Youth involved in the juvenile justice system routinely face a variety of repercussions beyond detention. Although some of these may be related directly to the violation that occurred, there are many other secondary effects that can result from their system involvement. A recent report from the National Governors Association explores the many adverse effects on youth with justice system involvement. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the report offers state leaders policy options for mitigating these effects, which can hinder young people’s ability to make successful transitions to adulthood.
Understanding Collateral Consequences
Based on discussions with national, state and local youth justice experts, State Strategies to Address the Needs of Justice-Involved Youth Impacted by Collateral Consequences, describes the immediate and long-term harm of any involvement with the juvenile justice system, including arrest, detention, adjudication, residential placement and probation. Consequences for youth include loss of education, benefits and driver’s licenses as well as long-term effects of trauma and stigma attached to system involvement. Families of these youth may also face collateral consequences, including financial penalties, restricted housing availability and criminal charges if the state holds the parent or guardian responsible for the youth’s conduct.
Policy Solutions and Considerations for Governors and State Agencies
The report discusses two categories of strategies for reducing the secondary consequences of justice-system involvement: comprehensive youth justice reform and targeted policies.
In addition to these strategies, the report provides considerations for governors and state agencies to support reform, including:
strengthening interagency partnerships and collaboration;
introducing legislation to address collateral consequences;
partnering with local nonprofit service providers;
creating a task force, working group or oversight committee; and
supporting community-based, trauma-informed methods for engaging youth.
State Leaders Can Apply Comprehensive Reform Approaches or Targeted Policies to Mitigate the Harm of Juvenile Justice System Involvement on Young People
Justice-involved youth face a diverse range of collateral consequences that can have both immediate and long-term negative effects on their well-being. These include significant financial burdens from fines, fees and restitution; barriers to self-sufficiency, such as reducing job eligibility; and trauma. State leaders can adopt either comprehensive reform approaches to mitigate collateral consequences for youth or targeted policies that address specific consequences to improve outcomes for youth and families.
Findings & Stats
Significant Financial Burden
Fines, fees and restitution constitute a significant burden on youth and their families, particularly those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Nearly every state imposes some form of financial cost onto youth and their families.
Barriers to Self-Sufficiency
In the long term, youth with system involvement might face difficulties with acquiring licensure for certain careers, reduced job eligibility or have lowered earnings potential due to their system involvement. This includes barriers to entering military service and updating immigration status for youth who are non-citizens.
The examples of collateral consequences described in the report can have a compounding effect on a youth or their families; hindering an individuals’ economic or social opportunities in one area (employment, education, housing, etc.) can cause the loss or restriction of other current or future opportunities. Thus, the longer a youth remains involved in the juvenile justice system, the more potential collateral consequences they likely will face.
Trauma can be experienced anytime during a youth’s involvement with the juvenile justice system, and the impact of these experiences can continue to cause harm well after the youth’s system involvement has concluded. Long-term adverse effects may be psychological, social and biological.
Statements & Quotations
The term collateral consequences refers to the adverse effects experienced by youth and their families as a result of an interaction with the juvenile justice system, including: arrest, referral, intake, detention, adjudication, residential placement, probation and aftercare.
Youth who become involved in the juvenile justice system often acquire a juvenile court record or a record of an adjudication. Contrary to common perception, these records are often not confidential and may be accessible to employers and others, even after a youth turns 18 or concludes their juvenile court supervision or incarceration.
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