Citizens for Juvenile Justice
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Data Collection

CfJJ launched its Just Facts campaign in 2007 to require all agencies in the juvenile justice system to collect basic, non-identifying, statistical data and share this data with the public. The name of the campaign was picked with care: The public deserves the facts because, without them, we can’t possibly make wise and just decisions about policies that have a profound effect on kids, families and communities.

Our partners in the Just Facts campaign include the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Task Force on Racial Disparities, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Proskauer (which generously provides CfJJ with pro bono assistance).

As a result of our efforts, race and ethnicity data is now being collected and shared by the Administrative Office of the Trial Court for the first time in over a decade!

In addition, under the skillful leadership of Senator Cynthia Creem, legislation (Sen. No. 1198) has been introduced to mandate that data including race, ethnicity, gender, age and offense be collected at all the key points in the system and shared annually with the public.

Here is just a sample of critical questions that we will finally be able to answer once the public gets the missing facts:

Resources:

CfJJ Report: DataPoints | December 2011
Looking for the most recent data on the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts? CfJJ recently published its first edition of DataPoints, a report compiling the most current data from police, courts, probation, and the Department of Youth Services (DYS). Click on the link above for more information about this report.

CfJJ Fact Sheet: “Just Facts”
March 2011

The Provider, "Mandate Collection of Juvenile Data"
February 2008

Racial Disparities

Often referred to as disproportionate minority contact, or DMC, racial disparities exist at every stage of the juvenile justice system from arrest to re-entry. For example, black youth are 8 times as likely to be held in secure confinement as white youth – yet there is no evidence that black youth commit more crimes, or more serious crimes, than white youth.

Since 2004, CfJJ has taken a leadership role in the important task of identifying and addressing the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the Massachusetts’ juvenile justice system. Our work includes:

Resources:

CfJJ DMC Fact Sheet
November 2005

CfJJ Fact Sheet: Racial Disparities in the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System
November 2005

National Council on Crime and Delinquency: And Justice for Some:
Differential Treatment for Youth of Color in the Justice System

January 2007

Positive Youth Development

Positive youth development (PYD) is an emerging model in the field of juvenile justice that concentrates on the healthy and productive upbringing of today’s youth. Rather than focusing only on the problems and deficits associated with youth in the juvenile justice system (the traditional model), PYD supports developmental programs that focus on children’s strengths, fostering positive relationships and supportive environments.

The integration of PYD into the current juvenile system provides opportunities to benefit children and communities alike. While the Massachusetts juvenile justice system has not yet fully embraced the PYD model, several agencies have adopted the PYD framework (e.g., the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Department of Youth Services and the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee) and the Youth Advocacy Department at the Committee for Public Counsel Services has implemented PYD throughout its work.

Examples of PYD assets:

Parent-Child Privilege

A child’s relationship with a parent is often the most important and intimate one in his or her life, and a parent is almost always a child’s gateway to religious, medical or legal help. Despite this, parents in the Commonwealth can be legally compelled to testify against their children in court. A parent-child privilege would allow parents to give their children the guidance and support they need without fear that it will be used against them.

LWOP (Life Without Parole)

Juvenile Life Without Parole: CfJJ Fact Sheet
July 2014

Children's Law Center of Massachusetts: Until They Die a Natural Death
September 2009

CHINS Reform (FACES)

Currently, the first stop for families seeking services for their children is the Massachusetts juvenile court system. This juvenile justice based system (CHINS) is confusing to families and unnecessarily exposes children to the juvenile justice system. CHINS reform will transform the current system into one that is community-based, family-centered, and easy to navigate, providing comprehensive services for children until the age of 19.

Department of Youth Services

The Department of Youth Services is the state agency responsible for secure detention for youth awaiting trial and for youth who have been adjudicated delinquent and sentenced to their custody.

DYS Budget: CfJJ Fact Sheet
March 2011

Romeo and Juliet Exception (Statutory Rape)

Massachusetts currently criminalizes all consentual sex acts with youth under 16. A Romeo and Juliet exception would remove criminal penalties for such behavior among peers.

Legislative Alert
March 2011

Girls

Girls comprise a sizable minority of the juvenile justice system, a system designed with the needs and behaviors of boys in mind. It is crucial that the juvenile justice system recognizes the particular risks and needs of system-involved girls and provide appropriate resources and programming for them.

Massachusetts Girls: CfJJ Fact Sheet
June 2005

Decriminalization of Teen Prostitution

Massachusetts is one of only four states that treat trafficked children as criminals. The Safe Harbor Bill is a crucial step towards recognizing that these exploited children are victims, not delinquents. An anti-trafficking law will help connect youths coerced into prostitution with the services and care they need, and will hold the true criminals – the pimps and johns – responsible with more severe penalties.