In the midst of a tough environment for reform, the youth justice team has been working closely with our state partners and shaping national discussions about effective reforms.
After a big year in 2022, passing an omnibus reform that has sharply reduced justice system involvement, Maryland advocates were ready to fix the state’s aggressive charging of teenagers as if they are adults. The Youth Justice Team has been working with a coalition of advocates in Maryland to pass the YES Act, legislation that would end this practice. The Sentencing Project’s Director of Youth Justice, Josh Rovner, testified in support of the legislation.
In February, we joined the Maryland Youth Justice Coalition who hosted a rally prior to the bill hearing and several directly impacted individuals showed up in support. We are thankful for the coalition’s efforts to show up another year for the YES act, and look forward to working to pass this legislation next year!
In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont signed bills to end extreme sentences for people under 21 (SB 952) and to move the state closer to removing its youth from adult prisons (HB 6888). Our supportive testimony is here. We are excited to continue working with the Connecticut Justice Alliance’s Justice Coalition and Justice Advisors on removing youth from the adult system entirely.
In Tennessee, we’ve taken a close look at the data on youth offending and seen how young people’s role in crime has been shrinking over time. As the state legislature heads toward a special session, we urge leaders in the Volunteer State to keep their teens away from adult courts, jails and prisons.
Diving into research
The Sentencing Project has released three reports so far this year to highlight transformative youth justice:
- Youth Justice by the Numbers provides key data on youth incarceration and racial and ethnic disparities.
- Why Youth Incarceration Fails shares decades of evidence proving that locking up our kids harms their futures and does little to protect public safety.
- Effective Alternatives to Youth Incarceration identifies six alternative models that consistently produce better public safety outcomes than incarceration, with far less disruption to young people’s healthy adolescent development at a fraction of the cost.
In our latest webinar, we discussed alternatives-to-incarceration program models, bringing together youth justice experts, mentors, and people who’ve benefited from the alternatives. Click here to watch the webinar.
It’s been a great year so far. But we’re just getting started!