National Center for Youth Law


Empowering Communities to Effect Local Reform

For many years, NCYL has partnered with grassroots community organizations to advocate for local juvenile justice systems to recognize the potential of young people. These experiences have informed our state-level juvenile justice policy efforts. NCYL provides resources and trainings to assist these organizations in their local advocacy efforts. In addition to providing direct technical assistance, NCYL facilitates peer-to-peer learning exchanges between and among the various community-based organizations to increase the knowledge base, share lessons learned, and develop a statewide strategy for local and state level reforms.

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NCYL provides resources, trainings, and ongoing technical assistance to community based organizations (CBOs) on the the following topics:

  • Overviews of the juvenile justice system: which stakeholders and agencies make which decisions and the different leverage points for achieving change.
  • Explaining the laws governing the juvenile justice system in a way that’s understandable to non-lawyers.
  • How to use specific individual juvenile justice cases to accelerate system change.
  • Facilitating landscape analysis – which organizations are doing what in their county – such that the CBO understands where it can be most effective and with whom they should partner.
  • Assisting CBOs seeking to implement participatory defense practices whereby families and community members work with public defenders on mitigation and defense strategies for youth charged by the juvenile justice system.
  • Helping CBOs work with prosecutors, public defenders, probation officials, and judges to ensure decision-makers better understand the importance of treating youth in a developmentally appropriate manner and how best to implement the Prop 57.
  • Building the capacity of CBOs to work with, support, and incorporate the voices of juvenile justice involved youth.
  • Building the capacity of individual juvenile justice involved youth to assume leadership roles in a CBO  and to tell their story to the mainstream media.
  • Building the capacity of CBOs to use mainstream media as one tool for system change

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