Status Offense Reform Center

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice launched the online Status Offense Reform Center to help jurisdictions rethink and reform their approach to working with youth charged with status offenses. Disobedient but not delinquent, these young people have engaged in behaviors that are prohibited under law only because of their age, such as skipping school, running away, or violating curfew, raising the concern of the adults in their lives. A member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, the center serves as a one-stop shop of information and practical guidance for policymakers and practitioners interested in preventing youth who engage in problematic but noncriminal behavior, such as truancy or running away, from entering the juvenile justice system and providing them with services and supports in the community better suited to meet their needs.

Our Work

Across the country, young people who have committed status offenses too often wind up in court rooms and detention facilities, which are ill-equipped to provide them and their families with the assistance they urgently need. The use of justice system interventions to respond to juvenile noncriminal misbehavior is expensive and frequently does more harm than good. At a time when public officials are looking to make the most of scarce resources, comprehensive reform of status offense systems promises to reduce costs while at the same time enhance prevention and diversion services and improve outcomes for youth, families, and communities. Increasingly, leaders from diverse jurisdictions recognize the need for status offense system reform, but many lack the tools and guidance they need to act.

The online Status Offense Reform Center addresses this gap by providing guidance and tools to practitioners and policymakers interested in reforming local responses to and treatment of status offending youth and their families while also highlighting the important role that status offense system reform plays in the broader juvenile justice dialogue. The user-friendly, interactive website includes a range of resources, such as a toolkit for planning, implementing, and sustaining comprehensive status offense system reform; profiles of reform efforts occurring around the United States; research briefs on key status offense behaviors; and webinars and podcasts that explore the latest research as well as lessons learned from the field. The site will also feature a blog and a helpdesk to respond to inquiries for additional information or

Contact Information
Vidhya Ananthakrishnan
Project Director, Center on Youth Justice
Vera Institute of Justice
233 Broadway, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10279
(212) 376-3117
vananthakrishnan@vera.org

The Status Offense Reform Center is a member of the Models for Change
Resource Center Partnership
.

To learn more about the Status Offense Reform Center, please visit:
www.statusoffensereform.org
 

From Courts to Communities: The Right Response to Truancy, Running Away, and Other Status Offenses
12/09/2013
Young people who run away from home, skip school, or engage in other risky behaviors that are only prohibited because of their age end up in courtrooms every year by the thousands. Responding to these cases, called “status offenses,” in the juvenile justice system can lead to punitive outcomes that...
04/15/2014
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A few years ago, I met a young girl, “Denise,” who told me that her uncle had repeatedly raped her since she was eight. To stop the endless abuse, Denise said, she deliberately got pregnant by another man. Her plan worked. The uncle did stop raping her, but by that time, she was a mother at 15....
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04/04/2014
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When friends and family who work in different fields ask me to describe Vera’s work in youth justice, they are inevitably perplexed when I first mention our status offense reform efforts. “Status offenses? Never heard of them.” But if I go on to describe what falls under that heading, the...
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12/13/2013
Posted by
Every year, thousands of young people end up in courtrooms because they ran away from home, skipped school, or engaged in other risky behaviors that are not criminal in nature and only prohibited because of their ages. Responding to these cases, called “status offenses,” in court can lead to deeper...
Read more
12/13/2013
Posted by
Every year, thousands of young people end up in courtrooms because they ran away from home, skipped school, or engaged in other risky behaviors that are not criminal in nature and only prohibited because of their ages. Responding to these cases, called “status offenses,” in court can lead to deeper...
Read more
12/04/2013
Posted by
Momentum continues to build nationally for ways to limit the reach of the juvenile justice system, relying less on court interventions and incarceration and more on safe and effective community-based options. This momentum makes the experience of youth who commit status offenses—a range of...
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