The National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems is a multi-year effort to advance policies designed to save money, improve public safety, lower recidivism and help young people and their families by keeping youth out of the criminal and juvenile justice system, and increasing access to alternatives to juvenile incarceration.
In the fall of 2010, led by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a Juvenile Justice Funders’ Collaborative supported by 5 foundations, was formed with the goal of funding state initiatives to accelerate policy reforms in state juvenile justice systems. Public Interest Projects, a public charity with a 501 (c) (3) tax status, provided a home for the collaborative. Public Interest Projects launched The National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems and retained M+R Strategic Services (M+R) to help design, staff and manage state campaigns.
Building on the work of local, state and national juvenile justice reformers, the National Campaign invested in 13 stateinitiatives during 2012. Even in today’s political climate, reforming juvenile justice has united groups across ideological and partisan divides to seek safer, more humane and more cost-effective solutions. While efforts varied from state-to-state, all were aimed at improving outcomes for youth and families by:
- Keeping youth out of the criminal and juvenile justice systems;
- Changing how youth are treated to reflect their developmental differences from adults;
- Increasing the availability and access to effective alternatives to detention and incarceration; and
- Saving taxpayers money, improving public safety, and lowering recidivism.
The foundations that make up the Juvenile Justice Funders’ Collaborative include the George Gund Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Sapelo Foundation.
Where We Work
In 2012 the Campaign retained more than 30 campaign coordinators, policy advocates, seasoned strategists, communications professionals, and lobbyists to work with public officials and advocates in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
The Campaign supported initiatives to:
Reduce reliance on incarceration and expand community services for youth
- Louisiana improved the Families in Need of Services process and encouraged alternatives to detention and incarceration.
- Maryland delayed further development of a new juvenile detention center in Baltimore City with the goal of blocking construction.
- New York enacted Governor Cuomo’s Close to Home initiative that moved more than 300 NYC youth in non-secure and limited secure sites closer to their homes.
- Ohio revised mandatory sentencing for specified crimes and reduced collateral sanctions for youth in the juvenile and adult justice systems.
Curtail the transfer of youth into adult systems
- Colorado limited district attorneys’ ability to directly file youth into adult courts.
- Virginia amended its juvenile transfer bill.
Limit the practice of school referrals into the justice system
- Colorado required school districts to design detailed plans to reduce student referrals to law enforcement.
- Louisiana established a due diligence process to ensure that all available school resources have been utilized before filing a complaint with the court system.
- Massachusetts legislators and advocates continued to work to Raise-the-Age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18.
- North Carolina elected officials and advocates campaigned to Raise-the-Age of adulthood from 16 to 18 and are continuing to interact with a Legislative Research Commission studying the age of juvenile offenders.
- Texas advocates worked to make the new Texas Juvenile Justice Department successful. They also supported most of the reform recommendations of the Texas Judicial Council including making local courts the last resort in school discipline matters.
- Wyoming advocates supported the work of the Governor’s Task Force on Juvenile Justice to improve the effectiveness of delinquency prevention and juvenile justice and youth service programs.
For more information about The National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems, contact Susan Stamler at email@example.com or 917-438-4636