Juvenile Justice Video Explains Ways to Elevate Care for Youth in Custody

Posted July 26, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A graphic depicting a diverse group, with the heading "Eight Principles to Transform Care for Young People in the Justice System

A short video pro­duced by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion iden­ti­fies eight prin­ci­ples that every juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem should embrace right now to trans­form care for youth in cus­tody. These prin­ci­ples are designed to help all young peo­ple real­ize their poten­tial — regard­less of their race, eth­nic­i­ty, gen­der, neigh­bor­hood or per­son­al history.

The video intro­duces ways that juris­dic­tions can imme­di­ate­ly and mean­ing­ful­ly ele­vate the stan­dard of care for youth in cus­tody as they work toward big­ger changes. Both the video and the doc­u­ment on which it is based, Eight Prin­ci­ples to Trans­form Care for Young Peo­ple in the Jus­tice Sys­tem”, affirm that states, coun­ties or cities must dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce youth con­fine­ment, build stronger com­mu­ni­ty-cen­tered respons­es and put an end to the prison mod­el for youth and young adults.

Yet such a trans­for­ma­tion takes time, and youth in cus­tody can’t wait. Accord­ing to the most recent fed­er­al data, 36,000 young peo­ple — dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly and over­whelm­ing­ly youth of col­or — were in cus­tody in 2019.

Young peo­ple in cus­tody are in a crit­i­cal devel­op­men­tal stage that requires sup­port and under­stand­ing, even when they act in ways that cause harm,” says Tanya Wash­ing­ton, a senior asso­ciate with the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group and the nar­ra­tor of the video. That includes being aware of how chron­ic trau­ma may have affect­ed the lives of youth in sys­tems and respond­ing in appro­pri­ate, car­ing ways that pro­mote heal­ing and resilience.”

Trans­form­ing Care for Youth in Custody

The eight prin­ci­ples are:

  1. Lead with val­ues that pro­mote equi­ty and well-being. 
  2. Main­tain an uplift­ing and safe environment. 
  3. Devel­op staff to build pos­i­tive and sup­port­ive relationships. 
  4. Pro­vide var­ied and use­ful programming. 
  5. Ground prac­tice and cul­ture in knowl­edge of ado­les­cent development. 
  6. Treat fam­i­ly mem­bers as partners. 
  7. Encour­age com­mu­ni­ty connections. 
  8. Incor­po­rate con­tin­u­ous qual­i­ty improvement. 

When young peo­ple make mis­takes — includ­ing vio­lat­ing the law in seri­ous ways — they should have oppor­tu­ni­ties to bounce back and grow into respon­si­ble adults,” Wash­ing­ton said. 

Relat­ed Juve­nile Jus­tice Resources

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