Case Study Abstract

This "Innovations in State and Local Government" case begins in January 1983, when Ellen Schall is appointed commissioner of New York City's Department of Juvenile Justice, an agency in upheaval. DJJ was established to detain seven- to fifteen-year-old children between arrest and adjudication. Most of DJJ's charges are held in a 25-year-old secure detention facility called "Spofford," a notoriously violent and dilapidated facility in the South Bronx.The case describes the situation as Schall walks into it. In addition to internal tensions and significant operational problems in every division, the agency has a history of bad press and feuds with City Hall. The department is also struggling with deep-seated racial and class tensions among employees, and with great confusion over its mission. The case ends with Schall planning to speak to a new group of juvenile counselors, trying to articulate her vision for the agency. The case offers students the chance to diagnose the ills of the agency and to chart a strategic course of action. Among the topics for debate: How should Schall go about assembling an executive team? How should she address the confusion over agency mission? What should she do about racial tensions? How involved should she get with the nitty-gritty operational problems of her agency's divisions?

From Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government from CaseWeb. Click here for the full case study from the Kennedy School.

 

Articles about the case

Barron, James.
"Official Seeking Jails to Replace Spofford Center," New York Times, February 25, 1987.

Gilmore, Thomas. and Schall, Ellen.
"The Use of Case Management as a Revitalizing Theme in a Juvenile Justice Agency," Public Administration Review, Vol. 46, No.3, May/June 1986, pp. 267-274.

Schall, Ellen.
"Notes From a Reflective Practitioner of Innovation," in Alan A. Altschuler and Robert D. Behn, editors, Innovation in American Government: Challenges, Opportunities, and Dilemmas. The Brookings Institution Press, 1997. pp.360-377.

Schall, Ellen.
"Public Sector Succession: A Strategic Approach to Sustaining Innovation," Public Administration Review, Vol. 57, No. 1, January/February, 1997.

Schall, Ellen.
"Principles for Juvenile Detention", in Hartman, Francis X. (ed.) From Children to Citizens: The Role of the Juvenile Court. New York: Springer-Verlag. 1987. pp. 349-361.

Teltsch, Kathleen.
"City Juvenile Center ‘Remade' in Bronx," New York Times, September 26, 1986.