Because Kids are Different: Five Opportunities for Reforming the Juvenile Justice System

The adolescent developmental approach has begun to pave the way for reform in the juvenile justice field. New understandings of adolescents' brain functions and behavior as they mature has led to a change in the way policymakers, stakeholders, practitioners and advocates are thinking. New innovations in policy and practice have made the shift to ensure that the current treatment of involved youth is rehabilitative and compatible with healthy development while still taking into consideration accountability and safety.
 
This report seeks to frame five important issues seen in the juvenile justice field in the light of this adolescent development research. These five being:
 1. prosecution of youth in the adult criminal system;
 2. solitary confinement;
 3. confidentiality of juvenile records;
 4. registries for youth who commit sex offenses; and
 5. courtroom shackling.
 
By examining how and why these practices are harmful to youth's development, and in turn harmful to all of society, the report attempts to inform the juvenile justice reform field as well as push them to take strategic action to diverge from these inappropriate practices.