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Juvenile Justice



On any given night, an estimated 60,000 youth - the overwhelming majority of whom are accused of minor and non-violent offenses - are incarcerated in a correctional facility or out-of-home placement.  Despite research showing that incarceration leads to high juvenile recidivism rates, as well as poor education, employment, and health outcomes for youth, systems often fail to use alternatives to incarceration that have been shown to be more effective at rehabilitating young people.  Moreover, an estimated 250,000 youth are tried in the adult criminal justice system annually, and nearly 10,000 youth are housed in adult jails or prisons on any given night.  These policies ignore the well-established differences between youth and adults, increase recidivism rates, and expose youth in adult jails and prisons to high rates of sexual abuse and suicide.  Youth of color are disproportionately likely to suffer the harms of these failed policies and practices.

The Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Program supports groups working to end the criminalization and over-incarceration of youth in the United States. In particular, the Program makes grants to groups that are working to:


  • Advance state policies that restrict the juvenile justice system’s use of incarceration and expand the use of community-based programs for youth;
  • End the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system; and
  • Promote the fair and equitable treatment of youth of color who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.


Video: Katie Couric talks to the filmmaker and others involved in the “Kids for Cash” movie – February 2014 

Video: Katayoon Majd and James Bell, conversation on youth of color – February 19, 2014 

Fewer Kids in Adult Courts – Oct 11, 2013

Video Interview: James Bell of the Burns Institute on racial disparities—November 4, 2013

Video Interview: Liz Ryan of the Campaign for Youth Justice on Juvenile Justice Reform – May 1, 2013

Curbing Prosecutors' Power Over Youth in Colorado - Feb 2013 Newsletter

Program News, click here


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