Fifty Years of Transforming Youth Justice

Updated December 18, 2023 | Posted November 20, 2023
Two young black men sit on a couch, smiling

On Dec. 6Child Trends and the Coali­tion for Juve­nile Jus­tice — two part­ners of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — host­ed 50 Years of Trans­form­ing Youth Jus­tice: Reflec­tions, Remain­ing Chal­lenges and a Path For­ward. The webi­nar kicked off a series of events tied to the upcom­ing 50th anniver­sary of the Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy Pre­ven­tion Act, which estab­lished the fed­er­al Office of Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy Prevention.

Dur­ing the 90-minute ses­sion, juve­nile jus­tice experts, reform advo­cates and pro­fes­sion­als who admin­is­ter the Act at the fed­er­al and state lev­els weighed in on issues of inter­est to orga­ni­za­tions that advo­cate for youth jus­tice reform. They dis­cussed the his­to­ry, sig­nif­i­cance and remain­ing chal­lenges of trans­form­ing youth jus­tice sys­tems and where more progress must occur to ful­ly real­ize the Act’s ini­tial vision.

The anniver­sary of the Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy Pre­ven­tion Act is impor­tant because it marks a fun­da­men­tal under­stand­ing at the nation­al lev­el of crit­i­cal aspects of youth devel­op­ment and best prac­tices in juve­nile jus­tice,” says Steve Bish­op, the Foundation’s asso­ciate direc­tor for Pro­ba­tion and Sys­tem Trans­for­ma­tion and the webi­na­r’s mod­er­a­tor. The Act also sets the stage for nec­es­sary con­ver­sa­tions about what is need­ed to adopt and imple­ment poli­cies that pro­mote youth devel­op­ment in today’s world.”

Oth­er pan­elists included:

  • Shay Bilchik, founder and direc­tor emer­i­tus, Cen­ter for Juve­nile Jus­tice Reform, George­town University
  • John Choi, coun­ty attor­ney, Ram­sey Coun­ty, Minnesota
  • Michelle Diaz, mem­ber, New York State Juve­nile Jus­tice Advi­so­ry Group; alum­na, Casey’s Youth Advi­so­ry Council
  • Ramona Gon­za­lez, cir­cuit court judge, La Crosse Coun­ty, Wisconsin
  • Jill Ward, direc­tor, Cen­ter for Youth Pol­i­cy and Law, Uni­ver­si­ty of Maine School of Law

About the Office of Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy and Prevention

Signed into law on Sept. 7, 1974, the Act estab­lished the Office of Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy Pre­ven­tion, a com­po­nent of the Office of Jus­tice Pro­grams with­in the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice. The Office of Juve­nile Jus­tice and Delin­quen­cy Pre­ven­tion is led by Admin­is­tra­tor Liz Ryan. Its goal is to help states, local­i­ties and tribes devel­op effec­tive and equi­table juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems that cre­ate safer com­mu­ni­ties and empow­er youth to lead pro­duc­tive lives.”

Lis­ten: How to Advance Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Reform

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