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Juvenile Justice News

TENNESSEE: Criminal justice reform advocates troubled about juvenile court reports

Criminal justice reform advocates responded with concern Thursday following reports that detention at Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County became more dangerous after Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham took over detention operations on July 1.
Reports released Wednesday showed an increase in suicidal behavior, use of force, assaults on youth by each other and staff reporting they fear for their safety.

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Texas, Missouri Debate Next Step on Raise the Age

Brett Merfish had a list of reasons why Texas should raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. She pointed to research showing that states that had already adopted the practice saw crime and recidivism reduced and better outcomes for the juveniles and their families.

TEXAS: Harris County faces space issues to protect teen inmates

Harris County has had problems complying with a law meant to protect youthful offenders and reduce sexual assaults in jail. The Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/29qPAVn) reported Tuesday that 17-year-olds at the county jail in Houston, when prosecuted as adults, have no place to go while awaiting trial.

TEXAS: The Texas Way on Juvenile Justice (New York Times)

Texas has made huge strides in reforming its once hellish juvenile justice system. Young offenders in state facilities were once subjected to brutality, neglect and sexual abuse. But after revelations of those conditions led to a public outcry in 2007, elected officials moved quickly to make sure that troubled young people were more likely to find the services they needed - and to keep as many young people as possible from entering state facilities in the first place. As important, the state now has the data to prove that it has made progress and to point to where it might make more. 

The 14-Year-Old Who Grew Up in Prison

No crime story fulfills our need for justice without a corresponding punishment. That's how wrongs are righted in our moral imaginations. But if the crime and punishment aren't balanced, we're left waiting for an equilibrium that never comes. This is one of those stories.

The Battle Against Prisons for Kids

 For as long as youth prisons have existed in the United States, so too has the pretense that there are no youth prisons. Early 19th century reformers who sought to remove children from the harsh adult penal system established new institutions specifically for the detention of youths. They didn’t call them prisons, but Houses of Refuge, dedicated to the discipline and reform of newly coined group, “juvenile delinquents.” Founded with ostensibly laudable intent, the institutions were overcrowded fortresses, riddled with abuse, serving to institutionalize strict social control over poor and immigrant communities. That is, they were prisons.

The Curse of Custody: Enduring Incarceration

Karma arrives abruptly when locked in a court school classroom. Not the usual lock-in. No way out. Twenty students. Twenty pencils. Twenty hearts with rage. No available intervention for a scuffle. 

The impact of silence: The incarceration of children who have committed no crime

=Congress has recessed for the summer without passing any justice reform—not in the criminal nor juvenile justice arenas.  Neither the Sentencing & Corrections Reform Act (SCRA), nor the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)—both bills with bipartisan support—were able to be passed into law before the long summer recess. 

The Justice System Continues to Fail Black Boys

As we begin another Black History Month, it is time to celebrate the contributions and history of African Americans in this country.  Along with the celebration of progress, it’s also a time to reflect on areas for improvement. How young Black boys are treated in the criminal justice system is one of those areas. 

The Justice System Continues to Fail Black Boys

As we begin another Black History Month, it is time to celebrate the contributions and history of African Americans in this country. Along with the celebration of progress, it’s also a time to reflect on areas for improvement. How young black boys are treated in the criminal justice system is one of those areas. 

The Reckoning Over Young Prisoners Serving Life

It’s been more than seven years since the U.S. Supreme Court began to chip away at life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders, and lower courts are still wrestling with how to apply the justices’ logic to the American criminal-justice system.

The Sentencing Project Highlights Criminal Justice Reforms

A recent report from the Washington-based The Sentencing Project highlights a variety of reforms made by state Departments of Corrections in an effort to reduce prison population and advance inmate rehabilitation. The report indicates that 17 states adopted such reforms in 2016, and that the “issue of mass incarceration has gained broader attention among diverse constituencies,” including lawmakers and civil rights advocates, contributing to a more receptive political environment for criminal justice reform.

The Unfinished Business of Juvenile Justice

Lawmakers in New York, North Carolina, Missouri, and Texas are currently debating proposals that would move 16-or-17-year-olds (or both) out of the adult criminal justice system and into the juvenile court. 

These kids needed help, not a prison sentence

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my five years working with incarcerated youth and their families, it’s that there is always more to a case than what’s on paper. As a lead facilitator with the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project, I help families in my hometown of San Jose, Calif. participate in the legal defense of their loved ones. We do this in court by presenting a more complete picture of the person on trial—one that includes their relationship to community, their family background, their hopes and dreams.

To stop sexual assault in the juvenile system, close youth prisons

This week's U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics new report on sexual victimization of youth locked up in the juvenile justice system confirms what we already know about youth prisons: They aren't safe. According to the BJS report, rates of sexual victimization of incarcerated youth in the juvenile justice system have increased over the last decade. 

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