Casey’s focus on system diversion and prevention centers on how jurisdictions across the country choose to address adolescent misbehavior. It emphasizes connecting young people to the support, services and opportunities they need to navigate adolescence — applying knowledge of what works with young people to set them up for success.
The evidence is clear that addressing adolescent behavior with formal juvenile justice system responses is associated with ongoing subsequent delinquency and diminished long-term success. Arrests harm young people’s well-being even if the arrest doesn’t lead to a formal case in juvenile court. In fact, research shows that any contact with police negatively affects young people, contributing to higher dropout rates, lower college attendance, less earned income and more. These effects are especially damaging for Black and Latino youth.
Youth and young adults are hard-wired to test limits. Rather than criminalize their actions, young people may be guided toward making an apology, repairing the harm they caused and, in the process, expanding their capacity for empathy and accountability.