In a recent opinion piece in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Director of Justice Initiatives Diane Sierpina wrote about a decade of youth justice reform in Connecticut. Read an excerpt below:
The alleged involvement of 13- and 14-year-olds in the senseless murder of a young college student in New York City last month is a heartbreaking reminder that, despite a decade of monumental youth justice reforms, much work remains to help and heal our most troubled children.
The end of the decade should be a time to celebrate 10 years of youth justice reforms nationally and locally that have seen a continuing drop in juvenile arrests, adjudications and out-of-home placement — without a rise in youth crime. Eleven states have raised the age that a child can be adjudicated as an adult. Youth prisons are closing. More children and adolescents are being diverted from court and served by community programs.
More schools are reducing suspensions, expulsions and arrests. Advocates and progressive policymakers are working together to address collateral issues, such as the transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal system, youth homelessness and conditions in facilities. Of course, much more needs to be done and funded, but we deserve to cheer the gains successfully achieved.