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Unformatted text preview: 1 The Annie E. Casey Foundation Our nation’s juvenile justice systems are poised for a fundamental, urgently needed transformation—and not a moment too soon. Among all of the policy areas affecting vulnerable children and families, juvenile justice has probably suffered the most glaring gaps between best practice and common practice, between what we know and what we most often do. Perhaps because it serves an unpopular and power- less segment of our society—behaviorally troubled, primarily poor, mostly minority teenagers—juvenile justice policy has been too long shaped by misinformation, hyperbole, and political prejudices. The consequences have been both disturbing and costly: Our juvenile justice systems have become littered with poorly conceived strategies that often increase crime, endanger young people and damage their future prospects, waste billions of taxpayer dollars, and violate our deepest held principles about equal justice under the law. These systems affect a wide swath of the U.S. youth population. Nation- wide each year, police make 2.2 million juvenile arrests; 1.7 million A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform 3 The Annie E. Casey Foundation cases are referred to juvenile courts; an estimated 400,000 youngsters cycle through juvenile detention centers; and nearly 100,000 youth are confined in juvenile jails, prisons, boot camps, and other residential facilities on any given night. 1 Young people who penetrate the systems deeply—those who end up confined in locked detention centers and training schools—suffer some of the worst odds of long-term success of any youth cohort in our nation. Over their lifetime, they will achieve less educa- tionally, work less and for lower wages, fail more frequently to form enduring families, experience more chronic health problems (including addiction), and suffer more imprisonment. 2 That’s the bad news. The good news is that over the past 20 years, a growing cadre of scholars, advocates, and hands-on juvenile justice prac- titioners has vastly expanded our understanding of delinquency, as well as system reform. They’ve compiled powerful new evidence on what works in responding to delinquency, docu- mented the harm and waste resulting from ill-informed juvenile justice practices, devised and tested new inter- vention strategies, and begun putting this new knowledge of what works into widespread use. Promising reforms are now underway and expanding in many jurisdictions, and the foundation for deeper and more systemic change has been firmly established. Having been intimately involved in this work, the Annie E. Casey Foun- dation is gratified to report that these combined efforts add up to a compel- ling road map for reform. There is now an increasingly clear route for moving juvenile justice away from counter- productive, dangerous, wasteful, but still commonplace, practices and toward a more effective, efficient, and just approach to addressing adolescent crime....
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- Spring '10
- Speak, Annie E. Casey foundation