The youth justice system was established in the late 1800s to separate youth from adults in prison and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. The state acted within a "parens patriae" (parent or guardian) role. This well-intended reform resulted in many youth being incarcerated or placed- often until adulthood- without the right to due process.
Efforts to once again reform the system emerged with the 1964 Supreme Court ruling to provide youth with due process and the 1974 Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA), which began to help local and state agencies prevent delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system. More recent reforms recognize the ineffective and often harmful impact of incarceration of youth, and consequently we have seen significant reductions in the number of youth in placement with increasing support for community-based alternatives.
However, the impact of these reforms has not had a similar impact on Black, indigenous and youth of color (BIYOC). Despite legislation in 1988 and then in 1992 to reduce the disproportionate confinement of youth of color, BIYOC continue to disproportionately outnumber those who are white at every stage in the nation’s youth justice system.
YAP advances a transformed and equitable youth justice system by demonstrating that young people- even those considered high risk or high need- can be supported safely from within their homes and communities and develop their potential.
Our model is recognized by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as “Promising.” YAP proves that high-risk youth involved in the juvenile justice system can be safely and effectively served in home and community-based settings at a fraction of the cost of out-of-home placements.
YAP offers alternatives to detention and state incarceration, supports youth post-adjudication to help with compliance and other needs, and provides reintegration support for youth transitioning out of these placements. Research shows community-based programming is more successful in rehabilitating youth and reducing recidivism than incarceration, which research shows increases the risk factors related to recidivism.
YAP continually evolves services to address the needs of youth whose life chances are over-determined by zip code and the color of their skin. Our expertise is in working with youth and families most impacted by structural racism and other social determinants of health.