U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Nothing About Us Without Us! The Failure of the Modern Juvenile Justice System and a Call for Community-Based Justice

NCJ Number
Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2013 Pages: 1-53
Charisa Smith Esq.
Date Published
March 2013
54 pages
This article addresses the ways that many types of delinquent youth behavior is normative, and suggests community-based strategies that are appropriate for both youth and society.
As noted in the article, there is no Federal juvenile justice system in the United States, but rather 50 separate systems with a wide variety of statutes, values, norms, practices, programs, and leadership structures. In addition, it is noted that these systems tend to work primarily for White, middle and upper class youth who engage in trouble-making behaviors yet manage to avoid police and court involvement altogether. This article intends to show that the racial disparities that are present in these systems can be reduced through the use of community-based strategies that are appropriate for both youth and society. These strategies should entail the following: empowerment of communities and youth who must deal with mass over-incarceration, poverty, violence, and under-performing schools; cultural competence legal service delivery, capacity-building, and advising; support for the formation of social bonds across structural, perceived, and actual boundaries; support for public and private sectors; the ability to hold government agencies accountable, including law enforcement; and a foundation system rooted in human rights laws and norms. The article examines the different stages of the juvenile justice system and discusses how each can be improved through the use of community-based strategies. These stages are arrest, court, and incarceration. The article also provides examples of community-based strategies that have been successfully implemented in communities around the country. References