Juvenile justice reform in the states

Recent outcry over the case of the Jena 6 in Louisiana has highlighted the need for juvenile justice reform in the states. States can work to reduce racial disparities within their systems and to ensure young offenders receive rehabilitation in the juvenile system, not in adult detention centers. According to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, African-American youth are nearly twice as likely to be arrested than their white counterparts and are more than twice as likely to be moved to adult court. Research has shown that only the most serious juvenile offenders should be tried as adults. Juveniles placed in adult facilities face higher rates of suicide and assault and often return to their communities more dangerous than when they left. Focusing on prevention and age-appropriate rehabilitation measures instead of detention is more cost-effective and actually increases public safety. For more information, see CPA’s policy briefs and model legislation for Juvenile Detention Reform, Juvenile Transfer Reform, and Juvenile Waiver of Counsel. The JDAI Helpdesk also offers practice-based resources, including information on reducing racial disparities, for advocates and policymakers interested in juvenile justice reform.