William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations Award Rapid Response Research Grants to Combat Youth Inequality Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic

By William T. Grant Foundation & Spencer Foundation | June 1, 2020

Former Stoneleigh Fellow Naomi Goldstein received a Rapid Response Research Grant from the William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations to provide support in judges’ efforts to release youth from justice facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The William T. Grant Foundation and the Spencer Foundation today announced two new Rapid Response Research grants, which will support collaborations between researchers and policymakers, with the central goal of reducing inequality in youth outcomes in the United States.

With resource shortfalls and shifting priorities expected to compound existing inequalities in a range of policy areas, the Foundations have committed up to $900,000 in grants to leverage research for smart public policy that can positively impact the lives of young people. The first of the two grants awarded today will support the Boston Mayor’s office to work with Professor Alicia Modestino to use evidence to design their summer youth employment programs. The second grant will bring together a team of researchers in Drexel University’ Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to inform alternatives to confinement for young people caught in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The Foundation will award additional grants on a rolling basis in the coming months.[…]

Naomi Goldstein, Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab at Drexel University, and Melissa Sickmund, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges: Judicial Confinement and Release Decisions: Protecting Youth and Communities During the Pandemic and Beyond

Correctional facilities have emerged as hotspots for the spread of COVID-19, and confined youth face an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Given the overrepresentation of youth of color in correctional facilities, the disproportionate infection and mortality rate of COVID-19 among communities of color is compounded for these youth. While many jurisdictions have already released youth with low-level charges from these facilities, judges struggle with decisions about the release of youth charged with higher-level offenses or violent crimes. To respond to this challenge, Goldstein and her team will review research on the consequences of justice system decisions at the initial detention, disposition/sentencing, and transfer to criminal court stages on youth outcomes; the impact of these decisions on racial and ethnic inequality; and the resources needed to facilitate release from confinement, safely return youth to the community, and prevent both COVID-19 infections and subsequent violent offenses. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges will use this synthesis to help judges and other decision makers understand when and under what conditions they can safely prevent youth from being confined or release already-confined youth. The partners will engage in the development of training materials and resources to provide guidance for justice system decision making and implement an advocacy plan involving messaging and technical assistance for organizations and individuals working in juvenile justice.

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