By: Sophia Booker
According to the Kids Count Data in 2013, Virginia had 1,563 youth residing in Juvenile Detention, Correctional and/ or residential facilities.
Youth involved in the juvenile justice system have a variety of needs. The experience can be stressful and diminish their hope of reaching their goals and aspirations. Youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system may have experienced some form of trauma. Before entering the system, youth may have experienced situations that resulted in trauma related stressors and never received trauma focused services. Examples can include experiences of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.), neglect, natural disasters, loss, environmental factors, domestic violence, among other factors. After leaving the juvenile justice system, children can experience even greater symptoms of trauma depending on the treatment they received during their time in the system.
Youth who are or were involved in the justice system deserve a chance to start fresh, a second chance.
It can be difficult for youth to reintegrate back into the community when there are no local support programs available to them. Youth may face challenges finding housing, going back to school, and/or employment. That is why Voices supports the closure of Virginia’s juvenile prisons and the proposal to re-invest savings from their closures into evidence-informed, community-based alternatives that will keep youth at home with their families and communities and keep communities safer.
When working with youth in this population, it is important to understand the trauma youth may have experienced and provide resources to meet their needs. Communication, advocacy, and self-awareness are key to success. Professionals working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system must be self-aware, recognizing their own biases and values and putting them aside to do what is in the best interest of youth.
The Prison Fellowship is raising awareness about Second Chance Month. A month dedicated to sharing the importance of supporting those who are reentering the community from the justice system.
Image Credit: Performing Statistics
About Sophia: Sophia is a Bachelor’s of Social Work intern from Virginia Commonwealth University.Read More Blog Posts