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Right-sizing jurisdiction

Restoring policies and jurisdictional boundaries that recognize the real developmental differences between youth and adults

Recent scientific research has dramatically demonstrated what adults have long understood about adolescents: they are developmentally different than adults. The juvenile justice system was created both to hold young people accountable and to provide for their rehabilitation, yet the boundaries and distinctive features of juvenile justice have become dangerously unsettled in the past few decades. Far beyond any “safety valve” for only the most serious cases, automatic transfer laws sweep youth traditionally capable of benefiting from treatment and rehabilitation in the juvenile system into the adult system, where they are more likely to be harmed and to re-offend once released. 

Models for Change is supporting a broad-based effort to “right-size” the boundaries of the juvenile justice system, and preserve its century-old commitment to individualized treatment and recognition of developmental differences, and Illinois has selected the issue as a targeted area of improvement.

Through reforms in policies, practices and laws, Models for Change is working to keep young people in the juvenile justice system, where they can receive the most developmentally and individually appropriate treatment to help them turn their lives around.

Supported by

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