Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Wendy Kliewer


The goals of the present study were to examine federal and selected state legislation for reentry initiatives within the juvenile justice system using content analysis, including determining if bill language utilized terminology reflecting research or developmental science. Thematic analysis was used to examine publicly available federal documents focused on juvenile justice reentry to understand how policymakers were promoting reentry initiatives. Federal bills and documents from April 1, 2008 to December 31, 2019 and state bills from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019 for Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Missouri, Maryland, New Jersey, Kansas, and Georgia that referenced juvenile justice and reentry were reviewed. Federal documents revealed four main foci, centering on financial support, providing resources, the person, and a need for systemic change. Findings showed that enacted legislation has not employed the use of developmental terminology in bill language but did utilize research language. Additionally, enacted legislation was broadly reentry focused, addressing system efficiencies and educational improvements, but largely did not remove individual barriers justice-involved youth face. There was a dearth of legislation at the state level and a very small percentage of enacted legislation at the federal level, with only 4.7% of reentry bills moving through the legislative process. Policy and research implications are discussed in relation to future research being more person-centered as well as using more concise, precise language when providing policymakers with research outcomes for legislative initiatives.


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