“Smart, Safe, and Fair: Strategies to Prevent Youth Violence, Heal Victims of Crimes, and Reduce Racial Inequality,” published through a collaboration between the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) and the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) addresses how to help youth involved in violent crime — both offenders and victims. Confinement of youth convicted of crimes has decreased; however, violent crime convictions have not. The report shows that confinement of youth is more expensive and less effective than community alternatives.
JPI and NCVC partnered to interview and explore what experts in the juvenile justice community thought about how to help youth involved in violent crime. The organizations interviewed youth involved in the system, prosecutors, victims and victim advocates, and public defenders. They found that confinement of youth is more expensive and less effective at reducing the chances of reoffending when compared to community alternatives, and that confinement is used disproportionately for youth of color who are less likely to be offered community-based alternatives. After interviewing the juvenile justice experts, the report lays out recommendations to help keep communities safer and help youth stay out of confinement.
The report recommends:
- Expanded efforts to address and begin healing the damage done by crime in underserved communities, with a focus on communities of color and recognition that youth involved in crime are often crime victims themselves.
- Increased investments in community-based alternatives that focus on the needs of youth involved in violent crime while still holding them accountable.
- Greater attention to meeting the needs of crime victims through accountability, information and support.
Overall, the report stresses that it is critical for the juvenile justice system to take care of more youth in their communities instead of in confinement and to take the needed steps to begin healing communities affected by crime.
Read the full report here.