Booking Officer John Doleman on the Burns Institute

The United States locks up more kids than any other nation in the world. And most of them are youth of color. Youth of color are 69 percent of the youth prison population, despite only being 41 percent of the entire U.S. population; a sad fact that cannot be explained by differential rates of delinquency. So while youth of color are doing the time– contrary to popular myth– they are not always doing the crime.

There are 3100 counties in the United States, of which only a very small percentage make efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their youth justice system.

This is unfortunate because studies show experience in the juvenile justice system is:

– harmful to youth
– can actually prolong delinquency
– increase a child’s likelihood of reoffending
– ineffective and results in wasteful spending.

Few people in this country actually believe the justice system is fair or just, especially for youth of color.

Booking Officer John Doleman from Ventura County

We at the Burns Institute(BI) are working to change this. We focus on racial and ethnic disparities because we know that adolescents entering correctional facilities are at higher risk than unincarcerated youth for: STD’s, drug abuse, issues regarding pregnancy and parenting, HIV infection, mental health disorders, diminished educational opportunities, employment opportunities, and overall life outcomes.

Ending this country’s addiction to incarceration is not easy, but it is our mission. And slowly but surely we are winning. In Ventura and 32 other sites. After determining that bench warrants for failing to appear in court were a target population, we introduced Ventura to strategies that have produced results in other BI sites. Ventura Probation is designing a call notification program to remind youth of their upcoming and missed court dates. The collaborative is also deliberating on how to expand the use of bench warrant holds. Ventura believes these strategies will reduce the number of children unnecessarily detained for failing to appear in court.

But it’s important to note we can’t do this work without you. Your support, gifts and encouragement give us the energy and financial backing necessary to get our ideas out there.

And your donations directly fund this work.

In these tough economic times we are all feeling the pinch financially and there are so many deserving organizations that need support.
However, we sincerely hope that you consider us a valuable resource for children, youth and families in communities of color. No one should be incarcerated because of the color of their skin, where they live or their economic status.

We are in a position to change the lives of many children in the country as we work in over 30 jurisdictions but we need your support. We need to raise $20,000 dollars this year so we can continue to host events like Community Justice Network for Youth’s Training for Trainers; where we arm participants with the knowledge necessary to hold their local system accountable. We hope to soon make these trainings available online, but we can’t do it without your support. We want to continue to empower communities and inform system stakeholders of how their work can create a fair justice system that truly is just for all. Will you help us reach our goals?

Please donate today.