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Juvenile Justice News

NATIONAL: Jailed at 12, youngest convicted killer now free at 29 (USA Today)

Curtis Fairchild Jones walked into prison a 12-year-old boy. On Tuesday morning, he walked out a 29-year-old man.
 
Prison officials confirmed that Jones was released from South Bay Correctional Facility, just south of Lake Okeechobee, shortly after 7 a.m. Jones has refused all interview requests from Florida Today and his attorney said there will be no statement made to the media.
 
He leaves prison a convicted murderer, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, a brother to a sister scheduled to be released from prison Saturday, and an ordained minister. Time will tell if he has had a chance to work through the demons that terrorized his childhood and drove him to take a life.

NATIONAL: Juvenile-Justice Reform: What Are We Waiting For? (Huffington Post)

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) has worked for two decades on state and national policy platforms to address issues of discrimination and disparate treatment of Latino youth in the criminal-justice system, including strengthening the protections under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974. JJDPA established federal oversight on the treatment of youth in state detention facilities. The act was intended to move young offenders out of adult prison and address racial disparities across the juvenile-justice system. 

NATIONAL: Kids Can Change: Stop Sending Juveniles to Adult Prisons and Jails

Article from The Huffington Post

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision is a deceptively simple line that should affect, and in many cases, transform the way Americans think about juveniles who kill. At the heart of the 2012 groundbreaking case, Miller v. Alabama, said the Court, is the idea, proven by neuroscience and behavioral research, that "children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change."

In other words, when we think about kids convicted of murder, this is the truth: a 16-year-old who kills is still a 16-year-old. 

National: Meet the adolescent girls we put behind bars (Fusion)

When a 14-year-old girl ends up in juvie, people focus on the crime. Drugs, shoplifting, truancy. But what frequently gets swept under the rug is how she got there. Abusive parents. Forced prostitution. Foster care, the bad kind. Girls in custody are four times more likely than incarcerated boys to say they've been sexually abused, and nearly two times more likely to say they've been physically abused. The statistics are horrendous but they're also faceless and easy to ignore.

NATIONAL: Prosecutors Should Support Juvenile Justice Reform Legislation (Huffington Post Crime)

As a former prosecutor, I know well the strong sense of justice that motivates district attorneys to do their jobs day after day. Confronted as they are with some of the worst actions humans can commit, even murder, they seek to uphold the rights of victims and ensure public safety, both noble goals, by punishing the offenders. The American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Standards for prosecutors remind us, however, that justice, not merely convictions, must be the prosecutor's ultimate goal.

NATIONAL: Tense Floor Exchange Blocks Juvenile Justice Bill

Article from Roll Call

A tense exchange on the Senate floor presaged the blocking of bipartisan legislation to overhaul the juvenile justice system. “I’m trying to get accountability for this program. That’s what’s at stake here,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said to Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in a private exchange while the chamber was still voting Thursday on a judicial nominee. Grassley had come to the floor with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to ask for unanimous consent to pass their bill to reauthorize the 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. 

NATIONAL: The Dark Realities Of Being A Minor In Prison (HuffPost Live)

The Huffington Post goes deep into the realities of being a minor in police custody with a new investigative feature, "Cruel And All-Too-Usual: A Terrifying Glimpse Into Life In Prison -- As A Kid."

NATIONAL: The JJIE Interview: OJJDP's Listenbee Answers Critics, Assesses Agency (JJIE)

Robert L. Listenbee Jr. views himself as a juvenile justice visionary. Many juvenile justice advocates agree, as Listenbee prepares to enter his third year as administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Listenbee, the first African-American to head OJJDP, brought to the job nearly three decades of experience as a juvenile defender in Pennsylvania. 

NATIONAL: The Sex-Abuse-to-Prison Pipeline: How Girls of Color Are Unjustly Arrested and Incarcerated (The Root)

In 2014, President Barack Obama announced My Brother’s Keeper, a desperately needed initiative to create educational and economic opportunities for black and brown boys and men. In addition to My Brother’s Keeper, there has been a new and emerging recognition that mass incarceration must come to an end, along with the school-to-prison pipeline that relegates so many youths of color to the juvenile-justice system.
 
Against the backdrop of these efforts, there seems to be a common trope that girls of color are fine. Unlike black and brown boys, they are not endangered by punitive school policies that push them out, or a systematic criminalization of their behavior that pipelines them into the juvenile-justice system. Black and brown girls are not fine, and their struggles are being dangerously left out of the discursive spaces on criminal-justice reform.

NATIONAL: The states where children are most likely to be locked up, poor and hungry (Washington Post)

There are many ways to measure what it means today to be a kid in America: We can size up the number of children in poverty, or the share who, at some point in the past year, didn't have enough to eat. We can count how often their parents read to them, or how many got drunk in the last month.
 
We can track their movement through the juvenile justice system or foster care, or in and out of health insurance. We can size up the behaviors that seem to predict success — or a shortage of it — later in life: How many teens already have babies of their own, or managed to graduate high school on time?
 
Every year the Annie E. Casey Foundation updates a massive trove of data on all of these indicators tracing the wellbeing of America's children. And the metrics vary broadly across the country — another sign that where children live heavily shapes the chances they have in life.

National: Trying to Fix America's Broken Juvenile Justice System (Rolling Stone)

As Congress begins its new session, youth advocates are looking forward to the passage of a bipartisan bill that would strengthen protections for young people involved in the juvenile justice system. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2014, or S. 2999, introduced late last year by senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), aims to reauthorize and update the only federal law that sets national standards for how states administer juvenile justice.

NATIONAL: Why Americans Don't Care About Prison Rape (The Nation)

In June of 2012, the New York Times “Room for Debate” feature considered whether or not convicted youth offenders should be treated differently than adult convicts in the penal system. Those in favor of trying some youth offenders in adult courts included a victims’ advocate, and an attorney from the conservative Heritage Foundation; those against included an inmate at California’s San Quentin prison, and a human rights activist. The victims’ advocate and the attorney from the Heritage Foundation talked about extreme cases of violence and the benefits of stern consequences. The inmate and the human rights activist talked about rape.

Nearly Half Of Juvenile Centers Use Isolation As A Form Of Control

A West Virginia mother whose 16-year-old son was struggling with ADHD wanted to get him services but wasn’t sure what to do. The assistant principal at her son’s school suggested she file an incorrigibility petition — a status offense — against her son, whom we’ll call John, so he would be eligible for those services.

NEBRASKA: OPINION: Solitary confinement changes not enough

For a notoriously red state, Nebraska is joining a blue movement to make our justice system less damaging to youths- at least we’re starting. Legislative bill 845, which passed this winter, said that Juvenile facilities have to file reports on their use of solitary confinement so the state can provide an annual report, but we need to do more to protect our children. This bill comes in response to a report done by the American Civil Liberties Union, “Growing Up, Locked Down.”



NEVADA: One View: Solitary confinement damaging to kids

Article from Reno Gazette Journal

The use of solitary confinement in the U.S. dates back to the early 1820s when prison architects created the “separate system.”

In this system, all cells throughout an institution were designed to hold individual prisoners in solitary confinement. Inmates did not interact with or even see other prisoners. It was thought that inmates would be reformed through forced reflection (with nothing else to occupy them), which in turn would lead to penitence and the desire to be law-abiding.

This approach to achieving public safety and offender reform failed. Offenders suffered serious mental breakdowns and had high rates of recidivism. Criticisms of the inhumanity of the separate system led to its disuse. 

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