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Reducing Youth Arrests: Prevention and Pre-Arrest Diversion

January 13, 2020

We are at a moment in time when we are collectively rethinking how society treats children. A big piece of this work is harm reduction—stemming the tide of the huge numbers of youth that have been flowing into our justice systems, and the significant overrepresentation of youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ/gender nonconforming youth.Equally important is reorienting society's approach to view issues of youth behavior and welfare through a public health lens instead of a punitive lens—looking at how can we unlock the potential of our youth rather than focusing on locking them up. When society supports youth and provides them with resources needed for positive youth development, such as good health care, housing, education, healthy food, and nurturing relationships, we are setting them on a path for success. However, when policing is heavily concentrated in marginalized communities, leading to frequent stop andfrisks of young people, then we are sending them down a different path—one in which future contacts with police and arrests are more likely.

Creating Meaningful Change in the Relationship Between Law Enforcement and Youth of Color

October 1, 2017

Communities of color have a long-standing history of inequitable treatment by the police in the U.S. In recent years, activists with the Black Lives Matter movement have helped to raise the profile of the destructive treatment of the black community by law enforcement, which includes a long line of police shootings of youth of color – Michael Brown, Jordan Edwards, Jessica Hernandez, Ty're King, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Jesse Romero, Stephen Watts– and many more. While these incidents are nothing new, the ubiquitous use of cell phone cameras is now thrusting them into the public's eye. It is past time to change how police interact with black and brown youth.Data bears out the ugly fact that youth of color are killed by police far out of proportion to white youth. This deeply unequal and fundamentally lethal treatment can be attributed to a number of factors. These factors include the widespread over-policing and racial profiling of communities of color, our country's historic treatment of people of color, and implicit and explicit biases by the police and society that cause police and the court systems to view youth of color as older than they are and more culpable than their white peers. Moreover, the lack of consistent and real accountability for police mistreatment and brutality has led to a continuation of this unjust system. This report presents recommendations for reform and details the reasoning behind them.

Implicit Bias: Why It Matters for Youth Justice

September 1, 2017

Bias against youth of color has deep historical roots in this country with overrepresentation of black youth and disparities in treatment originating with the first juvenile court's inception. The view of youth of color as different and deserving of harsher treatment was intensified in the 1980s with the perpetuation of the "superpredator" myth—that a new breed of brutal youth, commonly viewed as youth of color, were going to terrorize the country. Disparate treatment of youth of color is no doubt impacted by the racism that continues to infect our society—most recently and glaringly represented by the August 2017 demonstration by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. While explicit and structural racism contribute to the widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice systems across the country, a more insidious contributor to this problem is that of implicit bias. This snapshot will provide a brief overview of this issue as well as resources to find more information.

School Discipline & Security Personnel: A Tip Sheet for Advocates on Maximizing School Safety and Student Success

October 1, 2015

Law enforcement and security personnel stationed in schools across the United States – often referred to as "school resource officers" (SROs) — are primarily trained to interact with adults, so children — particularly children with disabilities — risk experiencing lasting and severe consequences if SROs are expected to respond to their behavior. SRO involvement tends to criminalize normal adolescent behavior and disproportionately impacts youth of color, contributing to racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Security personnel and law enforcement should not be involved in any student disciplinary matter – only when there is a genuine threat to school safety.

Community-Based Supervision: Increased Public Safety, Decreased Expenditures

November 12, 2014

As a society, we all want safe neighborhoods and prosperous communities. To achieve these goals, however, we need to redesign our juvenile justice systems.Currently, our juvenile justice system is like a maze that does not have a way to get in and out. A lot of youth, no matter how they enter the juvenile justice system, get on a path that leads straight to secure custody, with no way out. We know that other routes must be made available — like those that lead to mental health services, addiction services, or services that help youth mature into responsible adults — and that these must be made into two-way paths, so that youth can get where they need to go in the most effective and efficient way possible. If we do this, we can improve outcomes, and achieve safer neighborhoods for everyone.A longstanding and growing body of research shows that pre-trial detention and post-adjudication incarceration for youth can have extremely negative ramifications for the youth's ability to get back on the right track. Youth prisons and detention facilities have been shown to be dangerous, ineffective, and unnecessary. Community-based supervision programs for youth both cost less than confinement and provide increased rehabilitative benefits for youth. This brief tip sheet will describe a few fundamental characteristics of community-based supervision programs and will summarize their average costs.

Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform, 2007-2008

January 7, 2009

"Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform" catalogs the wide and impressive array of reforms in the field of juvenile justice that occurred over the last year and a half. Highlighted reforms include newly passed state and federal laws, administrative policy changes, judicial decisions, and new funding allocations. The document also includes a new section, "Promising Commissions and Studies," that focuses on a range of government-sponsored efforts which are frequently the precursors to concrete, instituted reform. Specific reforms included in the publication are the closure of large, harmful juvenile prisons; increase in programs that offer community-based alternatives to confinement; strengthened practice standards for juvenile defenders; and additional procedural and substantive protections for youth in and out of court.

Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform, 2006-2007

December 1, 2007

This booklet provides an extensive sampling of juvenile justice reforms across the country from 2006-2007. The booklet is organized by topic area and includes a state index of reforms.