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Juvenile Justice News

Prison for kids doesn’t work, and good alternatives are out there

Imagine a California without youth prisons because we don’t need them anymore. Young people would still make mistakes, some of them tragic. But instead of being taken from their families and schools, they would receive community-based counseling, mentoring, job training and opportunities that build on their strengths, enabling them to become productive adults.

Prosecution of Young People as Adults Defies Spirit of Supreme Court Ruling

Article by Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO, on the Annie E. Casey Foundation Blog

Fifty years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the rights of children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. In Kent v. United States, the Court determined whether a child had a right to be heard and, if so, the right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Read more.

Pulling Back on the Barbaric Use of Solitary Confinement

The Justice Department took a farsighted step last year when it banned the use of solitary confinement for young people in federal prisons. The decision — based on research showing that isolation promotes mental illness and self-harm — followed the widely publicized suicide of Kalief Browder, a young man who had been unjustly accused of a minor crime and sent to New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail complex, where he spent two traumatic years in solitary confinement.

Raise the Age bill nears final legislative passage

The Raise the Age Bill is moving closer to final legislative passage, as it has been approved by the House Criminal Justice Committee without objection. The measure would increase the age at which someone can be tried as an adult for nonviolent crimes from 17 to 18. Executive Director for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights Joshua Perry supports the bill. He says a mistake at 17 shouldn't ruin someone’s life.

Raise the age to get appropriate justice for all under 18

This month, New York passed among the nation’s strongest measures to “raise the age,” making it the 49th state to refrain from trying all 16-year-old criminal defendants as adults, and the 44th state to refrain from trying all 17-year-olds as adults, once the rollout is complete in 2020.

Remembering Michael Brown: Police Don’t Create Safety

Today, we reflect on the memory of Mike Brown, the 18-year-old unarmed black teen fatally shot six times, twice in the head, by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson.

Removing Youth from Adult Court: Much to Celebrate, More to Fight For

In its Blueprint for Youth Justice Reform, the Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG) laid out a ten point plan to reduce youth justice involvement and improve outcomes for youth up to age 25.  Point six in the plan calls for “keeping youth out of adult court, jails and prisons; a policy that is dangerous, ineffective, harmful and costly.” 

Report Says Costs and Juvenile Crime are Down in Some States Trying 17-Year-Olds as Juveniles

Three states that have led a trend toward once again trying 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles have seen falling juvenile crime and stable costs. That’s a major finding of the Justice Policy Institute’s report, “Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System,” according to the organization’s press release. The report, released March 7, looks at the results of “raising the age” in seven states that have done that in the past 10 years: Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Roberta Richman: Life-without-parole for teens is unjust

The Rhode Island Senate took a critical step toward implementing age-appropriate accountability for children in the criminal justice system when it passed S-237 last week. The House should pass this legislation, or its companion bill, H-5183, both of which would provide a parole hearing for everyone sentenced as a youth under 18.

School-to-Prison Pipeline Can Be Dismantled Using Alternative Discipline Strategies

 The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the streamlining of at-risk students from schools to incarceration or related correctional-type facilities that results from punitive discipline practices and criminalizing misconduct in schools.

Senator Tom Cotton Wants to Keep Kids in Jail

The Arkansas senator is on track to single-handedly block a bill that would have stopped law enforcement from throwing children in prison for minor offenses. It should get our attention when a lone senator stops a popular piece of bipartisan legislation, blocking passage and opposing the prevailing opinion even in his own party. That’s what Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a rising star in the GOP, has done and in a few weeks he’ll have successfully killed the much needed and long overdue reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The law, which expired in 2007, banned states receiving federal money from jailing juveniles in correctional facilities where they would be in contact with adults convicted of criminal charges. 

Session’s Hardline Stance on Youth Incarceration at Odds with Public’s View

Last week, the new top lawman of the United States promised to forge an era of hardline “law and order” around the country, even as Americans across party lines support very different, less punitive approaches to questions of justice and young people, according to a new study.

Several States Look to Keep Teenagers Out of Criminal Court

This year, several states have passed or are considering reforms that aim to reduce the number of teenagers charged in adult criminal court. Some of the most aggressive changes focus on limiting prosecutors’ authority to charge juveniles in adult court without a judicial hearing — a process known as direct file. 

Should ZIP Codes determine juvenile arrest records? Florida Senate doesn’t think so

When a juvenile gets caught shoplifting or trespassing or smoking marijuana in Florida, what happens next depends on their ZIP Code. In some parts of the state, the child is automatically put into a program that diverts first-time offenders from arrest so they can avoid a criminal record that could follow them the rest of their lives. In other areas, however, they face arrest — and a record.

Sixteen-year-old with autism gets three years’ probation

 Because of a year’s difference in their ages, two teens were treated differently after lodging false bomb threats at their school.

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