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Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice unites current and former youth correctional administrators to build a national movement, one that aims to shift systems away from the use of punitive sanctions and incarceration and focus instead on a more youth-, family-, and community-oriented vision of youth justice. We imagine a world where the tens of thousands of youth currently in custody are treated in the same ways that we would treat our own children, close to home, treated with dignity and respect, and given opportunities to grow and succeed. The large, punitive youth prisons, often located far from the communities and families of the youth, that still exist across the country must be replaced with community-based resources.

YCLJ brings together people who have run those facilities and understand what it takes to change systems, so that we can call for a new model of youth justice. Our Statement on Ending Youth Prisons, signed by all of our members, outlines this vision and the principles we propose for any youth justice system.


YCLJ is supported by the Columbia University Justice Lab, which combines original research, policy development, and community engagement to propel the project of justice reform.