[Interview] Ruben Austria on How to Reform the Juvenile Justice System

Here is our latest episode of the Q2 Podcast. This is someone I’ve been wanting to interview for a long time. In some ways, this is one of the most important episodes we will ever do.

Why is that? Quite literally, the personal potential of future generations of our black and brown people in the inner city are being wiped out. Many believe that the war on drugs and the criminal justice system is not just failing our communities, but making them even worse. We know the impact this has on families. This impact continues in the juvenile justice system. If we had the reform that we needed here, much of our social change efforts in other spaces would not be as strained. This is the reason why this episode is so important.

My job as founder of PanVisio focuses on what is working in our communities of color and highlight them in our social justice podcast. If you are sick and tired of mainstream media simply regurgitating what the problems are (which we’ve known for decades!) then you are in the right place. If you are tired of all the opinions about what needs to happen without shedding light on HOW or where we can find solutions then you are definitely in the right place.

Reverend Ruben Austria joins us from Community Connections for Youth (NY). Here he breaks down how he landed in this work and why he believes “Incarcerating youth has been a dismal failure.”

“Every dollar invested in putting youth through the juvenile justice system takes resources out of our communities. We are challenging juvenile justice systems to reinvest their resources in neighborhoods most impacted by incarceration to increase their level of partnerships with and financial support to neighborhood and grassroots organizations.”

He also shares the ways we can develop effective community-based alternatives to incarceration programs for youth, reduce youth crime, and ultimately improve the long-term life outcomes for youth.

We cover:

  • The myth of juvenile crime rate
  • How to short circuit the juvenile prison complex
    • in school systems
    • probation officers
    • police officers
    • and even how to work with prosecutors!
  • What is actually working at CCFY and why it is working
  • The success rate of the programs and alternatives

After hearing what Rev. Ruben had to say, and the success his organization has realized, I had to become a member on the spot…and I know you will too. Here is the link to donate and help them fight towards #NoKidsinCages. Please use this hashtag when sharing the episode.


Learn more about Rev. Ruben below. For links to the show notes subscribe to our “PanVisionary Email Newsletter” below…


More About Rev. Ruben Austria

Social Justice Podcast NJ Ruben Austria Community Connections for Youth

Rev. Ruben Austria, Executive Director of CCFY


Rev. Rubén Austria (Ruben@cc-fy.org) is the founding Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth.  As a 2007 Soros Justice Fellow with the W. Haywood Burns Institute, Rev. Austria advocated for the re-direction of funds from incarceration to community-based alternatives for youth. Seeing the need to equip more grassroots faith and community-based organizations to develop effective alternative-to-incarceration programs, he launched Community Connections for Youth in the fall of 2008. Rev. Austria is a respected advocate for juvenile justice reform and is recognized locally and nationally as an expert on community-based alternatives to incarceration. He serves on the national advisory board of the Community Justice Network for Youth, the Steering Committee of the Juvenile Justice Coalition of New York, and is a founding member of the NYC Task Force on Racial Disparity in the Juvenile Justice System. In 2004, he was selected as a Research Fellow by the Robert Bowne Foundation to conduct qualitative research on the youth development and juvenile justice and his article, “Towards a Movement: Uniting Direct Service Providers and Community Organizers for Juvenile Justice Reform”, was published in the Spring 2006 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Afterschool Matters. Rev. Austria earned both his B.S. in Psychology in 1996, and his M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies in 2002, from Cornell University. He completed the Institute for Non-Profit Management at Columbia University Business School’s Executive Education program in 1999.

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