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Juvenile Justice News

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.

Solitary Confinement Is What Destroyed My Son, Grieving Mom Says

This week, an unusual coalition of corrections officers and policy experts will come together in Washington, D.C., with one common goal in mind — to limit the use of solitary confinement for juveniles. The campaign has enlisted some powerful voices to warn about the harms of isolation for young people. Venida Browder lost her son twice: first to the lock-up at Rikers Island in New York, and then to suicide.

Some States Still Send Teens to Adult Prison

In most states, 18 is the age when you are seen as an adult in the eyes of the law, for better or for worse. Sometimes it’s good, like when you want to get a tattoo and not have your parents sign for it. But breaking the law means you could be arrested and summoned to appear in criminal court, where your newly minted adulthood might mean a harsher punishment. Yet in a handful of states you’re considered an adult in the justice system even before you turn 18.

South Carolina Close to Raising Age for Juvenile Offenders to 17

South Carolina is poised to join the majority of states that keep teenagers in the juvenile justice system until their 18th birthday. Senate lawmakers approved “raise the age” legislation (SB 916) late Tuesday that would increase the upper age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 17 for most young offenders. All but nine states already consider teenagers juveniles until they turn 18. 


SOUTH CAROLINA: SC Juvenile Justice Agency Was Warned Against Post-Riot Transfers

The scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) and its director, Sylvia Murray, were explicitly warned against transferring juvenile inmates to adult prisons in the aftermath of a dramatic escalation of violence at SCDJJ facilities.They didn’t listen…The outbursts of violence – which included a late February riot reported on exclusively by this website – have prompted multiple legislative investigations (and a sadly predictable response from governor Nikki Haley, whose administration oversees SCDJJ).

South Dakota: Governor backs bill for fewer juveniles in lockup (Argus Leader)

Gov. Dennis Daugaard is backing a bill to overhaul the state's juvenile corrections system. The bill, which also has the support of state Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson, would force a focus on diversion programs as a way to keep youth out of expensive placements with the Department of Corrections.

Stand up against failed policies: The youth prison

We often hear of the exceptional nature of the justice system in the United States. Indeed, our Constitution is meant to ensure that the rule of law holds sway above all else. As such, we are committed to treating our people fairly – without consideration of their age, gender, race, or religion. While our founding document has not always protected the most vulnerable among us, it has – over time – come to be the safeguard against the worst forms of abuse by government. 

State Senators Call for Major Reform of Juvenile Justice System

A package of legislation introduced Monday by a pair of California state senators could do away with incarceration for children under 12 years old and ban life sentences without parole for anyone under 18.

States May Face Stricter Standards to Prove They Are Protecting Kids in Custody

States soon may face stricter rules in order to demonstrate they are protecting juveniles in custody. Federal officials have proposed new compliance standards for states to show they keep juveniles out of adult facilities; ensure that when juveniles must be in such facilities, they are separated from adult inmates; and do not lock up status offenders.

States Must Move Funding from Correctional Facilities to Community-Based Treatment

Across the United States, juvenile arrest rates have reached 40-year lows, dropping precipitously over the past 20 years. From its peak in 1996 to the most recent national data available for 2014, the U.S. juvenile arrest rate has fallen by 65 percent overall, and 63 percent for violent felony arrests.

States See Clear Benefits to Keeping Youth Out of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Within the last decade, seven states have passed laws to raise the age on juvenile justice jurisdiction. This move means that 16- and 17-year-olds who were previously destined for adult criminal court are now being served by the juvenile justice system.

States see marked drop in juvenile prison populations as reforms take hold (Washington Post)

A falling crime rate and new reforms to the way juveniles are treated by the criminal justice system have dramatically cut the number of young people in state prisons, according to a new report that highlights the success of some of those reforms. The report, published by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, focuses on Texas, where a series of reforms passed by the legislature beginning in 2007 have helped keep thousands of juvenile offenders closer to home.

States Show Some Progress 2 Years After Kalief Browder’s Death

Today, June 6, 2017, marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating loss of Kalief Browder. Kalief was a 22-year-old whose traumatic and deeply unjust contact with the adult criminal justice system when he was only 16 changed the course of his life forever.

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