Advocating for Juvenile Justice

Black and Latino youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system. The Center for Children's Advocacy's work is tackling the disparities.

Center for Children's Advocacy is the largest children's legal rights organization in New England.

Center for Children's Advocacy works to reduce racial and ethnic disparities

Black and Latino youth are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system and disproportionately expelled or suspended from school. Recent work by the Center for Children's Advocacy (CCA) is tackling these disparities by successfully pushing reforms through the schools and courts.

In New Haven, the CCA used funds from The Community Foundation to work with city and public school officials to standardize a support network for youths discharged from incarceration. Funding for this work was made possible, in part, thanks to The Foundation's reentry strategy to create opportunities for and improve the lives of people released from incarceration.

CCA helped craft a new youth reentry protocol for New Haven Public Schools that establishes a pre-release team that engages youth prior to reentry, beginning 90 days before discharge. The protocol also requires that discharged youth receive an orientation with the pre-release team, a risk assessment with a clinician to determine community services needed, one-on-one engagement with a case manager, and development of a transition plan that addresses educational reentry, housing, safety, and basic needs.

CCA's work on the reentry protocol was part of its Racial and Ethnic Disparities Reduction Project. In other work, the project helped the New Haven Juvenile Probation and the Juvenile Review Board (JRB) collaborate to ensure that New Haven youth who are arrested for minor offenses in neighboring towns are diverted to the JRB as an alternative to court involvement.

In another success, CCA advocated for the passage of Public Act No. 17-25, AN ACT CONCERNING "SEXTING" BY A CHILD, which ensures that all children under eighteen years of age are not charged with a felony for sexting behavior and are instead charged with a misdemeanor.

Did you know?

More than half of the men released from Connecticut Department of Corrections facilities (DOC) had been incarcerated before age 22. Source: OPM - Criminal Justice Policy & Planning Division CT recidivism rates, 2014 cohort.
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This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Originally published in 2018; updated Aug 2021