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Remove Youth From Facilities

Reduce Institutionalization

Institutionalizing young people must be the choice of last resort, reserved only for those who pose such a serious threat that no other solution would protect public safety. Incarcerating youth disrupts their positive social development and exposes them to negative behaviors. Youth should never be placed in a facility solely because of their family situation or social service needs.

The overwhelming majority of justice-involved youth can be served, and the public kept safe, by community-based services that align with the best practices in the field. Placing youth in large group confinement facilities is not justified from the perspective of treatment effectiveness or the prevention of future recidivism. In those infrequent instances in which youth must be removed from their family and community, that removal should be for as short a time as possible, and only as a last resort. The facilities in which they are held should be:

  • humane;
  • developmentally appropriate;
  • culturally competent;
  • geared towards positive youth outcomes;
  • close to their families and neighborhoods;
  • small; and
  • home-like in orientation. 

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Principles of Youth Justice Reform



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.