Judges sit at a critical juncture in the juvenile justice system, determining the most appropriate sanctions and services for young offenders. However, judges often lack viable options to hold these offenders accountable and ensure they receive the interventions they need to get back on track with their families, schools, and communities.
These frustrations are increasingly prompting judges to engage in juvenile justice reform in their states. Pew recently spoke with three of them—Steven Teske of Georgia, Lisa Jones of Kentucky, and R. Mark Browning of Hawaii.
Although their experiences varied, all three judges said they championed reform efforts because of concerns that placing large numbers of youth in out-of-home facilities for low-level offenses was a high-cost strategy that produced disappointing results. They also agreed that judges contribute a vital perspective to reform initiatives and urged their colleagues in the judiciary to get involved.