A Blueprint for Youth Justice Reform

Jan 11, 2016

Each year, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable young people, primarily youth of color, are funneled into the justice system -- a system ill-equipped to meet their needs or foster their development. Study after study has proven that reliance on punishment and incarceration is harmful to young people and is associated with increased rates of reoffending, strained family relationships, lower educational and vocational attainment, and incarceration later in life. This updated report draws upon new research to provide concrete policy recommendations aimed at improving the well-being and life outcomes for young people up to age 25 who are involved in or at risk of entering our nation's juvenile and criminal justice systems.The Blueprint is a call to action to funders, policymakers, community leaders, system stakeholders, advocates, youth and families.
  • Since 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that, given developmental differences, a youth's age, maturity and circumstances should be primary considerations in sentencing.
  • The United States remains far more punitive and less youth development-oriented than other Western democracies in the way it treats young people in trouble with the law.
  • Advocates, policymakers and justice stakeholders play critical roles in promoting youth justice reform and building public awareness and the will to bring about necessary changes. But effective and sustainable reform requires the involvement, leadership and financial support from philanthropy.
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