Project Citizen

Involving Youth In System Reform

During FLY’s history, FLY staff have consistently been invited to participate and take leadership roles in county committees working on juvenile justice reform. We believe that the youth are critically important in this process. So to ensure their voices and insights are a part of the discussion, FLY has designed workshops and a course in political action in which probation youth research, analyze, and propose adaptations to juvenile justice policies and procedures.


As a result of this program, incarcerated youth have made oral/written presentations and written recommendations to:

• Santa Clara County’s Probation Department which resulted in significant reform in their local juvenile facilities;
• the Office of the Public Defender, which resulted in a comprehensive evaluation of Juvenile Delinquency Attorneys and new training protocols;
• and the Santa Clara County’s Juvenile Detention Reform Committee, which provide insightful suggestions for work on truancy.

Here’s what people are saying:

As one probation officer described:

FLY helps the juvenile system do better. When our Department really started looking at how we could improve, and we thought, like any good business, we should go to the clients and ask what they need. We weren’t doing that, and we didn’t know how to do that very well. The only game in town, the only organization we thought COULD do that well was FLY.” -Retired Probation Manager, John Dahl

The experience is also incredibly powerful for the youth as they have shared:

I learned that I could do things that I never thought I had in me. I can help others.” And, “What I really liked about this Program is that we got to express our feelings to other people and do something good for the community.” – FLY Youth

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