Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform, 2007-2008

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National Juvenile Justice Network

The United States imprisons more youths than any country in the world. This report highlights state-level juvenile justice reforms designed to reduce the number of incarcerated youth and protect juvenile offenders.

Reforms in 33 states, ranging from sentencing guidelines to prison conditions, are summarized briefly. These reforms include legislation in Illinois and Indiana aimed at reducing the chances that juveniles will be prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system.

The report also cites initiatives in Alabama, Nevada and Ohio that are intended to reduce the number of youths in prison through the use of community-based programs and shorter sentences.

Another key area of reform is safeguarding especially vulnerable youths while they are in the juvenile justice system. The District of Columbia and New York have instituted procedures to protect LGBTQ youth, who face disproportionately high levels of harassment and abuse in juvenile justice facilities. Florida, New York and South Carolina have created new legislation and specialized facilities tailored toward girls, who, according to the report, "represent the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice population in America."

 Many of the initiatives in the report concentrate on restorative justice-a more community-minded and less adversarial approach to juvenile justice than the traditional model-as a means of reducing recidivism and prison populations.

Free, 35 pages. (202) 887-0738,