Children, Youth, and Family

Topics: Children, Youth, and Family

Nicholas Turner's Testimony to President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Written testimony of Nicholas Turner, president and director of the Vera Institute of Justice, on the topic of building trust and legitimacy between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, submitted on January 9, 2015 to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Turner...
Young Men of Color and the Other Side of Harm: Addressing Disparities in our Responses to Violence
Attention is increasingly being paid to the disparities young men of color face in our society, including their disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system as those responsible for crime. Little recognition, however, is given to the fact that young men of color are also...
On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration
*/ Mass incarceration is one of the major public health challenges facing the United States, as the millions of people cycling through the courts, jails, and prisons every year experience far higher rates of chronic health problems, substance use, and mental illness than the general population....
Beyond Offender and Victim: Toward a Humane, Event-Centered Language for Talking about People Involved in Crime and Violence
Beyond Offender and Victim explains rationale behind the Vera demonstration project Common Justice’s use of “harmed party” and “responsible party” to describe the person who survives harm and the person who causes harm, respectively.


A New Role for Technology: The Impact of Video Visitation on Corrections Staff, Inmates, and their Families

This study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, will explore whether providing incarcerated people with access to video visitation improves the nature and frequency of prisoners’ contact with their families and other people who support them. It will also explore if these contacts improve their compliance with custodial rules and outcomes after their release from prison.

Child Welfare Case Processing in New York City Family Courts

The Vera Institute of Justice is partnering with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA), the New York City Family Court, and Casey Family Programs to conduct an operational review of the abuse and neglect case process flow in the Queens and Bronx family courts. Vera is combining data analyses and findings from interviews and observations to describe how the abuse and neglect cases are processed, identify causes of delay, and develop specific actions that the court and agencies can take to accelerate permanent living arrangements for children.

Common Justice

Common Justice is an innovative victim service and alternative-to-incarceration program based on restorative justice principles. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the program works with young people, 16 to 24 years old, who commit violent felonies, and those they harm. Common Justice aims to reduce violence, facilitate the well-being of those harmed, and transform the criminal justice system’s response to serious crime. The program provides participants with a respectful and effective means of accountability, an equitable and dignified avenue to healing, and the tools to break cycles of violence.

Educational Neglect

In half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia, a parent who does not ensure that his or her child attends school regularly can be charged with educational neglect and referred to child protective services. Most of these cases in New York State involve teenagers, even though experts and current research agree that the child protective system is not well equipped to address teenage absenteeism. Vera is working with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to study and improve the government’s response to these cases, with support from Casey Family Programs.

Expanding Data Capacity to Study NYC's "Close to Home" Initiative and other Juvenile Justice Practices

In an effort to better monitor the services and programs provided to youth after a court’s disposition (sentence), the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) contracted with Vera’s Center on Youth Justice to expand the capacity of the city’s Juvenile Justice Database (JJDB), a resource designed and managed by Vera that draws on data from multiple agencies to track cases from arrest through disposition.

Housing and Employment Opportunities within the Housing Authority of New Orleans

The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) strives to offer meaningful access to public housing and employment opportunities for people with criminal records and to keep communities safe and vibrant. Vera is providing research and policy guidance to HANO to inform screening processes that will allow for individualized assessments of the suitability of people with criminal convictions for HANO-assisted housing and employment in the city of New Orleans. This approach aims to reduce long-term negative consequences of criminal convictions while fostering fair and safe communities.

Impact Evaluation of the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience Program at Rikers Island

In 2012, the New York City Mayor’s Office launched the nation’s first social impact bond—an innovative return-for-success initiative in which private funding is used to finance public services—to fund the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) program, which provides Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) services to adolescents at Rikers Island. Under this model, the funder—the global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm Goldman Sachs—will receive a return on its investment if the number of recidivism bed days—the number of days that people are held in jail custody following their initial release—are reduced by at least 10 percent.

Improving Juvenile Sentencing Recommendations in NYC

Since 2010, with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice has provided research support and technical assistance to the New York City Department of Probation (DOP) to plan juvenile sentencing (dispositional) reforms with the goal of minimizing the number of young people removed from their homes following a finding of guilt.

Justice Reform for Healthy Communities

The millions of people who cycle through our nation’s courts, jails, and prisons every year experience far higher rates of chronic health problems, infectious diseases, substance use, and serious mental illness than the general population. Justice Reform for Healthy Communities is a year-long initiative that aims to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities most affected by mass incarceration. Guided by a national advisory board comprised of public health and criminal justice policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and advocates, the initiative advances its mission through public education, coalition building, briefings, and publications. 

