Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project

Using direct service and policy advocacy to transform the experiences of children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system, and to ensure fair and thoughtful resentencing and reentry for individuals who were sentenced to life without parole as children (“juvenile lifers”).

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Grant Impact

Founded in 2014 with seed funding from the Echoing Green Foundation, the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) was launched in Philadelphia as a response to the experiences of Pennsylvanian children who were charged as adults, including hundreds who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and their families. With the support from the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, YSRP can continue to support youth who face charges in the adult criminal justice system and the attorneys who represent them.

Summary List of Programs and Services

The Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) is a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization that provides comprehensive support to kids prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system, including individuals who were sentenced to life without parole as children (“juvenile lifers“).

We have four goals:

1.  Aiding lawyers with low-income clients to get their cases transferred from the adult criminal justice system to the juvenile justice system or to get more favorable sentences; and providing mitigation for juvenile lifers as they face resentencing in front of a judge and/or parole board;

2.  Connecting youth, juvenile lifers and their families with existing community resources and programs, so they have access to education, healthcare, stable housing and job placement;

3. Training lawyers, judges and other advocates to increase the level of representation provided to youth facing adult jails and prisons, and juvenile lifers facing resentencing and parole hearings; and

4. Advancing policy reform that is rooted in the experiences of young people, juvenile lifers and their families.

OUR MISSION: The Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) uses direct service and policy advocacy to transform the experiences of children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system, and to ensure fair and thoughtful resentencing and reentry for individuals who were sentenced to life without parole as children (“juvenile lifers”). We partner with court-involved youth and juvenile lifers, their families, and lawyers to develop holistic, humanizing narratives that mitigate the facts of each case; get cases transferred to the juvenile system or resentenced; and make crucial connections to community resources providing education, healthcare, housing, and employment. We also provide trainings on mitigation, and recruit, train and supervise students and other volunteers to assist in this work. Our ultimate goals are to keep children out of adult jails and prisons and to enhance the quality of representation juvenile lifers receive at resentencing, and as they prepare to reenter the community.

Summary List of Priorities for Client Intake

Youth Clients:

  • Charged in adult court as a “Direct File Juvenile” for an offense committed while under the age of 18
  • Represented by private (non-Defender) counsel
  • Attorney reaches out, or we approach attorney

Juvenile Lifers:

  • Sentenced to a mandatory life without parole sentence for an offense committed while under the age of 18
  • Represented by private (non-Defender) counsel
  • Attorney requests a mitigation specialist, or juvenile lifer asks us to be in touch with attorney