Institutionalization is often linked to failure. While necessary for youth who pose serious public safety risks, the overwhelming majority of justice-involved youth can be safely supervised and treated in the community or in non-secure facilities. These youth do not belong in a state’s most expensive and secure settings.
The best systems working towards reform have embraced community-based alternatives to institutionalization as a way to improve the life chances of juveniles in the justice system. Using tools such as risk assessment and sentencing guidelines, jurisdictions are able to distinguish between youth who pose risks to public safety and those who would be better served in less-restrictive settings.
Principles of Reform
- Reduce Institutionalization
- Maximize Youth, Family and Community Participation
- Improve Aftercare and Reentry
- Create Smaller Rehabilitative Institutions
- Recognize and Serve Youth with Specialized Needs
- Create a Range of Community-Based Programs
- Ensure Access to Quality Counsel
- Reduce Racial Disparity
- Keep Youth Out of Adult Prisons
Each National Juvenile Justice Network member embraces the nine principles of reform, and conducts state-based work on at least one principle. These principles and the associated text are from “A Blueprint for Juvenile Justice Reform,” developed by the Youth Transition Funders Group.