Our justice system has become an enormous maze for youth in trouble with the law. This maze has too many paths in and too few ways out.
Across the country, we see:
- youth sent to detention for non-criminal behavior, like running away and truancy;
- young people expelled from school, or sent to juvenile court because their school lacked counselors, or because school security personnel intervened for minor behavior;
- youth incarcerated in facilities that feel and look like adult prisons, when a community-based option would be better for them and public safety; and
- children and teens transferred into the adult criminal justice system, an inhumane process that exposes youth to physical and sexual assault, and increases recidivism.
Worst of all? We see youth of color treated more harshly than their white peers for the same offenses – a disparate impact that gets worse with each stage of the justice system, from school discipline to juvenile court, from probation to incarceration.
There is no national juvenile justice system. The maze is different in every state. That's why we’re building a movement of state-based leaders to fight for change. Right now, we have 53 member organizations in 43 states, and we're still growing. Our members -- and the alumni of our Youth Justice Leadership Institute -- make change happen in their state legislatures, in the courts, and in juvenile justice systems across the country. The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) serves as their hardware store and on-call specialists: we supply them with information and policy aids, and advise them on strategy, communications, and fiscal analysis.
We know you care about building a fairer justice system for children and teens. Signing up for our newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with the latest developments across the country. We'll keep you up to date on our members' reform victories, NJJN's newest publications, webinars on key reform topics, and send you occasional action alerts so you can make your voice heard in the fight for youth justice.
To sign up, go here. Got a question? Cruise our website, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.