Starting in September of 2016 Voices for Racial Justice (VRJ) began an eight-month qualitative research project. Our goals were to gather the experiences of youth, family, and community members of color who are most impacted by the juvenile justice system to generate community informed recommendations related to decreasing detention rates, disparities, disproportionality, as well as to build connectedness amongst youth and their families to advocate for systems change.
Our approach to research was strongly influenced by the necessity to first center the trust and well-being of youth and family members who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system. All participants received introductions of who we are as an organization, our intentions, as well as why the real stories of youth and their families are important to us. Overall, we wanted to allow youth the space to be themselves. We believe the narratives, voices, and leadership of youth and families are central to any real change.
VRJ is committed to research that is community-driven to best inform and challenge systems to advance racial equity. Given our principles of authentic community engagement, we utilize Research Justice, a research framework that identifies and centers the stakes, interests, and leadership of communities most impacted by inequity in designing process-oriented research that is accessible and nurtures community transformation. We worked as a team of five core researchers, including our lead facilitator who was directly impacted by the juvenile justice system as a youth. Our research team was made up of diverse researchers from the communities our research was based in. All our researchers have strong roots in the community, they are artists, educators, writers, and grassroots community builders.
Read the report below or click the arrow to download.