Home News Center Betsy Clarke and Liz Ryan Talk Youth Justice Reform with an International Audience

Betsy Clarke and Liz Ryan Talk Youth Justice Reform with an International Audience

November 29, 2012

Earlier this month, Elizabeth Clarke, president and founder of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Initiative, and Liz Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the Campaign for Youth Justice, had the opportunity to share our nation's juvenile justice reform efforts with an international audience when they attended the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) in London.

"Participation in the IJJO is particularly helpful to U.S. advocates, as it clarifies how quickly reforms in juvenile justice are taking hold in other developed nations," Clarke said. "As advocates, we need to urge the U.S. to follow international human rights law to ensure children in trouble with the law have protections, including jurisdictional boundaries to keep youth out of the adult court and set a reasonable minimum age; use of incarceration as a last resort and for as short a time as possible; and access to counsel at all stages, including interrogation."

Clarke joined a panel with representatives from Washington, D.C., Florida, and Italy in a workshop on youth justice and cost-avoidance. Specifically, Clarke spoke about our nation's shift away from youth justice policies focused on mass incarceration to policies that take advantage of community rehabilitation programs. She also discussed the Redeploy Illinois program, which has cut youth incarceration in that state in half.

Ryan focused her presentation on "Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System," a new policy brief from the Campaign for Youth Justice. Ryan advised the international audience, "Learn from the U.S.' mistakes in juvenile justice system policy, and don't send children to adult criminal court, adult jails and prisons. Don't incarcerate your way out of juvenile crime." Ryan went on to point out, "Not one study has shown that trying youth in adult criminal court reduces their risk of re-offending. All the studies conducted over the last decade show that youth prosecuted in adult criminal court are much more likely to re-offend."

» Read Clarke's paper, "Shifting Away From Incarceration: Fiscal Realignment Strategies to End the Mass Incarceration of Youth in the United States."

» Download Ryan's PowerPoint presentation, Policy Reforms on Youth Justice: Successful Campaigns, Strategies and Tactics.

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