Rethink Justice: Equip young people for their future.
A commitment to equity requires us to prioritize youth justice reform in every U.S. state. True justice reform is driven by a vision where justice-involved young people inform effective practice, and are equipped with the resources and tools they need to lead successful, safe lives when they return to their communities. To achieve a more equitable and empathetic frame of justice, we must undo years of harmful assumptions about the justice system and the people involved.
We incarcerate more young people than any other developed nation. Youth crime is low and steadily declining, and this is especially true in states that have prioritized decarceration and community-based alternatives. Years of research shows that locking up kids and young adults does not make communities safer.
Our justice interventions are rooted in racism—a reality we must confront head on. Young people of color and those from poor urban, rural, and tribal communities have been disproportionately funneled into the justice system instead of being served through individualized programs and services focused on positive outcomes. It’s time for a restorative response that is grounded in brain science and what we know works, for young people and our communities.
Youth incarceration by the numbers.
youth of color are four times more likely to be incarcerated than white youth, though they do not commit more crimes
of confined youth are there for a technical violation
of children in confinement have at least one disability
Our commitments to transforming youth justice.
To help build a more equitable future for rising generations, our commitments center around reducing the contact young people have with the justice system.
Surface alternatives to incarceration at every level.
We commit to supporting movements of advocates, young leaders, and directly impacted communities to educate policymakers to adopt effective reforms. We commit to working toward solutions that provide young people with the supports they need to thrive, without coming into contact with the justice system.
Provide capacity-building infrastructure.
We commit to maintaining a platform to share knowledge and evidence, produce and adapt tools to support digital components of state campaigns, and cross-pollinate the learnings of all partners to continuously nourish the entire youth justice network.
Facilitate long-term narrative change.
We commit to supporting our allies to expand the narrative around youth justice in America, to raising awareness of this critical equity issue, and supporting young leaders and advocates focused on transforming our youth justice systems. We also commit to uplifting and connecting the stories and impact of diverse leaders working on equity and justice, in neighborhoods and at the national level.
Real efforts, real impact
We partner with and support efforts to change the way we think about justice at federal, state, and local levels.
A national coalition, and a landmark federal law to transform youth justice
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is the landmark federal law that sets standards and reporting requirements for state justice programs, and establishes core protections for youth. Its funds help states enact innovative reforms to support young people and reduce their involvement with the justice system. We support the social media strategy and digital advocacy aspects of the Act4JJ Campaign, a national coalition working to reauthorize, fully fund, and strengthen the JJDPA.
Raise the Age New York - and beyond
New York’s Raise the Age law ended the practice of automatically charging all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, no matter the offense. Now, most young people have their cases heard in family court with the intent of receiving age-appropriate interventions and supports; that’s good for young people and for public safety. The work is not done: advocates around the state continue to work together for broader reforms. We power the social media strategy and provide accessible, actionable updates about the law’s implementation, and what New York needs now to achieve #betteryouthjustice.
Historic criminal justice reform in Florida
Working closely with the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center, SparkAction led the social media components of the No Place for a Child campaign, a multi-year effort to end the practice of “direct file” for youth, culminating in Florida’s First Step Act, the first criminal justice reform package bill to pass Florida’s legislature in recent years.
Advancing youth justice in North Carolina
North Carolina was one of the last states to stop automatically charging 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for any offense. We provided social media guidance, action alerts, and content support to the state coalition working to improve North Carolina’s approach to youth justice.