In an effort to identify alternatives to adult incarceration for youth, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is learning from stakeholders across the country about their efforts to serve youth charged as adults across a continuum of care. In a new report, “If Not The Adult System,Then Where? Alternatives to Adult Incarceration For Youth Certified Adults”. CFYJ shares current and emerging practices for better serving youth charged as adults, insights from practitioners about what makes for successful programming for this population, and specific recommendations for policy and practice change.
“Failed and damaging policies that treat children as adults have always existed in the US and have deep historical roots in racist ideology. The massive expansion of transfer laws thirty years ago trapped hundreds of thousands of youth between two systems — too often rendering them invisible and forgotten,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. “Communities and states are now using research and data to bring many youth back to a more developmentally appropriate system of care. It’s been affirming to talk to so many community and system leaders that now say, ‘These are our children. They belong with us here.’”
Speaking with stakeholders across the country that serve youth charged as adults across a continuum of care, CFYJ found a variety of approaches that are effective in ensuring youth are responded to in an appropriate way. These approaches include:
- Narrowing state laws for how and when youth are sent to the adult system;
- Investing in non-residential, community-based initiatives that offer diversion opportunities to more youth, including those charged with felonies;
- Deploying community-based therapeutic interventions well into adolescence that are more developmentally appropriate and that may include residential treatment; and
- Allowing youth charged and sentenced as adults to remain under juvenile justice custody and offering appropriate services to them.
View the full report here.
About the Campaign for Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. CFYJ was initiated in 2004 by a parent whose son was transferred to the adult criminal court for prosecution.