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Juvenile Justice News

U.S. Senate: Time to stand for youth

With just days left in the 114th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the opportunity to lead the U.S. Senate in passing an important bill for our nation’s youth.  The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) reauthorization is bipartisan legislation that was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives this fall, and has received the support of 99 U.S. Senators.

U.S. states should ban solitary confinement for kids, doctors say

Too many incarcerated U.S. children serve time in solitary confinement even though the United Nations and many physician groups believe this form of punishment amounts to torture and should be banned, some doctors argue. U.S. President Barack Obama recently banned solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, but most incarcerated kids are housed in state and local facilities that aren’t covered by this ban, Dr. Mikah Owen and Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen of the University of Florida note in an article in the journal Pediatrics. 

Untrained Police Officers in Schools Focus on Girls of Color, Report Says

Black girls are nearly four times more likely to be arrested at school than their white counterparts and Latina girls are almost three times more likely to be arrested in elementary school than white girls, a new report says.

UTAH: In our opinion: Reform the juvenile justice system — an inspiring though not unique case in point

Article in the Deseret News

Society has long struggled over what to do with violent juvenile criminals — those who commit crimes so heinous they are cast as unredeemable. Juvenile detention centers were created as a way to recognize that people make mistakes as youths that they wouldn’t repeat once they matured into adulthood, but the public tends to view murder as a sign of incorrigibility.

Now a movement is afoot, including at the Utah Legislature, to take a softer approach, one that doesn’t lock doors and throw away keys on young people who, though guilty of terrible crimes, deserve an eventual second chance.

This is a good thing. Advocates of a bill they hope would eliminate life sentences for juveniles in Utah brought a powerful spokesman to Salt Lake City this month. We hope people were listening.

UTAH: John Florez: Courts Should Protect Children's Interests, Too (Deseret News)

"The idea that a child is put in adult prison with adult criminals - in my mind - is unconscionable," said state Sen. Aaron Osmond when he learned that a 16-year-old, charged as an adult, had been sentenced to Utah's adult prison. Osmond said he would sponsor a bill to change part of the current Utah Serious Youth Offender Law that allows judges to send minors to adult prison if they commit serious offenses. That law was passed when there was a national movement to be tough on crime.

VEGAS LOST: Local jail growing with a number of juveniles committing adult crimes 

They house dozens of young inmates and more come every day. There are more inmates then cells inside the Clark County Detention Center. The reality for the detention center is that the number of juveniles committing adult crimes is growing.

Victims of crime and reformers should work together on criminal justice reform

Recent criminal justice reforms, such as the creation of alternatives to incarceration and the tearing down of barriers to reentry from prison, have resulted in significant changes around the country. Nonetheless, there’s one thing that has remained the same: policymakers are failing to consult crime victims prior to the development and deployment of these reforms.

This National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we urge jurisdictions across the country to bring victims to the table and ask them what they think about criminal justice reform and how they can create a criminal justice system that better takes into account how to make victims whole. Their suggestions may be surprising, and they will help ensure that the changes policymakers create will serve everyone affected by the justice system.

Vital Juvenile Justice Initiatives at Risk in First 100 Days

From banning conversion therapy for gay and trans youth to eliminating solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons, President Obama issued a slew of executive orders designed to protect at-risk youth over the past eight years. Now, advocates are worried that new executive orders will undo all that’s been done.

Vote to Turn Tragedy for Young Black Men Into Hope

2018 has already been another year of tension in cities across the country between police officers and young black males. The headlines of these incidents never seem to cease. In March, officers in Sacramento, Calif., opened fired and killed Stephon Clark for standing in his own backyard holding a cellphone. Then in April, Brooklyn police officers shot and killed Saheed Vassel, an unarmed black man with mental disabilities when they mistakenly mistook the pipe he was holding for a gun.

Watch: History of the Juvenile Justice System

America incarcerates more juveniles than any country in the world. In 2015, black children were five times more likely than white children to be incarcerated. So while 86 of 100,000 white children in the United States were behind bars, 433 of 100,000 black children found themselves locked up. To understand how we got here, let’s first examine the evolution of the juvenile justice system.

WATCH: Short Documentary Explores History—and Present—of the Juvenile Justice System

A new short film from national advocacy campaign Youth First Initiative delves into the origin of youth prisons and how that history relates to today’s juvenile justice system, which disproportionately targets Black and Latinx children.

Watch: The Role of Teenage-Brain Science in Juvenile-Justice Reform

In 2005 the United States became the last country to end the death penalty for offenders under 18 years old. Adolescent neuroscience research played a huge part in changing this policy. However, there are still approximately 2,500 prison inmates in the United States serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed before they were 18.

Ways to Let Detained Youth Know They’re Not Forgotten This Holiday Season

As the holidays approach, we often forget there are so many youth who are detained, in placement or simply away from their families. There were 50,821 youth in some type of facility in 2014, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency and Prevention reported.

We Can Help You Reduce Use of Solitary in Your Juvenile Facility

By now, you have probably heard about Kalief Browder. Kalief spent three years in Rikers Island, two of them in solitary confinement, before charges against him were eventually dropped. He was 16 years old. Reports indicate that he was assaulted by correctional officers on camera and denied mental health services. After his release, the depression and flashbacks caused by these experiences led Kalief to take his own life.

We Need an Intersectional Approach to Juvenile Justice Reform

DMC (disproportionate minority contact) is no longer simply about the over-representation of black and brown youth in the juvenile justice system. In recent years, it has come to mean something far broader and deeper to those in the reform trenches.

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