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Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2016
36 pages

Members of Harvard Kennedy School's Executive Session on Community Corrections met to develop a new paradigm for juvenile correctional policy that explores the role of community corrections and community resources.


The discrepancy between funding costs and outcomes from the imprisonment of youth adjudicated by the justice system is clear evidence that a new paradigm for youth corrections is needed. Adult-style prisons that emphasize confinement and control lack the essentials required for healthy adolescent development. In 2013, the National Research Council, the Nation's premiere, nonpartisan research institute led a comprehensive review of research on juvenile justice in the United States. The Council concluded that well-designed community programs are more likely to reduce recidivism and contribute to youth development and well-being. With the right models, technical assistance, and leadership, incarcerated youth populations can be significantly reduced without adversely affecting public safety. This Executive Session produced action steps in four domains captioned as "reduce, reform, replace, and reinvest." Reform steps are recommended under each of these topics. The implementation of this correctional paradigm in Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, and the District of Columbia is described.

Date Published: October 1, 2016