Juvenile Justice

With $15M in grants, MacArthur establishes 4 juvenile justice reform centers


A longtime supporter of juvenile justice reform, the MacArthur Foundation has committed an additional $15 million to the effort, including the development of four juvenile justice reform centers as part of its as part of its Models for Change Resource Center Partnership.

The commitment brings the foundation’s total 20-year investment in juvenile justice reform to $165 million, according to a news release.

The aim of the new program is to provide judges, prosecutors, defenders, policymakers, advocates, probation officers, and mental health and social service agencies with technical assistance, trainings, tools, and resources to advance juvenile justice reform throughout the country.

“Reforms like the elimination of life without parole for juveniles and raising the age at which people are tried as juveniles are examples of progress toward a system that is fair, just, and humane in its treatment of our nation’s youth,” Laurie Garduque, director of justice reform for the MacArthur Foundation, said in the release. “There has been so much progress made over the past decade toward better outcomes for kids, their families, and their communities. But there is so much more to do, and juvenile justice reform must continue.”

The MacArthur funding has long been spurred by foundation-funded research showing that juveniles are different than adults and shouldn’t be treated the same as adult offenders.

The new initiative calls for four resource centers to be fully operational, in Boston and D.C., by the end of this year. The centers will focus on responding to mental health needs, legal defense for indigent youth, intervention for youth charged with offenses such as truancy and running away, and coordination of practice and policies with juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

The four centers include:

Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change: A training, technical assistance and education center led by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Inc.

National Juvenile Defender Center to improve access to counsel and quality of representation for children in the justice system.

Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice will use models, frameworks, tools, resources, and the best available research to serve local, state, and national leaders, practitioners, and youth-serving agencies to improve system performance and outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. This center will be led by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps.

Status Offense Reform Center will be led by the Vera Institute of Justice and will serve as a resource clearinghouse and assistance center for practitioners and policymakers, with an emphasis on diverting nondelinquent youth and their families from the formal juvenile justice system.

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