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Families & Allies of Virginia's Youth is a diverse group of people who care about youth who are in the justice system in Virginia.
We support and empower families who have young people in the justice system. We share information and help people understand the juvenile justice system.
We also advocate for a justice system that gives youth a better chance to become successful adults.
These principles guide our advocacy:
- Reduce institutionalization of youth. Secure detention and incarceration should only be used for youth who pose serious public safety risks.
- Reduce racial and ethnic disparity. Youth of color are dramatically over-represented in Virginia's juvenile justice system. This "disproportionate minority contact" must be reduced.
- Create smaller, rehabilitative institutions. Large, remote prison-like facilities are ineffective. They should be replaced with smaller local facilities that provide appropriate programs and services.
- Create a range of community-based alternatives to incarceration. Alternative programs based in youths' communities are more effective in developing youth and keeping them from re-offending.
- Keep youth out of the adult criminal system. Youth tried as adults are much more likely to commit more crimes, to be abused, and to commit suicide, especially if they are held in adult jails and prisons.
- Maximize youth, family and community participation. Juvenile justice systems must partner with youth, families and communities to create better outcomes.
- Ensure meaningful access to legal counsel. Throughout the court process, all youth need access to attorneys who are qualified and have adequate resources and training.
- Improve aftercare and re-entry. Programs and services, education and/or job placement must be planned and coordinated to help young people succeed when they are released from secure facilities.
- Recognize and serve youth with special needs. Youth whose primary problems are mental health, substance abuse, learning, and developmental problems should not be dumped into the juvenile justice system.
- Hold systems accountable for youth outcomes. The juvenile justice system must be held accountable for keeping youth safe and providing the services and programs youth need to develop into productive adults.
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