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Vera Institute of Justice

Justice + Joy National Collaborative and the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) believe that the incarceration of youth on the girls’ side of the juvenile justice system can be ended by building stronger, safer, and more equitable communities where girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming (LGB/TGNC or “gender-expansive”) youth — particularly youth of color — are no longer criminalized for the violence and discrimination they face and have the supports they need to heal and thrive.


Justice + Joy is co-chairing the national advisory committee for the Initiative to End Girls’ Incarceration, at Vera Institute of Justice.

The Initiative is working to zero out the country’s confinement of girls within 10 years by partnering with jurisdictions to build new reforms and programs that will better support the safety and well-being of girls and gender-expansive youth in their communities, address the root causes of their incarceration, and permanently close the doors to girls’ juvenile detention and placement facilities.


Using the initiative three step 10 year plan is a way to free girls from incarceration and keep them in their communities with support systems. By targeting the 8 states with the highest incarceration rate, more than half the girls in incarceration would be released. At the same time, working with the states that have low incarceration rates provides a framework and inspiration for the higher-incarceration states.

Three of the Initiative’s sites have already achieved days with zero incarcerated young people in girls’ units. New York City achieved 18 days with zero detained girls in a single month. Santa Clara’s facilities are regularly empty, and the county has achieved 15 consecutive days with no incarcerated young people in either detention or placement facilities. Maine achieved 9 months with zero incarcerated young people in long-term placements in the girls’ unit.

Learn more about how we focus on policy and system change, national organizing, and collaborative research and innovative thought.