Keeping Youth out of Adult Courts

The latest report by a Public Welfare Foundation grantee shows more states adopting policies to limit the number of youth in the adult criminal justice system.

Keeping Youth out of Adult Courts

Fewer and fewer youth are having their cases adjudicated in adult courts, according to a new report by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a Public Welfare Foundation grantee. Since the Campaign launched in 2005, 36 states and Washington, DC have passed 70 pieces of legislation that help keep youth in juvenile courts and facilities rather than in the adult criminal justice system.

The latest report, Raising the Bar: State Trends In Keeping Youth Out of Adult Courts shows impressive progress from 2015-2017, with 19 states and the District of Columbia finding ways to treat kids like kids—passing legislation that raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction or moved youth out of facilities with adults; limiting the ways youth can be transferred to adult courts or creating ways for youth to return to juvenile court; and shifting power to make transfer decisions from prosecutors or state legislatures to judges.

However, despite reductions in the number of youth who are sent to adult courts or adult prisons, youth who are charged with serious offenses need better supports and services in the juvenile system and persistent racial disparities among justice-involved youth still need to be addressed.

To see the full report, click here.