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The Conservative Case for Juvenile Justice Reform in Indiana: Why Treating Kids as Kids is Better for Children, Families and Public Safety

Both academic research and our personal experiences—being children and having children—clearly shows us that kids and teens are developmentally different from adults. Lacking fully developed brains, youth are susceptible to peer pressure, prone to take risks and less likely to anticipate the long-term effects of their decisions. Fortunately, they are also more adaptable.

For these reasons, policymakers created a legal system just for kids—a system which prioritizes rehabilitation over retribution and seeks to guide young people along the pathway toward maturity and desistance by providing appropriate, individualized services. With the knowledge that children and teens are still developing, and the awareness of the collateral consequences of incarceration, many policymakers decided to limit when and where young people can be detained.

Unfortunately, some states still need help with their juvenile justice systems. Specifically, Indiana has not consistently recognized the reality that kids are not adults, and thus need to be held accountable differently in order to best promote their short-term health, long-term success and public safety.

Join R Street’s Emily Mooney, Resident Criminal Justice Policy Fellow, and fellow panelists Noah Bein, Principal Associate, Public Safety Performance Project, Pew Charitable Trusts, Judge Marilyn Moores, Marion County Superior Court Juvenile Division, Joshua Rovner, Senior Advocacy Associate, Sentencing Project, and Joel Wieneke, Senior Staff Attorney, Indiana Public Defender Council. For a discussion on how conservatives in Indiana can improve juvenile justice policy and outcomes for kids, families and public safety by reconsidering issues such as automatically charging young people as adults, not having a minimum age of detention and holding young people in adult facilities.

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