The youth justice system was established in the late 1800s to separate youth from adults in prison and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. Government acted within a "parents patriae" (parent or guardian) role. This well-intended reform resulted in many youths being incarcerated or placed- often until adulthood- without the right to due process.
Efforts to 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), created 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 youth incarceration, and consequently we have seen significant reductions in the number of placements with increasing support for community-based alternatives. However, the impact of these reforms has not had a similar impact on Black and Brown youth, who despite legislation in 1988 and then in 1992 to reduce the disproportionate confinement of youth of color, continue to be disproportionately represented at every stage in the nation’s youth justice system. .
YAP advances a transformed less costly more effective and equitable youth justice system by demonstrating that young people, including youth considered at the highest risk with the highest needs, can be supported and rehabilitated safely from within their homes and communities.
YAP’s youth justice model is recognized by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as “Promising.” YAP has demonstrated that high-risk youth involved in the youth justice system can safely and effectively receive comprehensive rehabilitative services at home and in 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, delivers rehabilitative services, and provides reintegration support for youth transitioning out of these placements. Research shows YAP’s community-based programming is more successful in rehabilitating youth and reducing recidivism than incarceration, which research shows increases the risk factors related to recidivism.
Adhering to the fundamental principles of its model, YAP continually evolves its services to address the needs of youth whose life chances are over-determined by zip code and the color of their skin. This is our expertise.