Session: Youth Justice at a Crossroads: A Discussion of Visions for the Next Horizon (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

284 Youth Justice at a Crossroads: A Discussion of Visions for the Next Horizon

Sunday, January 15, 2023: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Camelback A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice
Julia Lesnick, University of California-Los Angeles
Laura Abrams, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Durrell Washington, MSW, University of Chicago, Karen Kolivoski, PhD, MSW, Howard University and Charles Lea, PhD, MSW, University of Houston
The U.S. juvenile legal system has undergone significant transformation in the last 20 years, mostly centering on reforms aligned with developmental science. Having achieved a basis of understanding that youth are developmentally different from adults, youth justice has again reached a crossroads in its path for where to go next. While some champion the efficacy of reforms and argue their continued pursuit, others emphasize the limitations of reforms and continued concerns with the juvenile legal system, calling instead for a more transformative path of abolition.

This question of continuing reform or shifting to transformation has substantial implications for social workers' advocacy, research, and practice, which play a pivotal role in shaping how we understand and respond to young people who come in contact with the law. Navigating these tensions is important for social workers to effect sustainable and impactful change in the polarized and complicated landscape of youth justice in the U.S.

In this roundtable dialogue, we bring together diverse perspectives on the future of youth justice in the U.S. Following a brief synopsis from the organizer on major trends in reforms leading to the contemporary state of youth justice, speakers will discuss their various positions on the merits and concerns with strategies for change, along with the relevant research base (qualitative/quantitative/mixed methods). Considerations will include the implications for equity, the well-being of youth and communities, and capacity to match the challenges of an increasingly uncertain and complex world. One speaker will focus on abolition; another will focus on cross-over youth, trauma, and equity; another speaker will present research on youth justice policy and corrections; and the fourth speaker will focus on racial justice in youth development. The organizer will provide background on additional paradigms that have been influential in recent youth justice reform including developmental neuroscience, children's rights, and the evidence-based/ medical model.

This session aims to offer participants a representative picture of the values, research considerations, and science pertaining to youth justice for the future. We intend to stimulate a constructive dialogue to support with greater collaboration across perspectives and research paradigms to set a platform for social work research.

See more of: Roundtables