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Juvenile Justice News

LA Blazing Path With Diversion Programs to Lessen Racial Bias for Youth of Color

All children make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes get them in trouble with the law. It happens in all kinds of families and in all kind of neighborhoods.

But when the upper-middle class, mostly white kids we knew as our children and grandchildren were growing up made questionable decisions, they often had resources to help them avoid the youth justice system. They got second chances, learned from their mistakes and were able to recover without serious repercussions.

We have spent our lives as activists, philanthropists and practitioners of civil rights law, witnessing the disproportionate and devastating impacts of the criminal justice system on poor communities of color. Data prove our anecdotal experiences.

Latest Feud Between Mayor and Governor? Juvenile Justice

The city has six months to move 16- and 17-year-old inmates off of Rikers Island under a new state law that raises the age of adult criminal responsibility. But the de Blasio administration says Albany is making it harder instead of easier to comply with the law.

"Arbitrary and capricious," said Elizabeth Glazer, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, in describing a state guideline requiring Rikers inmates be discharged into separate juvenile units from other comparably aged offenders.

Lawmakers push sweeping changes to 'safekeeping' law, ban sending teen safekeepers to prison

Tennessee lawmakers are ready to add significant new safeguards to a law that allows judges to send children, men and women not convicted of a crime to months in solitary confinement in a state prison. 

The proposed changes would ban sending juveniles to state prison through the controversial program and establishes a mandated review of whether those sent to solitary confinement before trial should remain. 

Lawmakers told Lovelock prison unsuited for juvenile inmates

Prison officials and the ACLU told lawmakers on Wednesday that Lovelock State Prison isn't the place juvenile inmates should be. Holly Welborn of the American Civil Liberties Union told the legislative study committee on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice those teenaged offenders can't access programming and live pretty much in isolation, unable to participate in education, counseling and outside activities. Lovelock Warden Renee Baker and Deputy Director of Corrections Howard Wickham agreed. "We run prisons for adults and we're trying to fit juveniles into that system," Wickham said. "It's very challenging for us."

Lawyer: 16-year-old Memphis girl being held in isolation in Nashville on first-degree murder charge

The 16-year-old Memphis girl charged with first-degree murder in the death of a teen boy last year in Binghampton is being held in isolation at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville, her attorney said Tuesday.

Lee High School class gains national recognition for efforts in youth advocacy

A group of young men at Lee High School is gaining national recognition for its advocacy around youth and juvenile justice issues. The class, which calls itself The Evac Movement, learned Tuesday it was the winner of the Campaign for Youth Justice’s social media campaign asking what change they want to see in youth justice. 

Legalized Torture: A Solitary Confinement Experience

As a young African-American, it is not anomalous to hear your professor or guest speaker tell you that more likely than not, you are going to end up imprisoned and disenfranchised at some point in your life — if not for the rest of your life. This is a future I would not wish upon anyone. Unfortunately, the educators are not misinformed. And of those persons imprisoned, between 80,000 and 100,000 U.S. inmates were placed in some form of solitary confinement in 2014.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Teenage brains not mature

Regarding your May 16 article, “DA: Prison for youth depends on the crime, 17 is ‘reasonable age.’” Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson is erroneous in her presumptions that teenagers have the same decision-making process as adults, and therefore should be treated as such.

Let’s Celebrate Our Success and Work Toward Much Needed Progress

Our success has been unquestionable. There has been a steep decline in youth incarceration in America and there has even been some progress moving juvenile justice systems away from being punitive and deficit-based and toward positive youth development. Much credit is due to youth justice reform advocates.

Life in prison? Interrogation without a lawyer? Kids aren't little adults. Stop treating them that way

 On a May morning in Riverside six years ago, 10-year-old Joseph H. pulled a Rossi .357 magnum revolver from his parents’ closet and shot his abusive, white supremacist neo-Nazi father to death. 

Little Hope of Release for Many Juveniles With Life Sentences in Illinois

The order came from a 15-year-old on a bicycle near a Chicago park in 2001: “Shoot him, shoot him.”

Benard McKinley, 16, obliged. And Abdo Serna-Ibarra, 23, never made his way to the soccer field.

McKinley was later arrested and charged as an adult with first-degree murder for the killing of Serna-Ibarra. In 2004, Cook County jurors found him guilty.

The sentencing judge, Kenneth J. Wadas, went on to make an example of McKinley and his murder, condemning the young man to 100 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections — 50 years for the murder and a consecutive 50 years for the fatal use of a firearm. The sentence was necessary to deter other criminals, Wadas said in court, and would enable others to play soccer with “one less Benard McKinley out there with a handgun blowing them away."

Locked Up for the Holidays

The “most wonderful time of the year” may be the hardest for tens of thousands of young people locked up for the holidays. But many states try — within the confines of security rules, budgets and protocols — to make the season a little brighter for youthful offenders, who often are housed far from home. 

Locked Up: What Is A Youth Prison?

For a young person who experiences life behind the walls of a youth prison, it can mean many things. We’re using the mnemonic, “locked up” to show some of these key characteristics of a youth prison. This article is the first in a series, Locked Up: What is a Youth Prison? One of those traits is that a youth prison is large. 

Louisiana Juvenile Defendant Age May Be Raised to 17

At 17, Devin Harris is not old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. But when he was accused of trying to use someone else’s credit card to buy cigarettes, he swiftly realized that — at least when it comes to the criminal justice system — the state of Louisiana considers him to be an adult. “The last thing I wanted was to be in the system,” said Mr. Harris, who was in jail for nine nights in April because his mother could not afford the bond before he entered a pretrial diversion program. For the teenager, those were long nights. “I called my dad — I ain’t talked to my dad in almost two years,” he said. “I just needed somebody to talk to.”

Louisiana ought to get 17-year-olds out of adult jails | Editorial

Two years ago, the Legislature voted to move 17-year-olds into the juvenile justice system. That is where they belong -- not in adult jails.

Lawmakers gave the state two years to transfer nonviolent offenders who are 17 into the juvenile system. That is supposed to happen July 1.

Now, Sen. Ronnie Johns wants to allow the state two more years to do that, extending the deadline to July 1, 2020. Even then, his Senate Bill 248 would give the Office of Juvenile Justice an out. 

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