Background on Youth Justice Milwaukee

Background on Youth Justice Milwaukee

There is an important and immediate window of opportunity for Youth Justice Milwaukee (YJM) to impact the county’s short and long-term plans. YJM is a broad-based campaign advocating for community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to incarceration in Wisconsin’s youth prisons. The coalition represents formerly incarcerated youth, families of youth involved in the juvenile justice system, service providers, and local and national youth justice advocates. Youth Justice Milwaukee will:

  • Coordinate community-centered advocacy strategies to impact the county’s plans: To date, there is no coordinated community-centered approach, advocacy plan, or communications effort among existing Milwaukee organizations on youth decarceration. YJM is facilitating the exchange of ideas and strategies, and has released recommendations to policymakers in a new report, Safer Communities, Stronger Families: Creating a Community-based Continuum of Community Services and Supports for Milwaukee’s Adjudicated Youth.

  • Ensure directly impacted constituencies are at the table: YJM is committed to building a broader constituency for change by expanding the depth, diversity and visibility of individuals from impacted communities leading decarceration efforts.
  • Bring a racial justice lens to juvenile justice reforms: YJM applies a racial justice lens to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and engage directly with individuals from impacted communities with limited or no involvement in youth justice reform efforts to date. YJM will monitor these efforts to ensure that racial and ethnic disparities decrease and that youth incarceration rates do not decrease at the expense of sending more children of color into adult court and adult prisons.
  • Complement the existing array of strategies: YJM will complement existing county initiatives to reduce youth detention through the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).
  • Youth Justice Milwaukee Goals:
    • To increase public safety by creating a continuum of community-based, non-residential services that will reduce risk and reduce racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system.
    • To end placement of adjudicated youth at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities
    • To increase meaningful engagement with families of youth in the system
    • To include community stakeholders in a data-driven, collaborative planning process to make juvenile services more transparent, accountable, and effective.

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