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Juvenile Justice News

A decade after prison, a poet studies for the bar exam

Reginald Dwayne Betts has wanted to be a lawyer for almost as long as he has wanted to be a poet. “Poetry and law have always been intertwined in my mind,” he said recently, “in part because poetry gives me the language to pretend that I can answer questions, even if I can’t.” We were in New Haven, Connecticut, and Betts was three days from his Yale Law School graduation. The bar exam was two months away. He was focused on his final paper for an empirical-research class: twenty pages on critiques, in the media, of “broken windows” policing. 


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.

A New Season For Youth Justice Reform

Summer has begun, and while some kids will be enjoying their first taste of freedom, others will be doing anything but. On any given day, more than 54,000 youth in the U.S. are being held under lock and key in residential placement facilities. In New York alone, over 1,600 youth are in confinement. And in this current moment, a kid in prison in almost any other State would also be hundreds of miles away from their home. We have essentially taken the structure of the adult corrections system and slapped it on youth. 

Accountability, it's more than just a word

He wanted to apologize, but his lawyer said, "Absolutely not!" He wanted to admit that he did it and wanted to say how sorry he was, but his lawyer refused to allow him to say anything, let alone admit to any wrongdoing. He explained to Malik, a 15-year-old youth from the South Side of Chicago that he was to deny any knowledge of the incident. Malik was detained in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago and was being charged as an adult for robbery.

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. 

ALABAMA: Athens City Schools to offer more opportunities for incarcerated youth

Incarcerated youth across the state will soon be able to continue their education and even earn their high school diploma through Athens City Schools. "There are hundreds of students in county jails either sentencing or waiting to be moved to another facility; they are not receiving any educational services," says Athens City School spokesperson Chris Hamilton.

ALABAMA: Legislation would require judge's OK before teens tried as adults

Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, has pre-filed legislation that would change Section 12-15-204 of the Alabama Code so those 16 and over charged with capital offenses, class A felonies and other violatant and crimes aren’t automatically placed in the adult system. Instead, a judge would have to decide if the teen is tried as adult.

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Anger Management and the Code of the Street

The room was stuffy and hot, the scent of stale snack foods hung in the air and the boys in the anger management group in this locked facility were distracted. As a young clinician and group facilitator, I was frustrated.

ANGIE’S STORY – PARENTS LIKE US CLUB

Just over two years ago I was gloriously naive. Before the police knocked on my door the morning of May 31st, 2014, there was a lot I didn’t know. I didn’t know my daughter had a serious mental illness. Morgan had always been a quirky child. Extremely intelligent and intensely creative, people often said that she “marched to the beat of her own drum.” Although (in retrospect) there were a few red flags over the years, we were continuously reassured by her doctors and educators that Morgan was well “within the range of normal.” 

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 Jeree Thomas joins the Campaign for Youth Justice

Jeree Thomas has joined the Campaign for Youth Justice in Washington, DC as the organization’s new policy director. As policy director Thomas will manage the organization’s policy development, conduct policy analysis, and provide support to the campaign’s partners at the state level. 

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. 

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