Julia Lesnick is an emerging scholar of youth justice. Her research agenda aims to shift policy, practice, and public narratives investing in youth to pursue a more just society. She takes a multi-disciplinary approach grounded in social welfare, sociology and developmental psychology to examine the following areas: young people’s experiences with policy advocacy and implementation; the use of evidence to inform juvenile system change; emerging alternative models of youth justice practice; and public and political narratives about youth justice.
As a second-year doctoral student at UCLA, Julia’s research focuses on juvenile legal system change. Some of her recent and ongoing projects include a first-authored critical review of paradigms influencing national trends of juvenile system reform, leading a qualitative study of stakeholders’ visions for the future of youth justice, conducting a comprehensive synthesis of evidence on credible messenger mentoring with youth in the juvenile system, collecting data for evaluation of a youth re-entry program, and serving as a research consultant for the state of California in the implementation of juvenile justice reform legislation.
In addition to her research at UCLA, Julia is a practitioner and advocate for justice. Prior to UCLA, she worked as a program analyst at the NYC Division of Youth and Family Justice and in community-based social services, as a therapist and case manager for youth on probation, and as a teacher in prison-based college degree program.
Ultimately, Julia aspires to a career conducting research that advances equitable, youth-centered, and community-led change in youth justice policy and practice. She aims to contribute innovative, applied research that bridges organizing, science, policy, and practice to promote socially just youth policy.