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Stepping Up: Strengthening Police, Youth & Community Relationships

August 24, 2015

Dear Reader:

stepping upWe are a group of teens who came together to study police-youth relations and early diversion options for 16—24 year-olds in New York City. We all had different reasons for joining the Youth Justice Board, but our goal is the same: to improve diversion programs and restore youth and community trust in police and the criminal justice system.

We come from many places, but we are all passionate about working for justice. We want to help expand diversion programs and improve short- and long-term outcomes for youth who are involved in the criminal justice system.

This issue is important to us because the quality of police-youth interactions affects us, our peers, and our families. Especially in the wake of recent deaths in Ferguson and Staten Island, it is important that youth and police begin working together to make sure that we support each other to succeed.

We met twice a week over many months to research this issue. We visited courts, conducted interviews with policymakers, judges, lawyers, police officers, and social workers, and held focus groups with young people who have experience with arrest and diversion programs. We then developed seven recommendations that we believe can improve the lives of young people, the police, and New York City communities.

As a group of determined teens, we hope that people take our recommendations into consideration and that they will be used in order to reduce youth arrest, improve public trust in police, and make communities safer for us all.

Sincerely,

THE YOUTH JUSTICE BOARD

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