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Juvenile Justice News

A Foundation Works To Engage Journalists in Juvenile Justice Reform

Reporters generally stink at math, yet they love numbers. The bigger the number, the more compelling the story becomes. Here's a number that scribes will hear at a juvenile-justice conference this week, sponsored by the Tow Foundation: It costs up to $90,000 to jail a youth for a year, and the re-offender rate is higher compared to cheaper intervention programs that stress staying in school and out of lockup.

Adam Sotak: Stop solitary confinement for kids

Regarding the May 26 news article “North Carolina prisons moving away from solitary confinement”: The N.C. Department of Public Safety should be applauded for its effort to phase out the inhumane practice of solitary confinement in state adult correctional facilities and for working with other state leaders and departments to help seek solutions to our state’s mental health crisis. Another unfortunate aspect of the solitary confinement issue is that since North Carolina automatically prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, some children in both county jails and at Foothills Correctional Center in Morganton are subjected to this cruel and counterproductive practice, also sometimes for months at a time. 

Arkansas: Advocates Urge Lawmakers For Juvenile Justice Reform

UALR Public Radio California

Legislators heard from advocates and officials hoping to reform the state's judicial justice system on Wednesday. Panelists told lawmakers Arkansas is institutionalizing too many young people for minor offenses and the costs are high. Madelyn Keith is with the Arkansas Youth Services Association. She wants more intervention to happen at the community level. "It's been proven over the years that when the state provides resources for services identified as needed by community stakeholders and these are implemented, then the commitments to the Division of Youth Services do decrease," she said.

ARKANSAS: Skipping no crime

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., alone stands in the way of an opportunity for our country to stop the socially and financially costly practice of incarcerating children for skipping school and running away from home. These behaviors, known as status offenses, are petitioned as a Family in Need of Services case in Arkansas and are illegal only because the youth has not yet reached 18. 

Attorney says Michigan isn't doing enough to protect teens in prison (Michigan Radio)

If you are a 17-year-old and you break a law here in Michigan, you’re going to be tried as an adult. Michigan is one of nine states that tries 17-year-olds as adults. And virtually every state allows prosecutors or judges to pursue sentencing of a 17-year-old as an adult in specific cases.Once these teens are in the adult prison population, they face the distinct prospect of being raped. The horrible stories of teens being sexually assaulted led Congress to pass a law called the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Bill to 'Raise the Age' of juvenile crime to 18 nears final step on legislative trail

Seventeen-year-olds arrested for nonviolent crimes would be tried and imprisoned under the juvenile justice system under a measure that moved one step closer to becoming law Wednesday. Senate Bill 324 would reduce crime and save the state money by raising the legal definition of a delinquent from 17 to 18, supporters told the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice, which approved the measure without objection. SB324, which already has won Senate passage, now goes to the full House. It is one of the legislative priorities of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Bill to Raise the Age heads to governor

A bill that aims to raise the age of prosecuting an individual as an adult is headed to the governor's desk for signature. SB 324, proposed by Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, on Sunday passed through the Senate by a vote of 33-4. The bill passed through the House June 2 with a vote of 97-3, which sent it back to the Senate for concurrence. 

CALIFORNIA: A question of basic morality (or lack of it) on legal defense for juveniles

There is something deceptively arcane in the details of a report released last week on the criminal defense of juveniles in Los Angeles County, and in a follow-up motion the Board of Supervisors is to take up on Tuesday. Panel lawyers, flat fees, hourly rates, caseloads — that kind of thing.

CALIFORNIA: As LA County ends solitary confinement for minors, artists step in to reimagine the SHU

At Camp Joseph Scott, a juvenile detention center in Santa Clarita, five girls worked on the wall – some standing, some crouching – their arms occasionally crisscrossing as they painted the nature scene. "I find it like a meditating type of therapy," said Anaceli, 17, who was five months into a seven-month sentence. (We're not using last names to protect the identities of the minors). 

CALIFORNIA: California debates banning long-term solitary confinement for minors

California could lead the way in banning long-term solitary confinement for juveniles in jail, ending a practice that experts say severely harms mental health and increases the risk of suicide.
A newly introduced bill, which has support from both criminal justice reform advocates and state probation officials, would bar youth detention centers from placing juveniles in isolation for more than four hours and says facilities could only use “room confinement” as a last resort after exhausting all less-restrictive options.

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CALIFORNIA: End solitary confinement in juvenile halls (LADN)

California legislators should know the name and story of Kalief Browder. Earlier this month the 22-year-old hanged himself with a cord from an air-conditioner at his family’s Bronx apartment. The once normal teen had endured two years of solitary confinement and beatings during his three years on Rikers Island. Never convicted of a crime, he was the subject of a New Yorker profile that offered a compelling case study on why the practice of isolating youth should stop. It achieves no reasonable goal of rehabilitation. And it is too often used as a primary means of control in juvenile halls.

California: New Law to Protect Jailed Youth

Human Rights Watch

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that could prevent hundreds of young offenders from enduring rape, assault, and gang life in prison, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 27, 2014, Brown signed Assembly Bill 1276, which requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to conduct committee-based, specialized review of each person under age 22 entering prison to consider placing them at a lower security level facility with increased access to educational and self-help programs. Human Rights Watch has advocated for passage of the bill. 

COLORADO: Bill to Limit Juvenile Solitary Confinement Advances in Colorado House

The state Legislature is considering a bill to limit the use of solitary confinement as a punishment for Colorado's youths. Despite a 1999 law banning seclusion, independent investigations have shown the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections has repeatedly put juveniles in isolation for days and weeks at a time. Elise Logemann, executive director of the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center, said two separate investigations found the state's Department of Youth Corrections had repeatedly held kids in small rooms with only a metal bed frame, toilet and sink. 

CONNECTICUT: A second chance for CT youths who break the law? (CTM)

After running away from home again, Adam was arrested and jailed for stealing food and magazines from a Hartford bodega. Thirty days later, he was still incarcerated as lawyers and a juvenile court judge tried to figure out what to do with the 17-year-old, who also was struggling with drugs and a mother who wasn’t showing up for his court dates. “Do we want him in custody?” Beth Crawford, an attorney for the state’s child welfare agency, asked the adolescent’s social worker minutes before a juvenile court judge would consider committing him to the Department of Children and Families. The answer to this question, while specific to each case, is one that judges, attorneys and lawmakers in Connecticut generally seem to have reached a consensus on.

Criminal justice reform: the facts about federal drug offenders

A fissure among Senate Republicans threatens federal criminal justice reform, one of the few statutory overhauls that could pass Congress in President Obama’s final year. The Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act (S. 2123), which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall by the comfortable margin of 15-5, has earned support from a bi-partisan group of Senators, the White House, and political advocacy organizations ranging from Koch Industries to the American Civil Liberties Union. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has described the bill as a “truly landmark piece of legislation,” that addresses “legitimate over-incarceration concerns while targeting violent criminals and masterminds in the drug trade.” 

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