Justice for Kids

Keeping Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System

323 pages

1 figure

December, 2012

ISBN: 9781479832958



Also available in



Part of the Families, Law, and Society series


Nancy Dowd is Professor and David Levin Chair in Family Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.  She is the editor of the Families, Law and Society series at NYU Press, and author or editor of numerous books, including A New Juvenile Justice System (NYU 2015).

All books by Nancy E. Dowd

Children and youth become involved with the juvenile justice system at a significant rate. While some children move just as quickly out of the system and go on to live productive lives as adults, other children become enmeshed in the system, developing deeper problems and or transferring into the adult criminal justice system. Justice for Kids is a volume of work by leading academics and activists that focuses on ways to intervene at the earliest possible point to rehabilitate and redirect—to keep kids out of the system—rather than to punish and drive kids deeper.

Justice for Kids presents a compelling argument for rethinking and restructuring the juvenile justice system as we know it. This unique collection explores the system’s fault lines with respect to all children, and focuses in particular on issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation that skew the system. Most importantly, it provides specific program initiatives that offer alternatives to our thinking about prevention and deterrence, with an ultimate focus on keeping kids out of the system altogether. 


  • "Justice for Kids presents comprehensive research and evidence-based practices anchored in sound, creative and critical analysis necessary to transform both our youth-serving institutions and our moral intuitions and commitments to all of our children.”

    —Mark Fondacaro, co-author of Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice

  • "This remarkable and sobering collection of scholarly works shines much-needed light on our nation’s unjust treatment of youth and how the injustice flows most heavily along the lines of race, poverty and disability. Educators, policymakers, and advocates all should find this book as motivating as it is disturbing: for every reason it gives to despair about the current system, it also reveals a pathway toward a far less populated system of juvenile justice, one that actually helps children rather than harms them."

    —Daniel Losen, co-author of The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform

  • "An important book at an important time."

    —P.S. Kelly, CHOICE

  • "Judges and attorneys as well as law enforcement agencies and juvenile advocates will find this book useful as they work toward the goal of fair treatment and justice for juveniles, both guilty and innocent."

    Library Journal