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Youth Justice Milwaukee adheres to the following ten core principles in our work to ensure a fairer, safer, more effective, more cost-efficient juvenile justice system in Wisconsin.  These principles are grounded in research that shows that our over-reliance on incarceration and confinement does not work for young people and does not make our communities safer.  Instead of getting the support they need in the communities they come from, these young people are funneled through a system that is inhumane, unsafe, costly and full of racial and ethnic disparities.


  1. We will center young people and families in our advocacy for transforming the juvenile justice system.
  2. We will only achieve true public safety when we promote everyone’s well-being and when young people have the opportunity to heal and thrive.
  3. We believe in trauma-informed, restorative, community-centered approaches that use the least restrictive environments available.
  4. We believe in keeping families together and building solutions with the entire family.
  5. We do not write off or give up on youth – young people deserve unconditional love.
  6. We believe that we should treat youth and families with the utmost dignity and respect.
  7. We will be culturally sensitive, humble, and seek to eliminate racial and ethnic bias.
  8. To achieve racial equity, we have to transform the way the justice system treats youth of color from their first interaction with a police officer and in every part of the system.
  9. To achieve real and lasting change, we should not only seek to move people in positions of power, but also to build power in our communities.
  10. We will root our work within the larger social, historical and political context and work to make sure the community sees these larger systems.
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