Can Ohio’s Approach to School Truancy Succeed While Avoiding Justice System Contact? Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Kretschmar, J. and Tucci Teodosio, L. (2018, November). How Ohio’s Restore Court Focuses on Helping Sex Trafficked Youth. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Kishna, M. (2018, April). How One City in Ohio Reduced Youth Imprisonment. MST Services Blog.

Kretschmar, J., Tossone, K., Butcher, F., and Marsh, B. (2018) Examining the impact of a juvenile justice diversion program for youth with behavioral health concerns on early adulthood recidivism. Children and Youth Services Review.

Tossone, K., Wheeler, M., Butcher, F., & Kretschmar, J. M. (2017). The role of sexual abuse in trauma symptoms, delinquent and suicidal behaviors, and criminal justice outcomes among females in a juvenile justice diversion program. Violence Against Women. doi: 10.1177/1077801217724921

Kretschmar, J.M., Capizzi, A., and Shafer, E. (2017). A Decade of Diversion: Ohio's Behavioral Health Juvenile Justice Initiative. Focal Point, 31, 22-24.

Butcher, F. (2016, October). Why Asking ‘Where’ Matters When Working with Youth Exposed to ViolenceJuvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Kretschmar, J., Tossone, K., and Flannery, D. (2016, June). Patterns of Poly Victimization in a Sample of At-Risk YouthJournal of Child Abuse and Trauma. 

Kretschmar, J., Tossone, K., Butcher, F., and Harris, L. (2016). Validating the Ohio Scales in a Juvenile Sample of Youth With Behavioral IssuesJournal of Child and Family Studies.

Kretschmar, J.M., Butcher, F., Kanary, P., & Devens, R.. (2015). Responding to the mental health and substance abuse needs of youth in the juvenile justice system: Ohio's behavioral health/juvenile justice initiative. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(6), 515-521. 

In the Media

CWRU, City of Cleveland implement new intervention strategies to reduce juvenile crime. CWRU Observer, February 2019.

CWRU study shows juvenile justice diversion programs keep youth from repeating crimes. News 5 Cleveland, August 2018.

New research shows Juvenile diversion programs work, also curb reoffending tendencies. Science CodEx, August 2018.

Memphis' new juvenile center needs to rehabilitate, not merely detain. USA Today via Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal, July 2018.

Case Western Researchers Will Track City's Youth Violence Program. WCPN Sound of Ideas, June 2017

Juvenile Diversion Programs. WCPN Sound of Ideas, February 2017.

Hamilton County juvenile court program keeps kid felons out of Ohio's juvenile system. Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2017.

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Division Lead Prosecutor Will Head Cleveland's New Youth-Violence Program. WKSU Radio, December 2016.

New plan to reduce youth violence approaches it as public health issue. Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 2016

Trauma in Youth. Academic Minute, June 2016.