Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

Info Resource #1:      

The Real Costs and Benefits of Change: Finding Opportunities for Reform During Difficult Fiscal Times (  This is an excellent publication by the National Juvenile Justice Network that came out in June, 2010 that quantifies the cost savings and benefits of legislation like the Youth PROMISE Act.  It explains some of the financial nuances that have rewarded judicial behavior (sentencing) of non-violent offenders into expensive and non-rehabilitative State Institutions, rather than diverting them into efficacious community-based alternatives.  This publication contains lots of good strategies and tactics for advocates to use to eventuate beneficial and cost-effective juvenile justice reform, which in our case means the implementation of the Youth PROMISE Act.


Info Resource #2:      

Review of Effective Practice in Juvenile Justice (  This is a great publication (January, 2010) created for the New South Wales (Australia's most populous state) Minister for Juvenile Justice by Noetic Solutions Pty Ltd, a strategic management and knowledge consulting firm specializing in the business of government.  This report is globally illuminating in that it summarizes Youth Juvenile Justice systems in some of the major countries of the world.  The fundamental models that countries employ are described below:

  • The ‘Justice model’ which is prevalent in English speaking countries (except Scotland) and the Netherlands. It is about holding young people accountable for the actions, enforcing punitive measures and ensuring that due process is followed.
  • The ‘Welfare model’ which is common in areas of Europe including Germany, France, Belgium as well as East Europe. It is based on informality of proceedings and interventions are developed based on the best interests of the young person.

  • ‘Hybrid model’ which exists in Scandinavia and Scotland and incorporates a mix of justice and welfare elements.

Probably the most significant take-away from this report for us is that Canada implemented its version of the Youth PROMISE ACT in April 2003 known as the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)The report by Noetic deems it a successful implementation with achievement of its goals of diversion of youth into community-based alternatives resulting in reduced youth incarceration.  To see other independent evaluations of the YCJA which I have compiled, that in general, view it as a success, please go to ??


An area of improvement I picked up on from reading the evaluation comments of the Canadian YCJA was the need for greater availability and a wider assortment of community-based alternatives for Canadian youth to be diverted into.  It doesn’t sound like Canada had provided sufficient funding for the YCJA to make this happen.  With a relatively modest price tag of $1.9 billion over a five-year time period ($7 per American), the Youth PROMISE Act appears well positioned to capitalize on Canada’s implementation experience by ensuring there is sufficient funding up front for evidence-based community alternatives that are proven to reduce recidivism.


Info Resource #3:      

Evaluating Federal Gang Bills (  This is a wonderful publication by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, founded in 1907, as “a nonprofit organization that promotes effective, humane, fair, and economically sound solutions to family, community, and justice problems”.   What’s especially important for those of us living in California is that this report soundly analyzes and finds wanting the Senate bill (S132) introduced by Senator Feinstein and supported by Senator Boxer.  Senator Feinstein’s bill known as the “Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2009” calls “for suppression-heavy strategies, increasing punishments for gang crimes, and expanding the types of crimes that can be categorized as such.  Years of research and evaluation have shown that these types of suppression strategies are not the solution to the gang problem.”   Senator Feinstein’s bill proposes “more than $1 billion in duplicative suppression, prosecution, and incarceration of “gangs” and “gang members,” leaving little money for community-based prevention and intervention programs that have been proven to work.”


In contrast to the failure-laden policies of S132, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency report recognizes that the Youth PROMISE Act supports “effective programs based in the community; such programs have been shown to be more effective in community settings than in custodial settings.  It is more effective to work with youth in the community, than to wait until they are incarcerated.” 

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