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RJ: Letter Writing Campaign

C.A.C.I.Q.U.E.'s Letter Writing program continues its mission of dismantling systems of oppression. Community letters to youth in juvenile detention and residential centers shows youth that there is a community who is in support of them.

Why We Write?
- To mend community bonds
- Provide connection
- To spread some positivity and love

Who We’re Writing To:
- Youth under the age of 18.
52 total youth in this center. 5 femme-identified and 47 masc-identified young people.
- Majority are young people of color.
- RITS is Rhode Island’s only state-run juvie and probably has a lot of youth from Providence, RI’s biggest city, nearby to the center.

What do we know about youth involved in the juvenile justice system?

While an estimated 2.7 million youth under the age of 18 were arrested in the United States during a single year in 1997, that number decreased by 74 percent in 2019. Though overall rates have been steadily declining over the past years, approximately 423,077 delinquency cases are adjudicated and disposed in juvenile courts annually. Fifty-two percent (220,000) of those disposed cases were adjudicated delinquent in 2018. Youth are referred to the juvenile justice system for different types of offenses.

Gender, Race, and Ethnicity

Considerable variability by gender and deep disparities by race and ethnicity exist in both pre-adjudication detention and post-adjudication residential placement.

Since 2006, the proportion of females remained relatively constant for arrests, delinquency cases, petitioned status cases, and youth in placement. From 2009 through 2015, the relative decline in arrests for boys and girls was the same (down 49%). Data continue to suggest that girls are less likely to be petitioned, adjudicated, detained and/or committed in out-of-home placement than boys for most categories of delinquent offenses. Girls in 2014 were more likely to receive diversion programming or probation than boys, who were more likely than their female counterparts to be formally petitioned and adjudicated through the court or be put in residential placement.

Race and Ethnicity
Youth of color are overrepresented within—and treated differently by—the juvenile justice system compared to their White peers. Brown and Black youth are more likely to be detained and committed than non-Hispanic White youth. For every 100,000 non-Hispanic Black juveniles living in the U.S., 315 were in a residential placement facility on October 23, 2019; for Hispanic youth the rate was 92, and for non-Hispanic Whites it was 72. In response to significant racial and ethnic disparities present at all stages in the juvenile justice process, many states have begun implementing reforms to make the system more equitable.

Repeated Involvement
Recidivism: as measured by various levels of reinvolvement with the justice system (e.g., rearrest, probation violations, reincarceration), is fairly high for youth under the age of 21. However, according to a follow-up study on previously incarcerated youth, most youth who committed serious offenses reduced their offending over time regardless of interventions, and (92%) experienced decreased or limited illegal activity during the first three years following their encounter with the juvenile justice system.

We write to let these youth know there is a community and a people who are rooting for them and are looking forward to their coming back into the community and there are community supports.

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