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Juvenile Justice News

Mother’s Day: Bittersweet for Families in the Justice System

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me—as it is for the thousands of other mothers around the country who have lost sons and daughters to our nation’s merciless criminal justice system. On Sunday, I will gather with my children and grandchildren for a late breakfast. They will give me flowers and, from the littlest, hand-drawn cards. And I will remember Jonathan, my youngest, taken from me by the state when he was just 16 years old. 

Mother’s Day: Spare A Thought For Moms With Kids Behind Bars

Burnt toast, strawberry jam, a half-eaten stick of bacon — all carefully arranged on a tray and plunked by loving hands onto the bellies that once carried them. That’s how many children and mothers start the first Sunday of May each year. Mother’s Day is among most precious days for many moms around the country.

Mullin bill would allow pretrial appeals in juvenile cases

Prosecutors argue that a juvenile justice bill moving through the General Assembly would allow more oversight of judges’ pretrial decisions in cases involving murder or rape, but defense attorneys are worried that it could keep children detained for longer than they should be.

N.C. Commission proposes 16-year-olds be tried as juveniles

Ninety-six percent of the crimes 16- and 17-year-olds commit in North Carolina are non-violent. Eighty percent of those crimes are misdemeanors. Yet 100 percent of these teenagers are tried as adults. In most states, the age of criminal adulthood is 18. Five states mandate 17-year-olds be tried as adults, but North Carolina and New York require kids as young as 16 to be automatically tried in adult court.

N.J.'s jails are not asylums. Stop locking up the mentally ill

Less than 48 hours after yelling at the cops, "I want to jump off a bridge," a suicidal 26-year-old man was found hanging in his jail cell, a laundry bag roped around his neck.

Can't exactly say we didn't see it coming. His death in March was the fourth Hudson County jail suicide in less than a year. Cumberland's jail had at least six suicides within three years.

This isn't just about taking suicide precautions. It's also about the mentally ill - many of whom shouldn't be locked up in the first place.

NATIONAL: American Horror Story: Children Are Being Housed In Adult Prisons Across The Country. It Has To Stop (Huffington Post)

Reading Dana Liebelson's investigation into the treatment of children in America's adult prisons, one entirely irrational thought occurs over and over: Somebody needs to send in a SEAL team that can land on the prison roof, shimmy inside and rescue these kids before any more harm is done to them. 

Of course, the kids aren't being held by a hostile foreign government or a rogue terrorist group, but, in this particular case, by the state of Michigan. The sense of urgency, however, is real, driven by the kinds of stories Liebelson uncovers: a boy who says he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by grown men he's forced to bunk with; a girl manhandled in a cell extraction captured on video; a lack of any focus on educational or rehabilitative services; the casual use of solitary confinement; kids attempting suicide in the most horrific ways. And for what?

NATIONAL: Black Students In The U.S. Get Criminalized While White Students Get Treatment (HuffPost Black Voices)

When black and white kids act up or display troubling behavior at schools, teachers and administrators often address it with differing responses split along racial lines, new research shows. 
Black students are more likely to be punished with suspensions, expulsions or referrals to law enforcement, a phenomenon that helps funnel kids into the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, white kids are more likely to be pushed into special education services or receive medical and psychological treatment for their perceived misbehaviors, according to a study released last week in the journal Sociology of Education.
Overall, this pattern often leads to the criminalization of young black students and the medicalization of white students. 

NATIONAL: Cause Unites the Left and the Right: Justice Reform (New York Times)

Usually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries and the Center for American Progress have found at least one thing they can agree on: The nation's criminal justice system is broken. Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a Washington-based liberal issues group, are coming together to back a new organization called the Coalition for Public Safety

NATIONAL: Girls in Justice (Huffington Post )

I'm grateful for a powerful new book, Girls in Justice by artist Richard Ross, a follow-up to his moving earlier Juvenile in Justice, which combines Ross' photographs of girls in the juvenile justice system with interviews he gathered from over 250 detention facilities across the United States. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the deeply disturbing photographs speak volumes.  

National: Grassley Lists Juvenile Justice As a Top Priority

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lists juvenile justice among his top legislative priorities, heartening juvenile justice advocates.

 Beth Levine, Grassley’s press secretary, told JJIE Tuesday that he considered juvenile justice one of several top priorities. “It’s an important issue, so hopefully the fact that the chairman is working on it reflects that,” Levine said.

NATIONAL: History of Abuse Seen in Many Girls in Juvenile System (New York Times)

As many as 80 percent of the girls in some states’ juvenile justice systems have a history of sexual or physical abuse, according to a report released Thursday. The report, a rare examination of their plight, recommends that girls who have been sexually trafficked no longer be arrested on prostitution charges.
The study, “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story,” found that sexual abuse was among the primary predictors of girls’ involvement with juvenile justice systems, but that the systems were ill-equipped to identify or treat the problem.

NATIONAL: Incarcerated Youth at Risk: Is Your Facility Doing Enough to Avoid Liability? (Corrections.com)

As we embark upon another month in this brand new year, we focus on training in the area of Corrections. More and more, correctional officers and administrators find themselves facing critically at-risk youth in correctional settings. That sober fact begs several questions: Are Juvenile Correctional Officers properly trained for that type of population?

NATIONAL: Jailed at 12, youngest convicted killer now free at 29 (USA Today)

Curtis Fairchild Jones walked into prison a 12-year-old boy. On Tuesday morning, he walked out a 29-year-old man.
Prison officials confirmed that Jones was released from South Bay Correctional Facility, just south of Lake Okeechobee, shortly after 7 a.m. Jones has refused all interview requests from Florida Today and his attorney said there will be no statement made to the media.
He leaves prison a convicted murderer, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, a brother to a sister scheduled to be released from prison Saturday, and an ordained minister. Time will tell if he has had a chance to work through the demons that terrorized his childhood and drove him to take a life.

NATIONAL: Juvenile-Justice Reform: What Are We Waiting For? (Huffington Post)

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) has worked for two decades on state and national policy platforms to address issues of discrimination and disparate treatment of Latino youth in the criminal-justice system, including strengthening the protections under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974. JJDPA established federal oversight on the treatment of youth in state detention facilities. The act was intended to move young offenders out of adult prison and address racial disparities across the juvenile-justice system. 

NATIONAL: Kids Can Change: Stop Sending Juveniles to Adult Prisons and Jails

Article from The Huffington Post

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision is a deceptively simple line that should affect, and in many cases, transform the way Americans think about juveniles who kill. At the heart of the 2012 groundbreaking case, Miller v. Alabama, said the Court, is the idea, proven by neuroscience and behavioral research, that "children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change."

In other words, when we think about kids convicted of murder, this is the truth: a 16-year-old who kills is still a 16-year-old. 

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