New Campaign Launches to Transform Virginia’s Approach to Juvenile Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 1, 2015

Alec Saslow,, 720-319-4948
Madison Donzis,, 210-488-6220

New Campaign Launches to Transform Virginia’s Approach to Juvenile Justice

 RISE for Youth’ Focuses on Closing Youth Prisons; Investing in Safer Communities

View Website:

RICHMOND, VA – A broad statewide coalition announced a new campaign to transform Virginia’s approach to Juvenile Justice today. The new campaign, called RISE for Youth, will focus on reforms that will increase community investment in youth rather than primarily rely on incarceration in large prisons.

The campaign launch comes on the heels of findings earlier this year that Virginia tops all states in the nation in referring students from school to law enforcement. Additional research has shown that youth prisons contribute to high rates of reoffending, wasteful taxpayer spending and disproportionate impacts on youth of color.

The RISE for Youth campaign unites policy experts and activists from both conservative and progressive backgrounds to re-invest in proven, community-based alternatives, and transition from Virginia’s juvenile prison system for youth incarceration to small, secured facilities for high risk youth.

The goals of the campaign include:

  • Ending the school to prison pipeline in Virginia by reducing the number of students referred to the juvenile justice system for minor misbehaviors.
  • Supporting youth in their homes and communities by giving local governments funding to provide services to the youth in those settings rather than spending far greater sums of taxpayer dollars on state-run prisons that remove children from their homes and families.
  • Building a true continuum of evidence-informed placements for youth who cannot safely remain in their homesby creating secured facilities that are regionally based, focused on positive youth development and no larger than 24 beds.

“The formation of this coalition should make it clear to Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice that support for juvenile justice reform across the state is as broad as it is passionate,” said Kate Duvall, Attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center and RISE for Youth Coalition partner. “We will work tirelessly until our juvenile justice system gives all Virginia youth a true chance to succeed.”

Earlier this month, Justice Fellowship, Right on Crime, and the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy released new research analyzing data from Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice and recommending the state limit its historic reliance on incarceration in remotely located, large facilities and instead establish “a workable infrastructure of community-based options that respect the victim, reform the youth and protect the family unit.”

“Virginia’s juvenile justice system relies too much on large youth prisons far from family that ultimately fail both to recognize human value and to provide safe communities, all while placing an enormous burden on taxpayers,” said Craig DeRoche, executive director of Justice Fellowship, a RISE for Youth coalition partner. “It’s time for real and restorative reforms that will improve community safety, protect taxpayers and give all youth in Virginia a chance to succeed.”

“Reforming our juvenile justice system is not only humane and responsible, it’s also what’s best for Virginia’s economy,” added Michael Cassidy, President and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute, a RISE for Youth coalition partner. “We need to move towards investing in proven programs that reduce re-offending rather than spending high sums of taxpayer money on youth incarceration.”

RISE for Youth coalition partners include a diverse and bipartisan array of organizations from across the state. For a complete list, visit

# # #

RISE for Youth is a bipartisan campaign in support of community alternatives to youth incarceration. For more information, visit


Back To Top