Juvenile Justice Reformers Driven by Memories of Mistakes in Their Less-informed Past

Adolphus Graves, the chief probation officer of Fulton County Juvenile Court in Atlanta, was driven to transform his juvenile justice system by the mistakes he made as a young probation officer.
“I was a little wayward and misguided as a probation officer,” he said. “Knowing my times as a probation officer, and how many things I did horribly, or how many children that I irresponsibly, or sometimes just ignorantly, subjected to detention because I had no other tools. ... The recurring theme consistently has been the lack of knowledge, of understanding what’s going on, the depth of what’s going on in a child’s life.”

The Importance of Treating for Trauma in Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth

Research over the past several decades has established that youth exposure to violence is a widespread and significant problem. This is particularly true for youth involved in the juvenile justice system, as research has shown that up to 90 percent of these youth have histories of violence exposure, with many reporting multiple serious incidents.

It Is Possible to Heal Our Caged Children

They’re labeled thugs, treated like throwaways and classified by some as “superpredators”: teenage boys and girls who seek sanctuary in gangs, commit violent crimes and end up in the criminal justice system. Not only are they physically locked up, but these children are caged in emotional turmoil.