MacArthur announced six grants totaling nearly $4.2 million to help accelerate promising models for juvenile justice reform as part of its national Models for Change initiative. Four grants for $1.4 million will support activities in Illinois, and two additional grants will assist work in all four states participating in the initiative – Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Washington.
“Over 80 percent of young people who are incarcerated go on to commit crimes as adults,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “But juvenile offenders do not need to be condemned to a life of crime and prison. Research shows they can get back on the right track—if the juvenile justice system works the way we know that it can. Recognizing individual differences, offering non-violent offenders alternatives to incarceration, promoting education, and providing support services after prison are key elements to an approach grounded in the belief that young people can be redeemed. With such a system in place, there will be fewer crimes, fewer adults in prison, more functional families, and more stable communities. Investing in individuals who are in trouble or at risk ultimately benefits all of us.”
MacArthur’s Models for Change initiative is designed to help participating states build on reform efforts already underway and to encourage the development of reform models that can be applied in other jurisdictions. Model systems are rational, effective and recognize the developmental differences between adolescents and adults. These systems hold young offenders accountable for their actions, provide for their rehabilitation, protect them from harm, increase their life chances and manage the risk they pose to themselves and to public safety. Since launching the initiative more than a year ago, the Foundation has committed $30 million for efforts in the focus states, which were selected based on a variety of criteria that identified them as well-positioned for reform.
The following four grants were awarded for efforts to accelerate juvenile justice reform in Illinois. Activities in the state are focused on developing community-based alternatives to incarceration, reducing the disproportionate number of minority youth in the system, and expanding juvenile court jurisdiction.
Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s ChildLaw Center, which coordinates Models for Change activities in Illinois, will receive a grant of $750,000 over three years to help develop and carry out a plan for juvenile justice reform in the state.
A grant of $250,000 over two years will be awarded to the Chicago Area Project to help increase the number of community-based services and sanctions to address youth crime and to increase the use of such alternatives to incarceration.
Community Justice for Youth will receive a grant of $250,000 over two years to demonstrate how work it has carried out in Chicago communities to divert youth of color from the juvenile justice system to community-based services has utility and value statewide. Grant funds will be used to refine its model in Chicago to include decision points beyond diversion, and to provide technical assistance at four model demonstration sites across the state.
A grant of $150,000 over two years will be awarded to the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice Project to provide training and technical assistance on balanced and restorative justice practices to the four demonstration sites across the state, and for efforts to expand its membership network and provide membership services.
The following two grants will be awarded for work across all four participating states.
The Center for Children’s Law and Policy will receive a grant of $1.5 million over three years to help reduce the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice systems and mitigate disparities in their treatment. In all four states, grant funds will be used to improve data collection and reporting practices, to identify decision points where differential treatment of minority youth occurs, to use the data to develop and implement interventions to reduce disparities and address bias in decision-making, and to monitor progress.
A grant of $1.275 million over three years will be awarded to the National Juvenile Defender Center to provide training for juvenile justice professionals in the four states. Grant funds will be used to provide professional development and training to juvenile court staff, to build and strengthen the capacity of the juvenile defense bar, and to coordinate the update and revision of the Juvenile Court curriculum that was developed ten years ago by other MacArthur grantees.