Home News Center Forum Recap: Building a Collective Vision for Justice

Forum Recap: Building a Collective Vision for Justice

July 30, 2021

Graphic with photo of young person with fist up in the air against the backdrop of a sunset

As advocates steeped in the work, much of our time is focused on pushing back against policies and practices that harm youth.  As we fight to end over policing, abuse in facilities, and close harmful prisons, it is easy to lose sight of what we are fighting for.  So this year, during NJJN’s Virtual Forum, held on July 21, 2021, advocates for youth justice came together to build a collective vision of justice. Using virtual white boards, participants collaborated to imagine a vision grounded in healing, restorative justice and communities where young people have abundant resources to thrive. In this vision, we see a world where: 

Youth and families live in fully resourced communities, with…  

  • Safe and affordable housing 

  • Income equity and family sustaining wages

  • Jobs

  • Healthcare that provides all families access to physical and mental health care services and prioritizes trauma-informed practices and healing

Youth, especially the most vulnerable Black and Brown youth, are free to live out their wildest dreams and their imaginations are enriched by

  • Schools that have equitable funding

  • After school programs, arts and recreation, and mentoring by credible messengers

  • Accessible jobs in their communities 

Children are treated like children, and accountability does not equal punishment. In this vision, we see a roadmap to the elimination of youth court involvement, replaced by…

  • Restorative justice practices

  • Police-free schools

  • Abundant counselors trained and resourced to support youth in trauma and who understand the historical and generational causes of trauma

And until youth court involvement is completely eliminated, certain benchmarks must be met, including…

  • No prosecution of children as adults

  • No prosecution of children under 14

Full investment in resources that help young people believe in themselves and are able to realize their full potential through policies such as…

  • Divestment from police and increased investment in community-based programming and alternatives to incarceration

  • Wrap around services for youth

  • Jails and prisons repurposed for healing trauma, restorative circles and other community uses

In our vision of true youth justice, we see youth having all that they need to thrive as human beings.  And if they do make a mistake, the community is there to offer them healing, not punishment. We know that realizing this vision will require steady and consistent advocacy, meeting benchmarks along the way to our bold vision of a world free from youth incarceration or court involvement. 

Want to help us realize our vision? Join us this October for Youth Justice Action Month. Over the course of the month, we will host workshops on policies we can pursue to create the future for youth we all dream of, while profiling actions you can take to today to effectuate change.

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