Juvenile Justice Issue Brief

Juvenile Justice Issue Brief - The Annie E. Casey...

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Across the nation, juvenile courts and corrections systems are littered with poorly conceived strategies that 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 problematic practices persist even as scholars, advocates, and hands-on juvenile justice practitioners have vastly expanded our understanding of what works (and doesn’t work) in combating delinquency over the past 20 years, as well as how to undertake effective system reform. Indeed, among all of the policy areas affecting vulnerable children and families, juvenile justice probably suffers the most glaring gaps between best practice and common practice, between what we know works and what our public systems most often do on our behalf. The most urgent need is to reduce our wasteful, counterproductive overreliance on incarceration and detention, and instead to redirect resources into proven strategies that cost less, enhance public safety, and increase the success of youth who come in contact with the juvenile courts. Reducing racial disparities and combating abuse in juvenile facilities also require immediate attention. While juvenile justice is largely a state and local responsibility, the federal government can and should make a crucial contribution. Often, states and localities lack the financial resources and technical know-how to reform their juvenile programs and practices, and they have long looked to Washington for guidance. Indeed, since the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was passed in 1974, Washington has often played a vital role in setting minimum standards, conducting and disseminating research on best practices, and providing funding to help states and localities improve their juvenile systems. Unfortunately, in recent years the federal government’s role in juvenile justice has suffered due to inattention and drift. With the landmark JJDPA up for reauthorization in 2009, the Obama administration has an unparalleled opportunity to use the resources and influence of the federal government to jumpstart a long-overdue renaissance in our nation’s approach to adolescent crime. The Annie E. Casey Foundation ISSUE BRIEF January 2009 FEDERAL POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS Restore the capacity of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to serve as a national incubator and catalyst for improving juvenile justice policies and practices. ∗ ∗ ∗ Focus the energy and resources of OJJDP and other federal agencies on crucial and pervasive shortcomings in juvenile justice practice. ∗ ∗ ∗ Improve the juvenile
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Juvenile Justice Issue Brief - The Annie E. Casey...

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