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Juvenile Justice Update | June 2024

June 10, 2024

Reducing Barriers to Reentry: Kansas and Colorado Focus on Education for Justice-Involved Youth

Lawmakers in Kansas and Colorado have passed legislation enhancing educational and employment opportunities for justice-involved youth.

Kansas's Senate Bill 420 allows young people in secure detention to leave the facility for educational or work programs. "This [bill] provides the mechanism for the Department of Corrections to allow those juveniles out under certain circumstances, to begin to reintegrate into society, get used to being around other people," remarked Republican Rep. Stephen Owens. Prior to the new law, youth were only allowed to leave a secure facility for medical treatment or if the individual was accompanied by a staff member or other designated adult. The bill passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House.

In Colorado, House Bill 1216 known as the Justice-Engaged Students in Education Act, was passed by the general assembly and is awaiting the governor's signature. If signed, young people would be statutorily granted the right to alternative education opportunities and prompt enrollment with curriculum providers, the ability to earn credit for coursework completed while under the purview of the court, the right to a graduation plan as well as access to gifted and talented programs and college preparation courses.

Bill sponsor Democratic Rep. Jennifer Bacon stated, "Our legislation would reduce recidivism by creating a Student Bill of Rights that prioritizes and ensures student success. This bill would allow us to better serve our students by giving them the tools and resources to develop skills they need to graduate, move on to postsecondary education opportunities, and build a thriving career."

Notably, the legislation also encourages courts to postpone commitment to the Division of Youth Services if the young person was adjudicated delinquent for an act that did not involve a physical offense or cause bodily harm. The state's school districts will also be required to publish resources on their websites and assign a point of contact for system-involved youth and the Department of Education is tasked with creating a hotline young people can call for legal advice, education options as well as other services and support. Colorado will appropriate just under $83,000 for fiscal year 2024-25 and over $100,000 in subsequent years to accomplish the provisions of the bill.

Learn more about juvenile reentry and the impact education and employment opportunities have on recidivism at

Research & Response: Connecticut's Juvenile Justice Equity Dashboard

In 2020, Connecticut's Improving Outcomes for Youth Statewide Task Force recommended the state develop a Juvenile Justice Equity Dashboard to track and assess justice involvement for young people of different genders, races, and ethnicities.

The dashboard will utilize four indicators-delinquent referrals, detention, non-judicial handling and disposition of first-time felony-to provide "aggregate, descriptive statistics that enable policymakers and public users access to juvenile justice system trends organized by demographic groupings." Additionally, according to the recommendation, the dashboard "will promote transparency and accountability towards improving the system."

Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system has been part of Connecticut's strategic plan since 2019 as outlined by the state's Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee. As part of this goal, the state has implemented three objectives in addition to the dashboard to help decrease the disproportionate impact of justice-system involvement on youth from ethnic and communities of color: 1) Ensure that race and ethnicity data and the strategies to address disparities are interpreted and developed in true partnership with communities of color; 2) Enhance and support opportunities for localized review (community oversight) of school and police practices and 3) Identify opportunities where inequities within the juvenile justice system can be effectively addressed.

Collected data for years 2019 to 2023, shows that Black youth were referred to court at a rate approximately five times higher than their white counterparts. Latino youth were issued delinquency referrals at a rate of 16 per 1,000 compared to 9 per 1,000 for white youth. Additionally, the number of referrals to formal court processing also varied by the city or town in which the young person lived.

According to local news, Connecticut is currently measuring disparities in referrals to diversion programs with the aim of releasing data reflecting race, age, gender and geographic location in July.

Read more about Connecticut's juvenile justice reforms.

From the Courts: New Rochelle Judge Creates Opportunities for Emerging Adults in the Justice System

It has been almost four years since Judge Jared Rice created New Rochelle City Court's Opportunity Youth Part in New York. Emerging adults ages 16 to 24 charged with certain misdemeanor or felony offenses are offered alternatives to incarceration by way of connections to services such as mentorship, workforce training, job support, educational opportunities as well as access to mental health treatment.

Participants are paired with a case manager and are assigned a wellness program. Regular check-ins with the court are required over an average of 12 to 18 months. If the program is completed successfully, the individual is likely to receive a more favorable disposition (e.g., a reduction of the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor or a misdemeanor to a violation) and can potentially have the offense removed from his or her record.

"When you put the resources in and look at these young people for who they are, you see that they're much more than what the justice system has labeled them to be," remarked Judge Rice. Since its inception, 80 young adults have successfully completed the program. In 90% of these cases, the charge was dropped from the individual's criminal record.

Opportunity Youth Part was awarded just over a million dollars in 2023 to implement the Community Youth Violence Intervention Initiative-a public health anti-violence intervention strategy aimed at reducing violence committed by emerging adults in New Rochelle, NY. The program also plans to incorporate restorative justice, housing as well as parenting resources in 2024.

Read a Q & A with Judge Rice.

The Latest in Data: Crimes Involving Juveniles, 1992-2022

Findings from a recent Department of Justice statistical briefing focusing on crimes involving young people include:

  • Minors comprised 9.9% of all arrests for violent crimes in 2022. This is an increase from 8.7% in 2021.

  • In 2021 and 2022, minors accounted for the largest number of arrests for carjacking compared to other violent crimes.

  • Between 1993 and 2022, rates of nonfatal violent victimization decreased for individuals ages 12 to 17, 18 to 24 and 25 or older.

  • For years 2018 to 2022, young people ages 18 to 24 had the highest rates of nonfatal violent victimization compared to youth ages 12 to 17 and individuals 25 or older.

  • From 1993 to 2022, nonfatal violent victimization rates declined for all three age groups examined.

  • Individuals 18 or older had the highest homicide victimization rates for years 2018 to 2022.

  • In 2021 and 2022, victims of nonfatal violent offenses perceived the perpetrator to be between the ages of 12 to 17 in less than 10% of cases. In both years, most of these offenses were committed by individuals 30 or older.

Juvenile Justice Publications and Resources

See the latest research and publications on juvenile justice policy.

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