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Basic services, 2017

  • Overall

    Locally operated

  • Detention

    Locally operated

  • Probation

    Locally operated

  • Reentry

    State operated

Arkansas operates 14 secure detention centers, administered by county judges or sheriffs. Community supervision is administered through local judicial agencies across 28 judicial districts.

The Arkansas Division of Youth Services, a state executive social and human services agency, administers commitments to state public facilities and aftercare services for youth leaving those facilities.

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Arkansas Division of Youth Services administers commitments to state juvenile corrections facilities as well as aftercare services for youth leaving those facilities.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is not allowed in Arkansas' juvenile correctional facilities. Solitary confinement is permitted when a juvenile poses danger to himself or others. Administrative authorization is required for room restriction over 8 hours.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Release decisions for youth committed to the Arkansas Division of Youth Services are the responsibility of the Division. Committing courts may review a commitment and recommend release but the Division has final approval. Committing courts are not required to be notified of a youth's release.

Risk assessment, 2017

Organization 2013 2017
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

In Arkansas, juvenile probation is administered locally through judicial districts. State statute requires the administration of a risk assessment tool by the court. Arkansas recently adopted the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) statewide to structure traditional probation decision-making. Prior to implementing the SAVRY statewide, local courts made decisions regarding which risk assessment to use, if any. 

Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used
Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening tool used
Screening not required

Arkansas encourages the use of standardized mental health screening for any youth eligible for Medicaid and receiving behavioral health services through the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS).The policy is supported in statute, but a specific instrument is not named. DBHS has selected the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ) as the instrument of choice. The instrument is paid in part through Medicaid reimbursement and matched by the State General Fund.

Legislation has been proposed at time to encourage standardized mental health screening in detention. However, there is currently no policy in place and practice varies across locally operated facilities. The same is true for court services/community supervision. No separate all-inclusive policy exists at admission or intake. However, youth in these systems that are Medicaid eligible receive the YOQ screening described above.

The Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Services (DYS) operates services for delinquent youth committed to DHS custody. Upon commitment to DYS, youth are provided a battery of psychological and educational evaluations through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Program for Adolescent and Children Evaluation (UAMS-PACE). This is the same evaluation afforded children and youth entering foster care and the UAMS-PACE team has access to past treatment screening and assessment history through the committing juvenile court. All of the UAMS-PACE battery of assessments require specialized training and represents a clinical assessment process in contrast to standardized screening. The policy is outlined in DYS Operations Manual and assessment capacity is funded through the DYS general operating fund.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

Arkansas supports the implementation and proliferation of evidence-based programs and practices (EBPs) in the juvenile justice system through the Department of Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services. DHS/DBHS writes grants to help expand research based prevention and intervention and currently provides training and technical assistance for implementing specific EBPs. The state currently does not apply a specific definition for evidence-based programs and practices and the commitment that occurs in practice is not readily apparent in statute or the state 3-year juvenile justice plan. Similarly, there currently is no statewide descriptive information or sourcebook for EBPs or publicly reported implementation and outcome data.

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.



Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services (DYS) reports recommitment rates for youth in correctional facilities. Recommitments include all juveniles who have previously been committed to DYS and received another order of commitment during the fiscal year.

Data sources

Division of Youth Services Arkansas Child Welfare Report Card
Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Youth Services

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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