Setting an agenda for family-focused justice reform

05/12/2011
Margaret diZerega and Jules Verdone

Juvenile and criminal justice systems are increasingly adopting family-focused policies and practices, primarily because research shows that contact with supportive family members can result in better outcomes when individuals are released and return to the community. A family-focused approach to justice reform also has important, if less apparent, consequences for other systems, such as schools, health care, and law enforcement. In April 2011, Vera’s Family Justice Program convened a roundtable of experts from the justice field and beyond to document promising practices throughout the country and discuss the next steps needed to make justice systems more family-focused through multidisciplinary efforts. Among the group’s recommendations described in this report are an emphasis on safety and security; encouraging more contact between incarcerated individuals and their family members; involving family in shaping practice and policy; and conducting more research.