JJ Today

Real Juvenile Justice Reform Needs More Than Just Good Ideas

August 23, 2013 by John Lash By John Lash

John LashReal change takes more than just ideas, it requires sustained and supported implementation of those ideas, and a willingness to make course corrections based on new data. It also requires that the ideas dreamed up by policy wonks get translated into useful action on the ground. Too often there is a disconnect between good ideas and actual practice.

In the realm of juvenile justice we are seeing the fruition of just this kind of ongoing effort. Across the country laws are changing, policies are being rewritten and the realization that “kids are different” is being absorbed from top to bottom. This change has been 20 years in the making, and still has a long way to go.

Integral to this effort has been the work of the MacArthur Foundation, most notably their Models for Change project. For 20 years, MacArthur has supported research, evidence based best practices, education and collaboration between stakeholders in juvenile justice reform. (To be fully transparent, they also fund theJuvenile Justice Resource Hub, curated by the National Juvenile Justice Networkand housed at and promoted by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.)

As reported in ABA Journal, MacArthur’s latest effort dedicates $15 million for the creation of four resource centers whose aim will be “to provide judges, prosecutors, defenders, policymakers, advocates, probation officers, and mental health and social service agencies with technical assistance, trainings, tools, and resources to advance juvenile justice reform throughout the country.”

The four resource centers will each address different facets of juvenile justice reform. They include the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change, the National Juvenile Defender Center, the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, and the Status Offense Reform Center.

When we consider that this brings MacArthur’s  20-year level of funding for juvenile justice reform to $165 million we can appreciate the power of sustained effort. This is the kind of giving that works. Too often grant makers lack the long term vision needed to address large scale problems. Here we see the opposite. These centers will extend the work of researchers and policy makers to those who come face to face with kids every day, and give them the tools they need to bring real reform to fruition. This is the kind of change we need.

Subscribers, login for full access to Youth Today Online. Not a subscriber?

Comments

You must Login before leaving a comment.

JJ Today Notes

Nancy Carter | 04/16/14Supporting Youth Driven Organizations Does Make a ... More

Jon Gilgoff | 04/14/14Are We There Yet? Toward More Gender and Culturall... More

John Lash | 04/11/14OP-ED: Don’t Forget, Violent Juvenile Crime is Act... More

Hillary Transue | 04/08/14Op-Ed: Children Deserve Our Honesty and Compassion... More

Rick Rood | 04/07/14Common Core Support in Out-of-School Time: Must We... More

John Lash | 04/04/14Navigating the Future of Juvenile Sentencing After... More

Jeannette Pai-Espinosa | 03/31/14Once a Bad Girl, Not Always a Bad Girl ... More

Supporting Youth Driven Organizations Does Make a Difference

Written by Nancy Carter | 04/16/2014

Nancy Carter

Supporting youth voices was not as popular in the 1990s as it is today. Systems were afraid of what young adults had to say. The general public and many professionals felt teenagers and emerging adults, were “difficult” to work with, had “attitudes”, and that it was “too late to make a difference” in their lives. Small pockets of advocates around the country started to change that perspective and North Carolina joined the movement. I was fortunate to help develop a youth driven group called...

read more

Child Welfare Today

Top Headlines 04/16/2014 Read More

Top Headlines 04/15/2014 Read More

Top Headlines 04/14/2014 Read More

Education Today

Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children Read More

Why Numbers Can’t Tell the Whole Story Read More

Finding the Right Match Read More

Juvenile Justice Today

OJJDP Grants Only Slightly More Transparent After 2008 Controversy Read More

Top Headlines 04/16/2014 Read More

Top Headlines 04/15/2014 Read More

Job Training Today

Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children Read More

The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults Read More

Teaching and Learning: Achieving Education for All Read More

Opinion Today

Top Headlines 04/16/2014 Read More

Top Headlines 04/15/2014 Read More

Top Headlines 04/14/2014 Read More