The Juvenile Justice System is in Need of Widespread Reform
The system has become overly punitive and relies too heavily on confinement, rather than providing resources to communities so they can better respond to delinquency. In addition, the juvenile justice system treats far too many youths as adults, fails to adequately safeguard the rights and well-being of children, and disproportionately punishes youth of color.
Fortunately, there is growing awareness among legislators, system administrators, juvenile justice practitioners, child advocates, and the general public about the need for reform.
Diverse Leaders Are Needed
While more and more advocates are stepping forward to reform a broken system, advocates and organizers do not appropriately reflect the communities most affected by the juvenile justice system. As a result, reform activities tend to mirror – and may in fact perpetuate – some of the power imbalances, inequities and patronizing approaches that plague juvenile justice systems today and have done so historically.
NJJN believes that those most affected by the youth justice system should be involved in reforming it. In particular, we believe that the perspectives, voices and determination of communities of color, youth and family members are critical to the implementation of any meaningful, successful and durable reform. We developed the Youth Justice Leadership Institute to elevate and support the leadership of those most directly affected, to achieve system reform.