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.