Over 20,000 youth in Los Angeles County per year interface with the largest juvenile probation system in the nation. A large body of research demonstrates that formerly incarcerated youth face major challenges in achieving a successful and healthy transition back to the community and into young adulthood. Statistics show that 50- 80% of formerly incarcerated youth will have repeat contact with the juvenile or adult justice system within a few years of release1 and that less than 20% will earn a high school diploma2. The poor outcomes associated with youth reentry disproportionately and negatively impact families, schools, and communities in low-income and high crime neighborhoods.
In response to these major concerns, a group of leading experts from the UCLA School of Public Affairs formed the Juvenile Justice and Reentry Project. The initial goals of the project were to understand the needs of returning youth offenders and the barriers they may face in meeting these needs, and then to apply these findings to reentry policy and practice. The JJRP envisions Los Angeles as a City and County where youth who exit the juvenile justice system are able to reintegrate successfully to their homes, schools, and neighborhoods and thrive in their transition to adulthood.
To realize this vision, the JJRP seeks to apply a social welfare approach to youth and young adult reentry by focusing on the whole system surrounding the young person – his or her peers, family, neighborhood, and larger forces such as the economy and the availability of jobs. In this way, JJRP will become a leading information center of best treatment and intervention practices that promote the successful community reintegration of youth offenders, as well as a resource and model for juvenile justice and reentry initiatives in other areas of the country.
As first steps in this process, JJRP is
2National Center for Education Statistics. (2001). Dropout rates in the United States: 2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.