Youth are often better served if involvement in the justice system can be avoided. Most youth age out of delinquent behavior without any formal justice-system intervention. Unnecessarily exposing young people to the juvenile justice system can actually encourage future criminal activity rather than deter it. For many youth entering the justice system, the consequences of a single lapse in judgment can haunt them for a lifetime. Most youth can be held accountable and supported in the context of family and community supports through processes such as restorative justice and social service interventions.
Principles of Reform
- Divert Youth from the Justice System
- Reduce Institutionalization
- Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities
- Ensure Access to Quality Counsel
- Create a Range of Effective Community-Based Programs
- Recognize and Serve Youth with Specialized Needs
- Improve Aftercare and Reentry
- Engage Youth, Family, and Community
- Keep Youth Out of Adult Courts, Jails, and Prisons
Each National Juvenile Justice Network member embraces these principles of reform, and conducts state-based work on at least two principles. These principles and the associated text are from “Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blueprint,” developed by the Youth Transition Funders Group.