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Nothing About Us Without Us! The Failure of the Modern Juvenile Justice System and a Call for Community-Based Justice

The need for a renewed effort in bringing the practice of juvenile justice back under the influence of the community is explained. Topics discussed include: history coming full circle-arrest, court, incarceration, the strong rationale for abandoning the status quo juvenile justice system, a systemic lack of cultural competence, and community-based justice that works; and Community-based Alternatives To Detention (ATDs) and Alternatives To Incarceration (ATIs)-restorative justice, and justice reinvestment. “’Nothing About Us Without Us!’ is an old adage of community organizing efforts, which provides a rallying cry for communities directly affected by an issue. Essentially, this adage asserts that lasting change can only occur when solutions to social problems are born from equal partnership and leadership from oppressed groups and impacted persons. Overwhelming evidence shows that the current juvenile justice system will not lead to safety, justice, cost-effectiveness, or positive life outcomes for anyone except possibly those corporations and officials who directly profit from it. Community-based approaches were utilized in the early years and can now be re-invigorated. They are more effective, socially responsible, affordable, culturally competent, and uphold human rights laws and norms” (p. 36).