California Governor Signs Youth Justice Bills That Promote Equity

  On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that represent a major step forward for equity, justice reform, and smart public policy in California. The W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI), a co-sponsor of the bills, commends the Governor for his leadership in considering the data, research, and racial/ethnic and geographic disparities that were ...

Burns Institute’s James Bell Explores Norwegian Model of Maximum Security, Proportionality

Earlier this month, James Bell, Founder and President of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI), stepped into a large facility about an hour outside of Oslo, Norway. He encountered cheery orange couches in front of flat-screen televisions, flower murals on the wall, and tidy classrooms, plus numerous trade-specific training areas — a woodshop, an auto ...

Futures Denied: Why California Should Not Prosecute 14- and 15-year-olds as Adults

After decades of handling youth 15 and younger in its rehabilitation-focused juvenile justice system, in 1995 California discarded its longstanding approach and adopted a new law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to be tried in adult criminal court. In present day California, a young teenager in criminal court is treated in every way just like an ...

Unlocking Opportunity: New Burns Institute Report Highlights Disparities in California’s Youth Justice System

Every night in California, nearly 4,000 youth lay their heads to sleep out of their homes, out of their community and away from their families as the result of a court ordered placement. Youth of color comprise the vast majority of these youth (88 percent). In fact, at every decision-making point in the youth justice ...

The W. Haywood Burns Institute Annual Report

It is with deep gratitude that we close out the year here at the Burns Institute. 2017 has been a year of many exciting changes and new opportunities. Our Annual Report highlights some of the work we have done this year and gives a glimpse of what lies ahead. Click here to look at what 2017 ...

New Report: Addressing Racial, Ethnic, and Geographic Disparities after the Repeal of Direct File

Proposition 57 abolished the practice of “direct file,” wherein prosecutors could file charges against youth as young 14 years old in adult court. Significant racial and ethnic disparities in adult court prosecution are a reminder of the need to remain vigilant to prevent these disparities from being reproduced under the state’s new process for transferring youth to adult criminal court.

Report Update: Direct File Rates Arbitrarily Rising for Youth of Color

A new report shows that rates of direct file increased in 2015 despite falling rates of arrest for serious felony offenses, with a continued disproportionate impact on youth of color.

Direct File Rates Arbitrarily Rising for Youth of Color

Prosecutors are directly filing charges against youth in adult court at greater rates, while juvenile crime has gone down, most heavily impacting youth of color.

New BI Report Highlights Troubling Trends in Youth of Color Incarceration

While the overall rate of incarceration of all youth has decreased by 55% since 1997, the rate of incarceration of youth of color continues to rise, marking an alarming pattern.

Decriminalizing Childhood for Youth of Color: A Policy Framework

The Burns Institute recently collaborated with the Urban America Forward: Civil Rights Roundtable Series to produce a thought piece on a new, transformative youth justice policy framework that would challenge the structural racial injustices that contribute to and perpetuate disparities in youth justice.