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Juvenile Justice News

Why the U.S. juvenile justice system needs serious reform

In A&E's infamous show, Beyond Scared Straight, "at-risk" kids with major behavioral problems are thrust into adult prisons for a day to literally scare them into never wanting to see the inside of a jail cell again. Once at the prisons, they are spat on, temporarily enclosed in holding cells and given the rundown of prison life. And these one-day interventions are just the beginning.

Will Presidential Candidates Oppose Prosecuting Children As Adults?

As physicians, we are often on the front lines of tragedies such as those in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas recently and in Florida in June. During these troubling times and two contentious national conventions, we are beginning to wonder what changes are in store for our profession and our patients.

Women pedal across state on Journey for Justice

Tracy McClard and her mother, Vicky Moses, made it to Jefferson City on the Katy Trail by midday Wednesday. They were almost halfway through a 200-mile bike ride. Their family was waiting for them at the trailhead, but an important member was absent: McClard’s youngest son. He’s the reason the two women are riding. Tracy and her 72-year-old mother are cycling from Sedalia to St. Charles in four days on their Journey for Justice across Missouri. The women aim to raise awareness about minors placed in the adult criminal justice system. McClard, creator of the Missouri group Families and Friends Organizing for Reform of Juvenile Justice (FORJ-MO), began to champion this cause after she lost her teenage son. More here

Your Child’s Been Sent to Jail. And Then Comes the Bill

In dozens of one-on-one meetings every week, a lawyer retained by the city of Philadelphia summons parents whose children have just been jailed, pulls out his calculator and hands them more bad news: a bill for their kids’ incarceration.

Youth advocate Jim St. Germain: “There are a lot of kids out there hurting”

Jim St. Germain came to America from Haiti at the tender age of 10. Like many young immigrants, he thought the streets would be paved with gold and opportunities were abundant; however, he discovered the opposite. St. Germain’s family struggled to make money early on. Some of those struggles poured over into his neighborhood and affected his schoolwork.

Youth Zone Corner: Find the ‘why’ of troubling youth behavior

Psychological trauma — words that no one likes to hear, especially when these words coincide with some of our community's most vulnerable: children and teenagers. There is no doubt that psychological trauma is a hard topic of discussion, but it is an important one because it drastically affects a large number of our youth.

‘Every Youth Prison in the Country Should Be Closed’

The nearly two-centuries-old approach in America to institutionalizing and detaining young people who run afoul of the law must be replaced by a system that takes into account the different developmental needs of youth—and the interests of society in making sure they aren’t channeled into a lifetime of criminal behavior, says a paper sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School and the National Institute of Justice.

‘Raise the Age’ Is the New ‘Ban the Box’

Thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds across the country are poised to benefit from criminal justice reform’s latest bipartisan effort. Of the nine remaining states that automatically try 17-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system (two of them deem 16-year-olds "adults" for the purpose of prosecution), legislation pending in seven of the states would shift those cases into the juvenile system, where penalties are lesser, detention facilities less harsh, and opportunities for rehabilitation greater. 

‘This Is Wrong’: The Hurdles Keeping Sexual Assault Survivors Behind Bars From Services

Jessica Seipel still remembers how intimidated she was the first time she entered a prison. “You go through a door and hear it slam behind you,” she told Rewire. “Then you go through another door and you hear that slam behind you.”

“They Call Us Monsters”: teenage boys facing life in prison become screenwriters

Juan Gamez has close-cropped, black hair and a baby face that remains expressionless except when he smiles. As a 16-year-old boy facing 90 years to life for first-degree murder, he seems to float somewhere above or below this fact, as do Antonio Hernandez and Jarad Nava, the other teenage boys awaiting similar sentences in Ben Lear’s moving documentary, “They Call Us Monsters,” a film that connects a 20-week screenwriting class inside Sylmar, a segregated unit for juveniles being tried as adults, with the passing of SB 260, legislation that grants youth serving life sentences the possibility of parole. 

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