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Fundamental fairness

All participants in a model system—including youth, victims, and families—receive fair and unbiased treatment. Real-life juvenile justice systems aiming at the broad goal of fundamental fairness will not all look alike. But all will present certain characteristic features and practices:

Nondiscrimination-Decision-making is free of bias.

  • Use of structured guidelines to limit arbitrary decision-making at all stages
  • Monitoring of differential impact of decisions on minorities
  • Gender-appropriate, developmentally appropriate, culturally competent interventions
  • Minority recruitment, hiring, participation in planning and policy-making

Due process-Procedures give the accused a fair chance to be heard and understood.

  • Access to counsel
  • Continuity of representation through all stages
  • Realistic caseloads
  • Prompt trials/timely process
  • Specialized professional training

Inclusion-Views and concerns of victims, family members, and others who have a valid stake in the just resolution of each case are respected.

  • Open hearing practices
  • Mechanisms (plain-language notification, courtroom orientation, interpreters, etc.) that encourage broad hearing participation
  • Scheduling practices that reserve adequate blocks of time for inclusive hearings
  • Victim notification, accommodation, and advocacy


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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.