Hennepin County juvenile justice system starts initiative aiming to eliminate disparities, increase community involvement

A group of stakeholders from the Hennepin County juvenile justice system on Thursday announced the formation of an initiative to eliminate disparities in the system and increase community involvement.

The Youth Justice Council (YJC) will aim to serve as an advisory committee focused on developing and implementing policies, programs and practices to eliminate disparities in the juvenile justice system while increasing resources for youth and their families to positively impact the community.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Hennepin County juvenile justice system stakeholders and community members. One community representative, who is a non-Hennepin County employee, will chair the council with two juvenile justice system representatives.

"We are all acutely aware of the urgent need to focus on equity in our County, especially for youth involved in the justice system," Judge Mark Kappelhoff, YJC tri-chair and the Assistant Presiding Judge of Hennepin County’s Juvenile Court, said. "The YJC represents a unique opportunity to develop and implement policies that will transform our juvenile justice system and improve outcomes for youth. The Juvenile Court bench is excited about this work and is fully committed to forging strong partnerships with the community and court stakeholders to create an equitable, fair, and effective justice system."

The council’s first meeting will be held virtually Thursday afternoon from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend and provide input.

The council was created after an assessment by the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice. The county system contracted with the group for a system assessment and recommendations to improve the system. The council was then created to forge a partnership with teh community and identify and implement policies for improving the system.