What Sets Juvenile Justice Apart? A Conversation with William Rodriguez


The Juvenile Justice major at Wheelock College is a unique program that allows aspiring social workers, teachers, and others to advocate for youths and their families. Unlike traditional criminology programs, Wheelock’s Juvenile Justice program applies a positive youth development model. Aspiring professionals in this field have a strengths-based mindset that allows the adolescents they work with to move forward positively. The Juvenile Justice program teaches students how to utilize the systems that they will be working with, such as schools or state services, by advocating for the needs of the youths themselves.  At Wheelock College, you will learn all the tools and skills needed to improve the lives of youths and their families.

Millions of youth come in contact with the U.S. legal system each year, and hundreds of thousands will be placed in locked settings. The juvenile justice system has a mandate that stresses both rehabilitation and punishment. Unfortunately, our system often relies on punishment and fails to rehabilitate. In our program, we strive to imagine and create more effective prevention and response strategies for youth at risk. Our dual goal is to support youth and families, and ensure the safety of our communities.

Professor William Rodriguez, featured in the video above, has worked in the criminal justice and legal systems for over 25 years.  He has also served in a variety of leadership positions, including executive director of the Boston Campaign for Proficiency, La Alianza Hispana, the Crime and Justice Foundation, and at the Vera Institute of Justice. He is a passionate and zealous advocate of human and civil rights, social justice, and democratic equity for youth.

Learn more about the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy program at Wheelock College.