Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blueprint From the Youth Transition Funders Group
By Shannon Kluss, June 05 2012
Detaining Youth Instead of Confining the Problem
The Juvenile Justice Work Group of the Youth Transition Funders Group recently released the third edition of “Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blueprint.” According to the report, 2.2 million juveniles are arrested and 400,000 youth cycle through juvenile detention centers each year. Noting that “50 to 70 percent of youth released from juvenile correctional facilities are rearrested within two to three years,” the report suggests a critical problem exists within the juvenile justice system nationwide.
As part of a movement to view youth incarceration as an option of last resort, The Blueprint outlines this framework:
1.Divert youth from the justice system
3.Eliminate racial and ethnic disparity
4.Ensure access to quality counsel
5.Create a range of effective community-based programs
6.Recognize ad serve youth with specialized needs
7.Build small rehabilitative facilities
8.Improve aftercare and reentry
9.Engage youth, family and community
10.Keep youth out of adult courts, jails and prisons
Reclaiming Futures is highlighted in the report as a successful initiative that has helped divert troubled youth from confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. Founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Reclaiming Futures model helps communities systematically identify and address youth with specialized needs, by connecting them to the proper resources and support needed to address underlying mental health and/or substance abuse issues.
The Blueprints for Violence Prevention project identified other successful models including Multisystemic Therapy (MST), Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC). Each of these models emphasizes the important role of family, is cost-effective and has shown promising results.