Just Children, 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: SB 52 / HB 35
Type of Reform
Detention Reform - Removed language that allowed youth not to be held sight and sound separated when transferred to an adult jail or prison. Provided that facilities that hold youth must be approved by the State Board of Corrections for the detention of juveniles.
Bill Number: SB 259
Type of Reform
Detention Reform - Created 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.
Bill Number: SB 3007
Type of Reform
Transfer Reform – Made changes to "once an adult, always an adult" statute. The amended law required that youth be convicted of the offense in adult court in order to be automatically 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.
Prevention v. Punishment: Threat Assessment, School Suspensions, and Racial Disparities (2013)
This report presents new evidence that the implementation of the 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 (2011)
This report 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 Virginia (2010)
This report aims to illustrate how the practice of trying and incarcerating youth as adults impacts youth, families, and communities.