Advancing juvenile justice reform in the interest of children and families

About the Project

“This is the first time I know of for our office to host a movie screening – a bit out of the box in terms of normal business! This was a successful event that should have many stakeholders talking about right to counsel, shackling, probation, and other systemic issues.” – Amy Borror, Legislative & Media Liaison, Office of the Ohio Public Defender

Kids for Cash is a riveting look behind a notorious judicial court scandal that rocked the nation, exposing a need for juvenile justice system reform that works on behalf of children and families. Working with the film in its earliest stages of production, Active Voice convened strategy meetings with juvenile justice reform experts, and conducted test screenings with advocates and systems professionals alike, in order to craft a plan in advance of the film’s release.

Working around the film’s February 2014 theatrical release, we conducted a multi-city tour of screenings in states at the forefront of the movement, engaging influentials in dialogue and action in support of state-based reform. Though the film focuses largely on a judicial scandal, our work focused on what people can do to ensure that the juvenile justice system is working on behalf of children and families, and not causing more harm. Ultimately our campaign was effective at raising the visibility of juvenile justice reform efforts, attracting the support of influentials, and contributing to policy advancements.

Our Work

  • National braintrusts and strategy development
  • National partnerships
  • VIP screenings for policymakers, systems professionals, and advocates
  • Pre-release screenings in 14 markets, in partnership with state-based juvenile justice organizations
  • 16-minute video module and practitioner guide
  • Web conceptualization, writing, and production
  • Promotion and coordination of Gathr release among advocates
  • Discussion guide and event planning guide
  • Evaluation


  • All local partners made strides in advancing state-based reform efforts
  • Interest generated in the film from the Department of Justice
  • Dozens of juvenile justice organizations trained to use the film in their work
  • New or enhanced relationships with local organizations and key influentials
  • Greater awareness of local partner’s key issues among audience members
  • Greater visibility and support for the work of local partners
  • Increased community participation in coalitions and local juvenile justice efforts
  • Dialogue about key issues among community members in the weeks following the screenings

Key Partners

  • SenArt Films
  • Juvenile Law Center
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • National Juvenile Justice Network
  • Coalition for Juvenile Justice

Film Trailer

Filmmaker Robert May, SenArt Films




  • Discussion Guide

    This guide can be used to spark meaningful discussions and action. It enables users to connect the issues in the film to things happening in their own state or community, highlighting successful programs and policies as well as potential actions they can take. Download the guide here.

  • Event Planning Guide

    This guide will help you plan a community event using the film Kids for Cash to spark dialogue and action about the need for a juvenile justice system that works in the best interest of youth and families. This guide serves as a step-by-step manual on planning and executing a thoughtful and effective event. Download the guide here.