Youth Justice

The Sentencing Project’s latest youth justice report describes proven and promising reforms that state and local youth justice systems should adopt to combat the overuse of incarceration and maximize the success of youth who are placed in alternative-to-incarceration programs.


New Year, Same Fight for Youth Justice!

Advocates in states across the country worked hard to defend youth from harmful media rhetoric and “tough on crime” policies proposed against them. In 2023, The Sentencing Project worked with partners in various states to advance youth justice reforms. Learn how The Sentencing Project will continue to work alongside state partners in the new year to fight for what’s right for young people.

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Youth Justice

Key Publications

“We are not ex-cons, we are not felons, we’re not inmates, we’re people that have a way to give back.”

Photo of Michael Mendoza
Michael Mendoza
National Policy Director at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)
Damon Walker smiling portrait

Advocating for Youth: Damon Walker

Drawing from his experience with the criminal legal system as a teenager, Damon Walker works to give other youth the chance he received – advocating for alternatives to incarceration that offer youth education, structure, and purpose.

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Youth Justice

Testimony in Support of Bill to Extend Parole Eligibility to People Who Committed Crimes Before 25

The Sentencing Project offered expert testimony in support of SB952, a bill that would extend Connecticut’s parole eligibility rules — currently operable for people under 18 years old at the time of their offense — to people who were under 25 years old.


Webinar with OJJDP's Liz Ryan: Blaming Our Kids Won't Make Us Safe

We’ve all heard stories about purported increases in juvenile crime. But what do the facts say? And how can we advance needed reforms in the current atmosphere? Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Liz Ryan, and advocates from around the country discuss the facts about youth crime during the pandemic and the opportunities for reform.

Click here to watch.


Youth Justice

Important reforms that protect young people from the dangers of incarceration have been achieved over the last 25 years but the benefits are not shared equally among all children. The likelihood of court involvement, detention, and placement in a facility is overwhelmingly heightened for Black, Latinx and Tribal youth compared to white youth involved in similar behavior. Practices holding youth to account must be age appropriate, ensure their health and well-being, and minimize incarceration. Join us by sharing The Sentencing Project’s findings on social media.

  • #1

    The US is the only country in the world that sentences youth to life without parole.

  • 64%

    Reforms have helped achieve a 64% reduction in commitments to juvenile justice facilities between 1997 and 2017.

  • 4X

    Black youth are over four times as likely to be detained or committed in juvenile facilities as their white peers.

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Stand up for youth justice

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