Brief Youth Prison Reform in the COVID Era
Subtitle
Lessons Learned from Three States
Samantha Harvell, Arielle Jackson, Constance Hull, Colette Marcellin, Leah Sakala
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As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, jurisdictions across the country are grappling with how to continue to adapt to the evolving health crisis. This includes youth legal system agencies, many of which quickly pivoted in the Spring of 2020 to reduce youth incarceration and support youth in the community but are seeing the number of youth behind bars creep back up over the past year. This brief and associated fact sheet summarize how three states – Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey – reduced incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic and invested in community supports and services for youth and families. Each state took a unique approach to policy and practice change which were championed by a wide range of stakeholders including governors, legislators, and judicial and correctional agency leaders. Taken together, the examples provide several options for reducing youth incarceration and investing in more effective strategies to prevent harm and support youth accountability and needs.

Read the fact sheet.
The fact sheet was revised June 21, 2022, to add an author’s name to an “Additional Reading” listing.

Research Areas Crime, justice, and safety Children and youth
Tags Alternatives to incarceration COVID-19 Delinquency and crime Juvenile justice Kids in context Racial and ethnic disparities Youth development
Policy Centers Justice Policy Center
States Maryland Massachusetts New Jersey