Get Involved: Advocates for Change in Juvenile Justice
Who are some of the national nonprofit organizations at the forefront of youth justice reform? How can someone support efforts to ensure that young people exposed to the legal system are able to realize their potential?
The Annie E. Casey Foundation supports organizations that are exploring alternative visions for how our country responds to youth misbehavior. The following are advocates for replacing a culture of surveillance, punishment and confinement with more effective responses when young people violate the law, even in serious and violent ways. These responses would keep more young people away from the formal juvenile justice system and support those youth who do enter the system with opportunities and connections related to their personal growth, positive behavior change and long-term success.
The organizations on this list work nationally or in multiple jurisdictions and are part of a movement to make youth justice better and more equitable, especially for the Black, Latino and Indigenous young people who are consistently overrepresented in the nation’s courtrooms and juvenile facilities. Several began as locally focused nonprofits and have grown to help people outside their jurisdictions. “Innovation happens in communities, and one way innovation spreads is when once-local organizations bring new models and ways of thinking to other places,” says Nate Balis, director of the Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group.
Organizations Advancing Juvenile Justice Reform
If you would like to join the movement, consider connecting with the following organizations, which are current or former grantees of the Casey Foundation. There are many other worthy organizations not included here. Nonprofits may not be on the list because they work in a single jurisdiction, focus on much more than juvenile justice, are professional membership organizations or are not funded by the Foundation.
Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
CFSY is a national coalition and clearinghouse focused on fair and age-appropriate sentences for youth, with a focus on abolishing life without parole sentences for youth.
Center for Children’s Law and Policy
CCLP is a public interest law and policy organization focused on reform of the juvenile justice system and protection of the rights of children.
Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University
CJJR supports the development of leaders in juvenile justice and related systems of care through its certificate programs, research and training.
Center for Public Justice
CPJ approaches reform from a faith-based perspective.
Centinela Youth Services
CYS keeps young people in school and out of the justice system.
Coalition for Juvenile Justice
CJJ is a nationwide coalition dedicated to bringing about positive policy and practice change in the juvenile justice system.
Columbia Justice Lab
Columbia Justice Lab generates ideas for a community-centered future for justice.
Community Connections for Youth
CCFY develops the capacity of communities to respond to youth misbehavior with effective community-driven alternatives to incarceration.
Council of State Governments Justice Center
CSG Justice Center develops research-driven strategies to increase public safety and strengthen communities.
Evident Change uses data and research to improve outcomes in the juvenile justice, criminal justice and child welfare systems.
Impact Justice advances new approaches and solutions that move toward a more humane and restorative justice system.
Inside Circle empowers people affected by the justice system to heal, find purpose and build meaningful lives of service.
Justice for Families
J4F works toward giving families voice and power in juvenile justice decision-making and advocates for direct investments in youth, families and communities.
Justice Policy Institute
JPI conducts research and analyses that identify effective programs and policies, and it provides training and technical assistance to people working for justice reform.
Juvenile Law Center
JLC is a nonprofit, public interest law firm that uses legal strategies and legislative advocacy for the benefit of youth in the juvenile justice system.
La Plazita Institute
La Plazita uses a holistic and cultural approach and engagement with youth, elders and communities to support healthy and thriving futures for all young people, especially those in trouble with the law.
National Center for Juvenile Justice
NCJJ provides research on juvenile and family justice systems for use in improving those systems.
National Center for Youth Law
NCYL advocates for community-based services as alternatives to incarceration and works to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system.
National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform
NICJR works to reduce incarceration and violence, improve the well-being of youth and adults involved in the justice system and develop the next generation of social justice leaders.
National Juvenile Defender Center
NJDC builds the capacity of the juvenile defense bar and improves access to counsel and quality of representation for children in the justice system.
National Juvenile Justice Network
NJJN supports and enhances the work of state-based groups to promote juvenile justice reforms. To find a group in your state, visit www.njjn.org/our-members.
No Kids in Prison
No Kids in Prison seeks to end youth imprisonment entirely in favor of investments in community programs that can put youth on track to success.
Pretrial Justice Institute
PJI advances safe, fair and effective youth and adult pretrial justice practices and policies.
R Street Institute
R Street produces nonpartisan research and commentary on public policy related to the justice system, prioritizing limited government and fiscal responsibility.
Restorative Response Baltimore
RRB provides ways for people to prevent and resolve conflicts and crime through conflict resolution and community-building.
The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults.
Strategies for Youth
SFY improves interactions between police and youth and also seeks to reduce unnecessary arrests of youth for minor offenses and disproportionate police contact with youth of color.
Vera Institute of Justice
Vera pursues safe, healthy and empowered communities and a fair, accountable justice system.
W. Haywood Burns Institute
BI supports communities in establishing self-directed solutions that reimagine justice.
Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
YAP promotes a culturally responsive continuum of care that supports youth and families of color and reduces reliance on incarceration and other out-of-home placements.
YouthPrise promotes a youth-centered, and youth-informed policy and practice agenda, addressing issues of education, career readiness, health and leadership development.