New York Immigrant Family Unity Project

The Vera-administered New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the first public defender program in the country for immigrants facing deportation. NYIFUP, which has received $4.9 million in funding from the New York City Council for the current fiscal year, provides detained indigent immigrants facing deportation at New York’s Varick Street Immigration Court with free, high-quality legal representation. The project, which seeks to keep immigrants with their families and in their communities, will also serve detained New York City residents whose deportation cases are being heard in nearby New Jersey locations.

New York State Juvenile Reentry Consortium

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) will be the facilitator and technical assistance provider for the New York State Juvenile Reentry Consortium, a group of counties that will work collaboratively to improve reentry planning, coordination, and services for youth returning from a period of post-sentencing confinement in private, voluntary residential care facilities. The initiative is funded by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

NYCHA Family Reentry Pilot: Reuniting Families in New York City Public Housing

The Vera Institute’s Family Justice Program (Vera) is partnering with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and multiple nonprofit reentry service providers to develop, implement, and study a two-year pilot program that reunites 150 eligible formerly incarcerated individuals with their families in public housing while also providing them with case management services. This project is supported with funding from the Tiger Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and DHS.

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.

Stop, Question, and Frisk Study

The Stop, Question, and Frisk study examines the impact of the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) stop, question, and frisk policies and practices on young people and families in the most highly patrolled areas in New York City.

Substance Use and Mental Health

Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program uses applied research to help government and community-based organizations create services and policies designed to help people who use substances or have psychiatric disorders avoid criminal justice involvement and receive the services they need to achieve stable community living. Program staff collect quantitative and qualitative data, evaluate existing programs, and review government data to understand the experiences of these populations, the circumstances that lead to their arrest, and the policies that prolong their involvement in the criminal justice system.

The Impact of Family Involvement: What Visitation Can Mean for Juvenile Justice Outcomes

Vera’s Family Justice Program is partnering with the Indiana Department of Correction, Division of Youth Services (DYS) to study the importance of family visitation for incarcerated youth and to provide the field with lessons about the challenges and benefits of implementing enhanced visitation policies that expand opportunities for family contact.

Unaccompanied Children Program

The Unaccompanied Children Program coordinates a national effort to increase pro bono legal representation for immigrant children in removal (deportation) proceedings without a parent or legal guardian. These children may be fleeing poverty, war, or other dangerous circumstances on their own, or they may have lost contact with an adult along the way. They are detained in federal custody in shelters or detention centers contracted by the Division of Children’s Services (DCS, formerly DUCS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Understanding and Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities

In March of 2012, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to ensure that existing efforts to address sexual abuse of children are inclusive of children with disabilities. They also sought to increase the number and breadth of efforts that are specifically addressing sexual abuse of children with disabilities.

Youth Futures: Workforce Development and Educational Support to System-Involved Youth

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is coordinating Youth Futures, a multi-site program aimed at improving the long-term employment prospects of at-risk and justice-involved youth living in, or returning to high-crime, high-poverty communities in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and through collaborative partnerships with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, and the Youth Empowerment Project, Youth Futures prepares program participants for success in the labor market by providing comprehensive, individualized case management services linked to workforce development and educational interventions, supports, and training programs.

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*/ “Breaking Point: New York’s Mental Health Crisis” is a powerful broadcast series about the intersection of poverty, mental health, and the criminal justice system by Cindy Rodriguez, of New York City’s public radio station WNYC. The Vera...
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In late January, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S.262) in the Senate to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), which expired in 2013...
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*/ “Breaking Point: New York’s Mental Health Crisis” is a powerful broadcast series about the intersection of poverty, mental health, and the criminal justice system by Cindy Rodriguez, of New York City’s public radio station WNYC. The Vera...
Angela Browne
Senior Fellow, Washington DC Office
Krista Larson
Director, Center on Youth Justice
Anne Marie Mulcahy
Director of the Unaccompanied Children Program, Center on Immigration and Justice
Danielle Sered
Director, Common Justice
Susan Shah
Program Director, Center on Immigration and Justice
Allon Yaroni
Research Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections | Family Justice Program | Child Welfare, Health, and Justice
Margaret diZerega
Director, Family Justice Program
Ryan Shanahan
Research Director, Center on Youth Justice
Vidhya Ananthakrishnan
Project Director, Center on Youth Justice
Chansi Powell
Senior Program Associate, Center on Youth Justice
Nicholas Turner
President and Director

About this Topic

Vera works to promote the well-being and safety of children and youth by making the government systems they are involved in more equitable and humane in policy and practice.