transitioning: Black teenager male ignoring scolding adult sitting on bench

Positive Youth Development Holds Promise for States Working With Transitioning Youth

The transition out of the juvenile justice system has considerable consequences for the transitioning youth, for the neighborhood into which the youth is transitioning and for society more broadly. For youth experiencing homelessness and insecure housing, that transition is particularly challenging. A recent study from Chapin Hall showed that nearly half the nation’s youth who have experienced homelessness have been involved in the justice system and that those without stable housing upon release are more likely to be rearrested.

Following a New Roadmap to Juvenile Justice

These days are exciting ones for youth justice in the United States. Several factors have come together to influence the evolution of the field, including the economic downturn, a recognition that traditional models have failed, and a wide variety of new alternatives. David Muhammad, the former chief probation officer of Alameda County California, and the former deputy commissioner of probation in New York City, writes in an August 28, post for New America Media, A Roadmap to the Future of Juvenile Justice, about programs around the country that are working. He focuses on several interrelated approaches. The first, Positive Youth Development, flips the usual approach of criminal justice, which views kids involved with the system as problems to be fixed, on its head.

Benjamin Chambers Interviews Dr. Jeffrey Butts on Positive Youth Development

Positive youth development is a key part of Reclaiming Futures. But what the heck is “positive youth development?” According to juvenile justice researcher Dr. Jeffrey Butts, it blends what we know about adolescent development and what we know about effective services. But don’t take it from me — here’s a brief interview on the subject that I did with Dr. Butts at the Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute held in Miami in May:

The above story is reprinted with permission from Reclaiming Futures, a national initiative working to improve alcohol and drug treatment outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system.