Youth Justice Board

The 2014-2015 Youth Justice Board will look at how to reduce the number of youth in the justice system by looking at the options police officers have at the moment of arrest. Know a young person who would be a great fit for the program? Interested in becoming a member yourself? APPLY ONLINE HERE.

Overview

Founded in 2004, the Youth Justice Board is an after-school program that brings together young people to study and propose solutions to the public safety challenges that most affect them. Board members serve as a credible voice for youth in the public debate about juvenile justice policy in New York City, providing decision-makers with substantive input from this historically underrepresented group. Each program cycle, a team of 15 to 20 New York City teenagers studies an important issue affecting young people in the city. During the 2012-2014 program cycle, the Youth Justice Board is focusing on school truancy and chronic absenteeism. In June 2013, the Board released ten recommendations on improving school attendance in From Absent to Present, its newest report.

Juvenile justice and public safety issues that members of the Youth Justice Board have addressed previously include:

Participants present their recommendations to key policymakers and then partner with local stakeholders to implement their ideas and make a lasting impact on local policies. Members of the Board participate in intensive training in research and critical thinking, developing skills and gaining leadership experience along the way.

Want to learn more? Watch a video about the Youth Justice Board made by Columbia Teachers College’s Education Lab.

How It Works

Recruitment: Members are selected through a competitive process from a large applicant pool. Criteria for selection include interest in the topic, commitment to working on a long-term project, and willingness to work as part of a team. The Board represents the diversity of New York City, and includes a wide range of skills and perspectives.

Training: Members receive intensive training, beginning with a weekend retreat in upstate New York where members participate in team-building activities and begin their exploration of the selected topic. Later training covers research, consensus building, listening and interviewing skills, public speaking, and ‘New York Civics 101’ to learn how policy decisions are made and implemented in New York City.

Fieldwork: The Youth Justice Board designs and implements a work plan that includes interviews, focus groups, and direct observation. The Board interviews a wide range of stakeholders—professionals in the field, community members, advocates, public officials, and young people affected by the issue. Members work in small teams to plan and conduct the interviews then compile the information from the interviews to share with other Board members. Past interview subjects have included the Chief Administrative Judge of New York City Family Court, the New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, the New York City Law Department, and the Legal Aid Society. The Board also runs focus groups, typically composed of young people affected by the issue being investigated. The focus groups enable the Youth Justice Board to hear directly from a diverse collection of young people, resulting in recommendations that genuinely reflect young people’s points of view.

Policy Development: The Board’s research culminates in the development of policy proposals for policymakers and City officials. As part of the process of developing recommendations, the Board invites input from stakeholders, including other young people and professionals in the field. The Board then issues a final report and holds a series of meetings to present its policy recommendations directly to relevant officials and policymakers; past presentations have been made to the Chancellor of the Department of Education, the New York City Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office, the New York City Council, the New York State Assembly, the New York State Judicial Training Institute and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development.

Taking Action: After presenting its recommendations, the Board develops and executes strategies to facilitate the implementation of their recommendations. Strategies have included advocating for their ideas directly with key agencies, designing and implementing pilot initiatives, developing materials to assist other youth, and building partnerships with other organizations addressing the same topic.

Alumni Activities: The program continues to work with and support members after they complete the program. Many alumni continue to advocate for implementation of the Board’s recommendations. In addition, alumni remain citizen leaders, taking on leadership positions in their schools, interning with related organizations, and pursuing civic-minded activities in their communities.

Featured Research

Video

Youth Truancy Project

Youth Truancy Project

By Members of the Youth Justice Board

This video, created by the Youth Justice Board with support from the Mayor’s Interagency Taskforce on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & School Engagement, features members of the Youth Justice Board and the Greenpoint Youth Court. These students share the reasons that they go to school every day, and why they think going to school is important.

Publications

From Absent to Present: Reducing Teen Chronic Absenteeism in New York City

From Absent to Present: Reducing Teen Chronic Absenteeism in New York City

By Members of the Youth Justice Board

This report, researched and written by the members of the 2012-13 Youth Justice Board, presents 10 recommendations with the goal of helping all teens attend school regularly.

Publications

The Police-Youth Action Plan

The Police-Youth Action Plan

By Members of the Youth Justice Board

The Youth Justice Board made The Police-Youth Action Plan to educate teens about what they can do to improve relationships with police in their communities and across the city. The Board believes that teens should be able to take action on their own, and this guide provides strategies and resources to help them do so.  Contact us with questions about how to get started at yjb@courtinnovation.org or 646-386-5925.

Contact
  • New York
  • 520 8th Avenue
  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • One Park Place
  • 300 South State Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13202
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
  • Kean House, 6 Kean Street
  • London, WC2B 4AS
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060