Continuum of Community Based Alternatives
Cities of varying sizes are contributing in important ways to juvenile justice reform. Policies for police-youth contact and arrests fall squarely in the purview of city officials, and cities are also well positioned to support the networks of community-based agencies most capable of holding youth accountable while supporting their development. Progress must include breaking down collaboration barriers among agencies and service providers that touch young people. Through strong partnerships cities can implement a continuum of high-quality community-based services for their youth.
NLC's municipal action guide, Increasing Public Safety and Improving Outcomes for Youth through Juvenile Justice Reform, introduces city leaders to opportunities for city-led juvenile justice reform. The MAG identifies key questions leaders and other stakeholders might ask to identify first steps to reforms, including:
• What data do city and juvenile justice agencies collect about youth and families with whom they come into contact?
• What do these data reveal about the outcomes for the city's youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system?
• What services are currently available to youth and families, and how effective are these services?
• What partnerships already exist among youth-serving agencies?
The guide also highlights several local examples, including innovative programs and policies in Gainesville, Fla., Minneapolis and Baltimore.
Using the municipal action guide as a foundation, the YEF Institute launched a 14-month technical assistance initiative with six cities for juvenile justice reform projects. NLC selected these cities to join the initiative:
• Gresham, Ore.
• Las Vegas, Nev.
• Little Rock, Ark.
• Minneapolis, Minn.
• New Orleans, La.
• Philadelphia, Pa.
The technical assistance included a Mayor's Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform, development of action plans, and opportunities for the selected cities to come together to learn from each other and share best practices. National experts also worked with cities to ensure reforms were based on the evidence of what works from successful initiatives in other localities.