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Juvenile justice


There has been a troubling shift in the nation’s responses to at-risk youth over the past 25 years. The creators of the juvenile justice system originally viewed it as a system for providing prevention, protection, and redirection to youth, but it is more common for juveniles today to experience tough sanctions and adult-type punishments instead. While reforms are underway in many places, there remains an urgent need to reframe our responses to juvenile delinquency.

Juveniles Held in Adults Prisons and Jails

Juvenile Justice News
March 3, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Advocacy Campaign Leadership

Advocacy Leadership

Addressing Upstream Policies

Unlocking the Vote

Other News

State legislatures are in full swing. This year, legislation has been introduced in Kentucky to reclassify certain felony offenses to misdemeanors, eliminating prison as a sentencing option. Lawmakers in Maryland and Minnesota are considering expanding voting rights to persons on felony probation or parole. And advocates in Missouri are working to scale back the state's truth-in-sentencing provision for certain offenses.


February 24, 2015
The State of Sentencing 2014: Developments in Policy and Practice

The State of Sentencing 2014 highlights policy changes in 30 states and the District of Columbia in both the adult and juvenile justice systems, including scaling back sentences for low-level drug offenses, reducing barriers to reentry, and eliminating juvenile life without parole. The reforms highlighted in this report represent approaches that lawmakers and advocates can consider to address sentencing policy and collateral consequences at the state level.


Author: Nicole D. Porter
February 24, 2015
State Criminal Justice Advocacy in a Conservative Environment

State Criminal Justice Advocacy in a Conservative Environment documents successful advocacy strategies employed in campaigns in Indiana, Missouri, and Texas. 

In these states, advocates achieved the following reforms:

  • Reduced enhanced penalties in drug-free zones in Indiana by shrinking the limit of zones from 1,000 feet to 500 feet, and eliminating all zones except those around schools and parks
  • Modified Missouri’s federal lifetime ban on food stamp benefits for persons with felony drug convictions
  • Closed two Texas prison facilities: the Dawson State Jail and the Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility

Author: Nicole D. Porter
February 13, 2015 (The Huffington Post)
Politics of Black Lives Matter: Broadening Public Safety Priorities Beyond Arrests and Prisons

The Huffington Post recently published a piece by Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project, as part of the "Black Future Month" series celebrating Black History Month. Each day in February, this series will look at one of 28 different cultural and political issues affecting Black lives, from education to criminal justice reform


February 3, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System

Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice SystemA new publication from The Sentencing Project provides a comprehensive review of programs and policies across the nation and identifies a broad range of initiatives that can address racial disparities at all levels of the criminal justice system. Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System highlights initiatives in more than 20 states designed to address the criminal justice system’s high rate of contact with people of color.

In the wake of the tragedies in Ferguson and other cities, excessive police contact has been identified as a major cause of the disproportionate rate of fatal police encounters for African Americans and Latinos. The report identifies four key features of the criminal justice system that produce racially unequal outcomes, beyond the conditions of socioeconomic inequality that contribute to higher rates of some crimes in marginalized communities, and showcases initiatives to abate these sources of inequity in adult and juvenile justice systems around the country.