Youth involved in the juvenile justice system represent one of the most vulnerable populations in the United States. An important step to helping these youth is to develop a better understanding of how and why they become involved in the juvenile justice system, and some of the major obstacles that stand in the way of their successful transition into adulthood and economic self-sufficiency. Research and practice suggest that by addressing these youth’s specific developmental needs and with the involvement of caring adults substantially increases the likelihood that former youth offenders, with and without disabilities, will complete their education, become employed, an, ultimately, become productive members of society. Helping youth avoid or successfully transition from the juvenile justice system calls for a crucial collaboration between the various, including juvenile justice, education, workforce development, mental health, housing, other community institutions, youth, and their families.
This InfoBrief describes the characteristics of and issues faced by youth involved with the juvenile justice system, including those with disabilities. It provides a framework for youth service professionals to help these youth avoid or transition out of the juvenile justice system, promotes cross-systems collaboration, and highlights promising practices currently being implemented around the country. Based on Making the Right Turn: A Guide about Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System, this brief provides examples of promising practices for youth service professionals and policymakers.