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Youth Justice

Since 1982, CCE’s Youth Justice Committee (formerly called the Children in the Courts Committee) has worked to improve outcomes for D.C. youth involved in the juvenile justice, criminal, public school, and child welfare systems. To this end, the Committee researches and analyzes local youth justice issues, publishes reports documenting its findings, educates the public, and advocates for changes to local youth justice laws, systems, and policies.

In recent years there has been meaningful progress on youth justice issues in the District of Columbia. For example, the number of D.C. youth involved in the juvenile delinquency and child welfare systems has declined. In fact, youth arrests are currently at a 15-year low, with arrest rates for violent crime on a decline since 2010. The number of children in foster care declined from 3,070 children in 2003 to 600 in 2021. Additionally, local courts and government agencies have grown more sophisticated and technologically advanced, creating opportunities to better serve youth involved in the legal system. Even with such significant progress, there are still a number of major challenges for youth in D.C. In 2021, only 68% of D.C. foster youth who were eligible to graduate from high school or obtain a GED did so. In 2021, some foster youth experienced as many as five or more different placements in one year, remaining a particularly vulnerable population. As of 2018, nine out of 10 children living in poverty in D.C. are Black, and white families earn salaries four-times that of Black families. D.C. school-aged children continue to struggle with literacy, as Black and Latinx students are only reaching 24% and 29% levels in language arts proficiency, respectively. The justice landscape remains dire for far too many young people in our community.


The Committee is co-chaired by Paul Lee, Steptoe & Johnson, and Victor Long, Regan Zambri Long. The staff liaison is Jennifer Ubiera.


Some of the Committee’s ongoing projects in 2024 focus on:

  • The Needs of Crossover Youth
  • Post-Commitment Representation for Detained Youth
  • Updating CCE’s Guide to Juvenile Justice System
  • Hosting Empowered Youth Spaces

Recent publications:


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