Sending Kids to Court Doesn't Help Them. Here’s What Will.

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Sending Kids to Court Doesn't Help Them. Here’s What Will.

Current juvenile justice practices routinely undercut the stability of families, communities, and the economy. How? By removing kids from home, disrupting their education, and spending significant taxpayer money on interventions that aren't effective and can actually lead to increased recidivism.

But there's a better way: diversion.

In this video, experts explain how the current system is failing our kids and how diverting them from courts—which can range from community service to writing a letter of apology—can hold kids accountable without upending their lives.

"When you have a young man coming before you, 13 to 17 years of age, if you formally process this young man, if you get really tough, if you do the punitive response, our research is showing you're actually going to make that young man worse five years later," explains Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman of the University of California, Irvine.

Learn more about how to improve the juvenile justice system

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Utah’s 2017 Juvenile Justice Reform Shows Early Promise

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On March 24, 2017, Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed H.B. 239, a comprehensive set of research-based reforms designed to improve the state’s juvenile justice system.

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Kansas Reduces Youth Confinement

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Kansas enacted juvenile justice reform legislation, S.B. 367, in 2016. Out-of-home confinement decreased by 63 percent between 2015 and 2018. Placements in group homes declined 87 percent and confinement in the state’s youth prison fell 31 percent.

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Since 2012, a growing number of states have used data and research to inform sweeping policy changes that aim to improve juvenile justice systems. Their efforts include prioritizing use of detention and out-of-home placement for youth who present the greatest public safety risk, limiting the length of their confinement, reinvesting taxpayer savings to expand access to evidence-based services, and supporting community-based interventions for lower-level offenses.

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How Kentucky Is Keeping Kids Out of Court

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Kentucky’s youth diversion program has helped children across the commonwealth stay out of court and remain with their families while improving public safety and saving taxpayer dollars—showing that investing in communities over courts benefits everyone.

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