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Alternatives for Youth's Advocacy Program: Reducing Minority Youth Incarceration Placements in Cleveland, Ohio

NCJ Number
Juvenile and Family Court Journal Volume: 59 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2008 Pages: 1-17
Christopher A. Mallett; Linda Julian
Date Published
17 pages
This article reports on the results of an innovative legal advocacy program representing primarily minority, felony-offending youth within the juvenile court of Cuyahoga County, OH.
Results found that the Alternatives for Youth's Advocacy Program (AFY) reduced detention center placement days by 47 percent and decreased State facility incarceration days by 74 percent (total cost savings $625,898). AFY addresses juvenile delinquents using a holistic approach the includes the provision of civil legal representation to assist youths in accessing disability services and defense attorney support in dispositional planning to reduce juvenile offender placements. Half of the youths involved in AFY were in need of mental health and/or special education disability services, provided for through the program's advocacy and representation efforts. These disability and vocational services identified youth through evaluations, family work, and legal advocacy and helped many of the youths avoid further juvenile justice system penetration. While no panacea, the addition of the AFY program provided these youths with efforts and advocacy comparable to what all offenders receive from the public defender's office (or assigned counsel) and subsequently from the juvenile court; however, AFY acted in a more timely and thorough fashion, giving each youth and family the opportunity to identify current needs. Tables and references