Juvenile Justice

Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota works to build awareness of and end the root causes of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis — the funneling of tens of thousands of youth, predominantly minorities, down life paths that lead to marginalized lives, imprisonment and premature death. We support 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 to supporting youths’ transition back into the community after a period of confinement.

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 at 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.

Out-of-School Learning Time and Enrichment

Out-of-school learning and enrichment programs improve academic performance, keep children safe, reduce juvenile delinquency, and help working parents.

The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program seeks to build strong, literate and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today. The comprehensive, culturally-relevant summer and after-school program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, generates more positive attitudes toward learning and connects their families with needed resources in the community. In the summer of 2015 there were 12 CDF Freedom Schools sites in Minnesota, including one operated in a juvenile justice system setting. Thirteen other CDF Freedom Schools sites operate out of juvenile justice facilities in California, Maryland, Ohio and Texas. Juvenile corrections staff noted the benefits of the program for youths, who were able to express themselves and feel successful in the CDF Freedom Schools environment. CDF Freedom Schools programs in juvenile justice settings give students access to quality enrichment programs and a chance for positive rehabilitation. Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota supports out-of-school learning and enrichment programs for all children, including youth in juvenile justice facilities.

Learn more about the CDF Freedom Schools program in Minnesota.

Restore Voting Rights

Voting – playing a role in helping to shape the world around us – increases an individual’s sense of community.

It’s a positive behavior with powerful effects and it can be passed from parent to child. Children whose parents vote are more likely to vote themselves as adults. Voting allows former offenders the opportunity to set a positive example for their children, and, civic participation like voting may help former offenders re-enter society and reduce recidivism. However, 47,000 Minnesotans who have served their time and are now living and working in the community are denied the right to vote because of a past felony conviction. In 2015, a bill to restore voting rights to these former offenders was introduced and received strong bipartisan support. The bill passed the state Senate but failed to receive a hearing in the state House.

Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota believes former offenders should be allowed to vote and is a proud member of the Restore the Vote coalition