Based on the laws in the places they live and the adults who happen to be involved in their cases, kids in the juvenile justice system have dramatically different outcomes, setting their lives on a number of different trajectories.
A child's arrest is the first official step into the juvenile justice system, but law enforcement practices push kids out of other systems that are meant to be trusted: child welfare and school.
What happens after juveniles are arrested and how are their destinations decided? The journey is complicated, with different laws, judges and protocols adding up to more than 50 different systems, and endless possibilities for routes to facilities.
Kids across the country deal with unequal treatment because of their identity: their race, ethnicity, disability or gender identity. Barriers, challenges and injustices in the juvenile justice system give them wildly different experiences than their peers.
An estimated 48,000 kids are locked up across America on a given day and two-thirds of them are in highly-secure, prisonlike facilities. Life in these places often falls short of standards.
While many detention centers have seen improvements in the last 20 years, life inside facilities may be worse for some kids than what we see on the surface. New21 examined sexual assault, employee misconduct and use of solitary confinement.
When children are locked up, there are far-reaching effects beyond time served for their families and in their own lives. The impact lingers long after a child's release.