The Delaware Center for Justice supports policies and practices that are fair, equitable and developmentally appropriate for youth involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the justice system.

In the event a youth makes a bad decision, breaks rules, or even breaks the law, it is important that age appropriate sentencing and community-based services are provided. Involved adults are also necessary to keep young people active in their own rehabilitation. Using techniques such as diversion programs and family conferencing, jurisdictions are learning to work with parents—not against them—for the benefit of youth.

DCJ strongly believes that no kids, regardless of their crime, belong in the adult system. Research has revealed that the front lobe, which develops impulse control, does not fully develop until around age 25. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system does not protect the community and substantially increases the likelihood that youth will re-offend.  Studies show that youth held in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide and are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization.

When youth do come into contact with the system, their records require special sensitivity due to their age. A juvenile record can affect an individual’s ability to obtain housing, employment, and education (including college acceptance). DCJ advocates for legislation that creates pathways for individuals with juvenile records to receive expungements for prior arrest and/or adjudications on their record. DCJ believes children should be given the opportunity to move forward from their delinquency matters so that such will not negatively impact their future.

To learn more about specific reform activities pertaining to juvenile justice, please refer to DCJ’s Advocacy Agenda and subscribe to our email list for pertinent action alerts and updates.