Tenet 1: Divert Youth from the Justice System
Exposing young people to the justice system can actually increase their likelihood of future offending rather than deter it.[i] Yet, there is a startling trend to “criminalize” minor misbehaviors, which increasingly leads to school suspensions, expulsions and arrests, particularly among youth of color. First and foremost, we need to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and equip schools with the tools necessary to address problem behaviors in-house. When a youth’s behavior requires an intervention by the justice system, age-appropriate and cost effective diversion programs, including mentoring, mediation and group conferencing, and community service, should be offered that allow youth opportunities to understand and accept responsibility for their actions and help them repair harm to victims and the community without formal court involvement. Even youth who are accused of violent offenses should have access to diversion options at every point in the system – from pre-arrest through adjudication.
- National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, Juvenile Diversion Strategies and Models
- Vera Institute for Justice, Status Offense Reform Center
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Implementing the Balanced and Restorative Justice Model