Juvenile Justice System Transformation

Juvenile justice systems have three complementary goals: 1) hold youth accountable for actions; 2) treat youth fairly; and 3) prevent youth from reoffending by addressing the root causes of their behavioral issues and facilitating positive development. However, persistently high youth reoffending rates show that juvenile justice systems often struggle to achieve these goals, and research shows consistent disparities—in system involvement; interventions, services, or sanctions received; and system outcomes—for youth of color (particularly Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic youth), youth living in poverty, and youth living in rural communities. These disparities reflect historical and ongoing racism and inequities in U.S. institutions, policies, and culture.