Collaborating for Successful Reentry: A Practical Guide to Support Justice-Involved Young People Returning to the Community
Date:  03-15-2019

Needs of young people must not only be addressed, but also understood
From Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice:


Every year, thousands of young people are released from juvenile correctional institutions nationwide. When released, they face immediate challenges as they attempt to reintegrate into the community where they confront significant barriers to success. Many researchers have noted how difficult it is for young people to change their lives after a period of justice system involvement.1 Many youth are sent to out-of-home placement for misdemeanors, non-violent offenses, and include violating curfew, skipping school or running away from home. For example, in 2014, U.S juvenile courts petitioned 100,100 status offense cases, and 4,200 involved secure detention.2 Youth confinement, which occurs when youth are charged as juveniles and sentenced to juvenile facilities, and/or incarceration, which occurs when youth have been sentenced under the adult criminal justice system, disrupts their lives and removes them from families, schools, and communities. During a period of confinement or incarceration, youth are disconnected from school which often results in falling further behind their peers academically. The removal from one’s school community and extracurricular activities uproots a young person from their support system. The disconnection from one’s family, friends and community impairs the potential for successful reintegration following a period of out-of-home placement or institutional confinement.3 For young people, these challenges are complicated by the already trying transition from adolescence to adulthood.4 Whenever possible and appropriate, youth should remain at home and in their communities where they can receive relevant support.

Understanding how to support youth when they are returning from a period of confinement requires understanding the harm it inflicts upon a young person during this crucial period of development. Confinement or incarceration exposes youth to trauma, creates forced dependency, excludes them from educational opportunity, offers few prospects for skill development, and often results in diminished psychological health. For young people who have spent years in institutions, the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to live on their own may be nonexistent. Within these institutions, they must adjust to an environment where daily decisions are made for them, including when to get up, when and what to eat, and what to wear. The institution is, in effect, the Upon release, they go from a tightly structured and regimented institution to communities where their lives are relatively unstructured and independent.5 Furthermore, many young people are exposed to traumatic experiences while confined, including frequent violence and sexual assault, with high percentages showing posttraumatic stress symptoms.6 Continue reading >>>