Youth Justice

Youth Justice2019-11-29T14:21:49-05:00

Dismantle Ohio’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline®

CDF-Ohio works to build awareness of and end the root causes of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis and youth incarceration.

We champion effective youth violence prevention and intervention programs that help young people at every point of their involvement in the system — ranging from prevention efforts to divert youths from entering the system by creating alternatives to imprisonment, to supporting youths’ transition back into the community after a period of confinement.

The juvenile justice system resides near the end of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline crisis, where the intersection of poverty and race puts a Black boy born in 2001 at a one in three lifetime risk of going to prison, and a Latino boy a one in six lifetime risk of the same fate. Nonetheless, the juvenile justice system provides a critical opportunity to intervene and help get children on a more positive track toward college, productive work, and successful adulthood.

Examine Ohio Schools’ Data to Improve Practices and Programs

CDF-Ohio has been a leader in the State of Ohio in calling for changes to policies and practices in our schools and other institutions that push children in to the juvenile justice system.

CDF-Ohio believes that children must stay in school and must receive the support, services, and resources they need in school to achieve, both academically and socially.

End Harsh School Discipline

Our issue brief on the impact of school discipline policies on the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® in November 2012 showed, for the first time in Ohio, how the overuse of out-of-school suspension and expulsion is directly linked to children entering our juvenile justice system as a direct result of their treatment in our state’s schools. As a result, Ohio educators and policymakers are now starting to take notice and demand an end to the school to prison pipeline. CDF-Ohio continues to work tirelessly to ensure that Ohio children stay in school, and are treated with dignity and fairness in school, so that theirs will be paths to success, not prison.

Ensure that School Resource Officers Serve a Positive Role in Schools

National research shows that children in schools that are served by School Resource Officers (SROs, or police officers in schools) are more likely to be arrested in school for engaging in minor misbehavior. CDF-Ohio issued a strong call in our 2013 issue brief for Ohio schools to examine the practices of their SROs and to adopt guidelines that ensure that SROs serve a positive role in their school communities. As a result of this work, CDF-Ohio has been invited by the Ohio School Resource Officers Association to present at its annual trainings for SROs in 2014 and 2015.

Ohio Juvenile Justice Alliance

The Ohio Juvenile Justice Alliance (OJJA) is a statewide coalition dedicated to enhancing Ohio’s future by improving the structure, function, and outcomes of Ohio’s juvenile justice system in order to give all of Ohio’s children the opportunity to reach their full potential. CDF-Ohio serves on the steering committee of OJJA and helps to shape its activities.

Ohio Juvenile Justice Alliance Fact Sheet Series

In 2015, OJJA released a series of fact sheets that provide a comprehensive, holistic overview of the current state of Ohio’s juvenile justice system as well as recommendations for where we need to go next to continue to reform the system and better serve Ohio youth.

OJJA Members


American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio

Easter Seals of Ohio

Human Services Chamber of Franklin County

Juvenile Justice Coalition

Lighthouse Youth Services

National Alliance on Mental Illness – Ohio

Office of the Ohio Public Defender

Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association

Ohio Justice and Policy Center

Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio

Voices for Ohio’s Children

The AMOS Project

Children’s Law Center, Inc.

Family and Youth Law Center, Capital University Law School

Justice for Children Project, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

League of Women Voters of Ohio

Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy Coalition

National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter

Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies

The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers

Racial Justice Now!


Gabriella Celeste, Director, Child Policy, Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University

Dana Hubbard, Associate Professor, Sociology, Cleveland State University

Karen Miner-Romanoff, Dean, College of Health and Public Administration, Franklin University

Sharon Weitzenhof, President, Juvenile Justice Coalition

Peggy Hanna, Clark County Peace Alliance

Christopher Mallett, Professor, Social Work, Cleveland State University

Mary Thomas, Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, The Ohio State University

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Ashon McKenziePolicy Director

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