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Because Kids are Different: Five Opportunities for Reforming the Juvenile Justice System

Published Dec 9, 2014, Models for Change Resource Center Partnership

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As broader acceptance of recent findings in the field of adolescent development has opened the way for change, juvenile justice policymakers, stakeholders, practitioners, and advocates across the country have not been slow to champion numerous innovations in policy and practice, generating remarkable momentum for reform. This momentum can be leveraged to change policy in five areas where current practice is fundamentally incompatible with healthy adolescent development:

  1. prosecution of youth in the adult criminal system;
  2. solitary confinement;
  3. confidentiality of juvenile records;
  4. registries for youth who commit sex offenses; and
  5. courtroom shackling. 

This document seeks to concisely frame these policies in light of the research on adolescent development, and thereby aid the juvenile justice reform field in taking strategic action to create a developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system that keeps everyone safer.


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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.

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