Arkansas works to overhaul juvenile justice system

(AP) _ Judges and youth advocates say that Arkansas' patchwork juvenile probation system needs an overhaul to treat children in the system more fairly.The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that efforts are underway in at least 18 of the state's 75 counties to improve probation and the overall juvenile justice system. The goal is to reduce the number of children in detention.

Judges in some of those counties now use probation to connect youth with community services instead of punishment. The changes were prompted by the Arkansas Supreme Court Commission on Children, Youth and Families.

The commission is working to roll out a statewide use of risk-assessment tools in every juvenile court case. It's also drafting a consistent set of standards for juvenile probation systems that individual Arkansas judges can choose to adopt.

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