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NLC Municipal Action Guide: Increasing Public Safety and Improving Outcomes for Youth through Juvenile Justice Reform

Published Dec 8, 2014, National League of Cities

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City leaders can increase public safety and improve outcomes for young residents
by changing how their cities respond to young people implicated in delinquent
acts or accused of crimes. When city policies end up channeling large numbers of
youth into a juvenile justice system that emphasizes arrests and detention, these
policies inadvertently jeopardize rather than enhance public safety and security,
particularly in high-crime neighborhoods. At the same time, when young people who
come to the attention of law enforcement for low-level offenses (e.g., school truancy,
drug use or petty theft) are treated as more serious criminals, these decisions reduce
the likelihood that these youth can regain their footing and greatly diminish their
future prospects.

The National League of Cities Institute for Youth Education and Families Municipal Action Guide feature:

  • the need for juvenile justice reform by cities,
  • strategies and action steps local leaders can take to increase public safety and improve youth outcomes in their cities, and
  • local examples of success. 

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