Continued reliance on institutional placements puts our nation’s children—especially Black children—at risk of lasting harm to their health, development, and well-being. Congress must prioritize effective community-led, family-focused, youth-centered programs to ensure young people have the resources and supports they need to thrive within their families and communities.
Criminal convictions create life-long barriers to employment, housing, and education that directly impact the conditions for children and families. Clean Slate is a crucial step toward racial and economic justice, addressing some of the deep racial disparities that are evident at every stage of the criminal legal system, and providing pathways to more full participation in our neighborhoods and communities, which is essential to the well-being of children, youth, and families.
Too often, Black children are treated as adults and their normal adolescent behaviors treated as delinquent. The criminal justice system furthers this adultification by disregarding children’s age and pushing them—especially Black children and other children of color—into a punitive system that was not designed with their needs in mind. Children deserve trauma-informed and age-appropriate responses to their needs.