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Realizing youth justice: Advancing education and employment through public policy and investment

Date Added to Library: 
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 12:19
Individual Author: 
Bird, Kisha
Amaechi, Andrea
West Bey, Nia
Taliaferro, Wayne
Reference Type: 
Published Date: 
June 2016
Published Date (Text): 
June 2016
Center for Law and Social Policy

Youth of color are full of promise; they are courageous, intelligent, creative, curious, bold, and resilient. An investment strategy placing them at the center and addressing the structural barriers that keep them locked out of social, emotional, and economic prosperity because of their race/ethnicity, gender, and/or zip code is both fiscally responsible and socially responsible. Leaders at all levels and in all sectors--from law enforcement to education and in the public and private sectors--must value the lives of young men and women of color and acknowledge implicit biases that promulgate negative stereotypes. Public policy reforms to expand youth justice and diversion strategies should not be based on a single program model, rather public policy should build the community capacity to create and/or strengthen a comprehensive delivery system for youth, whereby justice, workforce, education, mental health, and community-based partners are indispensable. This paper represents a first step towards a more powerfully linked agenda for justice reform. In particular, the paper proposes policy strategies that envision work and educational opportunities, along with health and mental health supports, as part of the formula needed to dismantle structural barriers that push youth of color out of school and into detention and incarceration; prevent them from obtaining employment and entering careers with family sustaining wages; and lock them perpetually out of opportunity. The goal of this paper is to provide a framework for recommendations to expand youth justice reform and diversion strategies based on these core ideas of education and employment pathways along with health and mental health supports that can prevent youth of color from entering the juvenile or criminal justice system in the first place, and better support them during and after detention, placement, and/or incarceration. (Author abstract)


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