As the country’s youth incarceration rate has declined in recent years, there is now a growing movement to end the use of a punitive youth prison model in favor of a more community-centered approach. Nationwide, research and practice are demonstrating that it is possible to keep youth in their own homes and communities, with the support of their families, all while promoting safety, fairness, and accountability on all sides.Over time, the Justice Lab will accelerate this transformation through a multi-pronged initiative that will:
1) Build the field’s knowledge base about successful deinstitutionalization efforts through a variety of different public-facing products, including a series of case studies on jurisdictions that have done this successfully.
2) Create the Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice, a group that will unify and elevate the voices of current and former youth correctional leaders in calling for and guiding states and localities in their efforts to end the use of youth prisons.
3) Advance a new vision of what it means to establish community capacity that supports youth and families, through events, communications, and other approaches.
4) Cultivate a new generation of reformers to redefine what youth justice looks like. This effort will focus on developing leadership capacity among youth who have experienced the system, as well as those who have been actively been pushing for changes, within the jurisdictions where transformations are underway.