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Community-based alternatives

Local alternatives to formal processing and incarceration

Most young people who get into trouble with the law do not need to be formally processed or held in custody. In fact, such measures often do serious damage by disrupting the bonds that connect youth to their families and communities. Unfortunately, the juvenile justice system often errs on the side of formal handling and incarceration. Juvenile facilities are filled with low-level youth who could be safely and effectively managed in other settings. The confinement of low-level delinquents is costly for communities, and doesn’t serve public safety.

Models for Change is working to preserve the vital connections between youth, families and communities by promoting reforms that safely hold youth accountable in local settings.  Illiniois, Louisiana and Washington have selected the issue as a targeted area of improvement, and are working to strengthen and expand the network of community-based alternative services and programs, and to reserve formal coercion and commitment for only the most serious cases.

With diminished system reliance on the formal processing and confinement of youth, and the expansion of community based alternatives, Models for Change is promoting models that maintain the crucial ties that young people need for healthy development.