We advocate for a justice system that treats kids as kids.
Lone Star Justice Alliance (LSJA) is a nonprofit legal organization that improves the lives of youth and emerging adults in the justice system.
We envision a justice system that uses developmentally-appropriate responses to behavior and treats youth and emerging adults with equity and dignity to promote resilience, conserve costs, and increase public safety.
Recent research in adolescent development, brain science, and social science has provided evidence for treating youth and emerging adults uniquely within the criminal and juvenile legal system. By using evidence-based responses to behavior, we will better serve youth and emerging adults than the failing, punitive criminal and juvenile legal systems, especially when coupled with due process, fairness, and equity.
Transforming Lives | Transforming Justice
In Texas and across the United States, youth and emerging adults ages 17 to 24, especially those of color, are at a disproportionately high risk of becoming involved in the criminal legal system. The system routinely fails these young people by sentencing them to years – or even life – in prison for behavioral infractions they commit.
They often end up in places meant for adults – places that retraumatize them, fail to address their underlying needs, and contribute to recidivism. This deprives them of access to habilitation, to live full lives, and to be productive members of society. Without these opportunities, the likelihood that they will re-offend is high. This is not justice, in the true sense of the word. The human, social, and financial costs of this failed system are devastating.
To deliver real justice, promote recovery rather than recidivism, and end intergenerational imprisonment, we must change the system so that it is responsive to the unique needs of youth and emerging adults. Lone Star Justice Alliance exists to facilitate this change.
Texas spends $5 billion each year on a system that fails 75% of the time
young adults (17 to 24) are arrested in Texas each year
of young adults in Texas who enter the prison system reoffend within 3 years
Black and Latino residents represent 30% of the U.S. population but 56% of those incarcerated
Through our ReImagine Justice Institute, we cultivate connections with and equip community-based organizations, defense counsel, directly-impacted individuals, and stakeholders, to shift narratives and drive change at the local level.
Through our Youth Sentencing and Survivors’ Projects, we lead and support strategic litigation to challenge specific system failures. Then, we use the lessons learned from our research, innovations, and legal strategies to amend Texas’ penal and family codes – policies and practices that drive true criminal legal system changes with outcomes that transform lives.
Through our Transformative Justice work, we facilitate change by developing innovative programs that focus on creating community-based alternatives to the failing criminal legal system. These innovative programs are designed to address unmet needs, increase social determinants of health, and improve public safety.
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