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Our Work in Juvenile Justice

The Foundation’s juvenile justice reform agenda is designed to improve the odds that at-risk youth can make successful transitions to adulthood. We are working to create a system that locks up fewer youth and relies more on proven, family-focused interventions that create opportunities for positive youth development. This is how we are addressing the issue:

Spearheading a national movement to reform detention — a crucial early phase of the juvenile court process — by reducing overreliance on temporary confinement for youth awaiting their court dates.

Promoting reforms to reduce incarceration and other out-of-home placements for delinquent youth.

A ground-breaking study, No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Reliance on Juvenile Incarceration, shows that America’s overreliance on youth incarceration is dangerous, ineffective, obsolete, wasteful and unnecessary, while providing no net benefit to public safety. The Foundation updated those findings four years later in Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities.

We have expanded JDAI to focus on the “deep end” of the juvenile justice system — reducing long-term placements into correctional institutions and other facilities. Casey’s Juvenile Justice Strategies Group is piloting efforts in six local JDAI sites, as well as Georgia, to devise and implement reforms aimed at reducing the number of children removed from home in the delinquency court process.

Over the past decade, the Foundation has undertaken several intensive projects to help states and localities analyze and reorient their juvenile justice policies, leading to significant shifts away from juvenile incarceration in Alabama, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other jurisdictions.

Advancing a key set of principles related to juvenile justice reforms.

Youth should remain at home and be supervised in the community rather than being separated from their families and placed into correctional institutions or other residential facilities when they do not pose a significant risk to public safety.

Systems must engage families and involve them in all aspects of their children’s cases.

Violence and maltreatment remain widespread in juvenile corrections and detention facilities nationwide. Juvenile corrections agencies have a profound obligation to address these problems and provide safe and humane care to youth in their custody.

Current Strategies

Reducing Youth Incarceration

A jurisdiction-level reform effort to reduce the number of youth in correctional facilities and other out-of-home placements.

Related Resources

New Funds Limit Use of Detention Facilities for Massachusetts Youth and Expand JDAI

A new grant from the Lookout Foundation has been awarded to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. This grant will help deliver JDAI’s mission to decrease the length of stay in detention for low-risk youth and reduce the racial and ethnical disparities within the juvenile justice system. JDAI’s work will expand at the county level across Massachusetts. 

My Life, My Plan: The Value of Youth-Led Reentry Planning

A guest author outlines how youth-led reentry plans empower young people to take control of their own lives. Michael D. explains how taking ownership of his plan allowed him to identify the support he needed to make his reentry successful. 

The Casey Foundation Goes Deep on Race Equity and Inclusion

Learn how the Casey Foundation is making race equity and inclusion central to its work to improve outcomes for kids, families and communities in the United States. As part of this effort, the Foundation is challenging other philanthropies to do the same.

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