The State of Youth Justice

As Youth Incarceration Drops, Racial Disparities Persist

This milestone is a victory for reformers, largely fueled by a recognition of what researchers have long known: socially and scientifically, young people are not adults and criminal justice responses to their behavior haven’t improved outcomes.Joan McCord, Cathy Spatz Widom, and Nancy A. Crowell, editors, Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2001), 4-5. In 2017, the “raise the age” movement focused both the media and state legislatures on those under 18 years old who are charged and treated as adults.Teresa Wiltz, “Children Still Funneled through Adult Prisons, But States Are Moving Against It,” USA Today, June 17, 2017. Despite these advances, pervasive disparities continue to exist for youth of color at all points in the justice system.OJJDP, “National Disproportionate Minority Contact Databook,” accessed December 18, 2017.

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  • James Bell
  • Marc Schindler
  • Hernan Carvente