Addressing the Intersections of Juvenile Justice Involvement and Youth Homelessness: Principles for Change


A young person’s involvement with the justice system can increase their likelihood of later experiencing homelessness for many reasons, including the fact that educational disruptions and juvenile delinquency records can make it harder to obtain employment. Youth experiencing homelessness may also be swept into the juvenile justice system through laws that prohibit simply being in public spaces, such as juvenile curfews, or anti-sitting or sleeping ordinances. Both juvenile justice involvement and youth homelessness have long - term negative consequences. The Principles in Part I of this document provide a roadmap for communities to help young people avoid experiencing juvenile justice system involvement and/or youth homelessness.
This includes doing the following:
Principle 1: Ensure that the laws and policies in your jurisdiction do not lead youth experiencing homelessness to be cited, arrested, or charged for survival acts or “quality of life” offenses.
Principle 2: Ensure that young people are diverted from juvenile justice system involvement whenever possible, and that any diversion programs or services are appropriately tailored to meet the needs of youth experiencing homelessness.
Principle 3: When juvenile justice system involvement cannot be avoided, ensure that comprehensive transition planning begins immediately after — and continues throughout — a youth’s confinement or probation supervision.
Principle 4: Ensure your community has both long - and short - term safe housing options available for youth who are, or have been, involved with the juvenile justice system.
Principle 5: Ensure your community provides youth and their families with related services and supports that can help them obtain and keep safe and stable housing.
Principle 6: Ensure that youth, and their families, are not kicked out of their homes or denied housing because the youth have been arrested or adjudicated for a delinquency offense.
Principle 7: Ensure youth help lead and shape the identification and implementation of policy and practice solutions to address the connections between juvenile justice and youth homelessness.
Principle 8: Ensure efforts prioritize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, gender non - conforming (GNC) youth, youth of color, and other over - represented populations to address and reduce the disproportionalities that exist in the populations of youth experiencing homelessness and/or involved with the juvenile justice system.
Principle 9: Ensure that law enforcement, courts, schools, and service providers employ gender - responsive and age - and culturally - appropriate trauma - informed responses when working with youth.
Principle 10: Undertake and fund research to help better understand the issue of youth homelessness and identify solutions.