Treating Kids as Kids: Juvenile Justice Reform Makes Progress When a young person commits a misdemeanor, many people assume that a trip to jail will deter that behavior. As a society, we tend to believe that kids — and for some reason, black kids in particular — need harsh discipline. However, studies have shown that the opposite is true. “When you put kids in handcuffs and put them in jail, you’re increasing the likelihood they will have future run-ins with the juvenile system.” — Ryan Hill Development Director, Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights “Young people tend to have worse life outcomes if they’re in- volved in the juvenile system,”says Charmel Gaulden, Baptist Community Ministries Vice President, Public Safety Grants. “They tend to be less healthy, less educated and have less economic opportunity.” Above, L to R: Harpreet Samra, Social Worker; Michael Grey, Attorney;ArielTest,SupervisingAttorney;AaronClark-Rizzio, Executive Director; Hannah Van De Car, Attorney Fellow To help transform Louisiana’s juvenile justice system, BCM has long supported organizations like Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR), a nonprofit law office that defends young people in juvenile court. The group not only represents youth directly, but having joined forces with Juvenile Justice Project Louisiana in 2015, it also advocates for state and local policies that reduce the number of kids in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Progress is PAYing Off Since BCM awarded LCCR with a $170,000 three-year transom grant, LCCR has been instrumental in bringing about the new Policing Alternatives forYouth (PAY) ordinance. PAY mandates that if a juvenile is stopped for any of 11 nonviolent misde- meanors, and if that person has not been stopped within the past year, he or she must be released with a warning.“PAY has the potential to reduce juvenile arrests by up to 30%, or 300 children,”says Ryan Hill, Development Director of LCCR. Nonviolent misdemeanors include theft, criminal trespass and first-time possession of marijuana. “We need to treat kids as kids in designing responses to their behavior,”explains Aaron Clark-Rizzio, Executive Director of LCCR. Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights Transom Grant in Public Safety 8