Realizing Youth Justice

Realizing Youth Justice is an advocacy framework aimed at disrupting the devastating impact that criminal and juvenile justice systems have on youth of color and low-income youth. CLASP believes that strengthening investments in workforce, education, and health care is an anti-incarceration strategy that supports youth across the spectrum of justice involvement, including diversion and successful re-entry.

Disparities in school discipline, juvenile justice involvement, and community victimization are driving too many young men and women of color into—or deeper into—the criminal justice system. Black and American Indian K-12 students are referred from school to law enforcement at twice their rates in the student population. And youth of color who interact with the juvenile justice system are 35 percent less likely than whites to be diverted. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian young adults are dramatically overrepresented in the incarcerated population. Many of these youth faced significant challenges before their incarceration. Nearly 75 percent of young men and 66 percent of young women who are incarcerated don’t have a high school diploma. Among that group, almost half were unemployed the month before incarceration. All of these young people report traumatic histories and mental health struggles.

Despite the reemergence of harmful “law and order” rhetoric, as well as policy ideas like mandatory minimum sentencing and stop-and-frisk policing tactics, we remain committed to joining the growing bipartisan chorus of law enforcement officials, policymakers, youth leaders, and local communities calling for meaningful criminal and juvenile justice reform.

As our work continues to grow, check back for new resources and events that support Realizing Youth Justice. 




Highlights from CLASP’s 2016 youth of color  forum: