JustChildren, Legal Aid Justice Center is Virginia’s largest children’s law program. They rely on a range of strategies to make sure that Virginia’s most vulnerable young people receive the services and support they need to lead successful lives in their communities. The JustChildren Program seeks local and statewide reforms to improve the systems that children depend on. They change policies to improve public education and the juvenile justice system. Through coalition building, policy advocacy, and litigation, they make lasting improvements for all children in Virginia.
Bill Number: S. 234
Type of Reform
Transfer Reform- Allows youth under 18 to go back to juvenile court if they have not committed a section 5204 felony (serious felony). Allows youth under 16 to return back to juvenile court even if they have been charged with a 5204 felony.
Year: Introduced 2018
Bill Number: 3007 – WIN!
Type of Reform
Transfer Reform - Changes to "once an adult, always an adult" statute.The amended law requires that youth be convicted of the offense in adult court in order to be tried in adult court for all subsequent offenses. If not convicted of the charges for which he or she was transferred, a youth regains juvenile status for potential subsequent charges.
Bill Number: 259 – WIN!
Type of Reform
Detention Reform - Creates a presumption that youth who are being tried as adults are held in juvenile detention centers pretrial. Youth will only be placed in an adult jail if they are found by a judge to be a security or safety threat.
Prevention v. Punishment: Threat Assessment, School Suspensions, and Racial Disparities
This report (2013) presents new evidence that the implementation of Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (VSTAG) in Virginia public schools is associated with marked reductions in both short-term and long-term school suspensions. Furthermore, use of VSTAG is associated with reductions in the racial disparity in long-term suspensions. Schools using VSTAG have substantially lower rates of school suspensions, especially among black males, who tend to have the highest suspension rates.
Educate Every Child: Promoting Positive Solutions to School Discipline in Virginia
This report (2011) highlights that too many students are suspended for minor misbehavior in Virginia, and that school exclusion hurts everyone. High suspension rates are associated with low student achievement, high dropout rates, and increased contact with the juvenile justice system. Failure to maintain a positive school climate for all students can lead to teacher dissatisfaction and turnover. It argues that we can reduce the costs to society of high dropout, crime, and teacher attrition by adopting more effective approaches to managing challenging behavior in schools. Virginia should replace school exclusion with more effective alternatives.
Unlocking the Truth; Real Stories about the Trial and Incarceration of Youth as Adults in VirginiaThis report (2010) aims to compile “real” stories of how the practice of trying and incarcerating youth as adults impacts youth, families, and communities.