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Juvenile Justice News

We Need to Help Immigrant Youth, Not Scapegoat Them

Animals.” “Menace.” “Blood-stained killing fields.” These are all terms President Donald Trump used in a one-week period to describe undocumented immigrants, alleged members of MS-13 and the purported harm they are causing our country. The White House doubled down on these assertions by releasing an official statement titled, “What You Need to Know About the Violent Animals of MS-13.”

What About Convicts of Violent Crimes?

Marcus Bullock is an incarceration-reform advocate who launched a painting company after his 2004 release from prison. As well, he is the founder and CEO of an app, Flikshop, that enables the imprisoned to receive email. Asked what proposition ought to be subject to more debate, he focused on the fate of criminals.

What I really want for Father’s Day: Stop Solitary for Kids

As Father’s Day approached, and I watched my kids excitedly make plans to celebrate, I couldn’t help but reflect on my juvenile justice reform work. As a former youth corrections administrator, I noticed their excitement is so different than the isolation we know is too often experienced by kids in facilities. 

When a Sibling Goes to Prison

On any given day, 54,000 juvenile offenders are not living with their families because they are instead in one of the 696 youth-detention facilities across the United States. In an average year, 17,800 of them “are just awaiting their turn in court,” according to the Campaign for Youth Justice. But those are just the youth in the juvenile-justice system. 

When it comes to juvenile justice, family involvement is best for kids and communities

Gov. Greg Abbott recently called for significant changes to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, noting the agency faces long-term problems that require legislative action. The current model for state youth lockups is not working, and reports of sexual misconduct and violent behavior by employees at these facilities has filled the news cycle for months.

When Parole Boards Trump the Supreme Court

Almost everyone serving life in prison for crimes they committed as juveniles deserves a shot at going home. That’s the thrust of a series of Supreme Court rulings, the fourth and most recent of which was decided this year. Taken together, the high court’s message in these cases is that children are different than adults when it comes to crime and punishment — less culpable for their actions and more amenable to change. As such, court rulings have determined all but the rarest of juvenile lifers are entitled to “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”

Why are we sentencing juveniles to die in prison? The Supreme Court dropped the ball.

Now that the court's make up is changing, prosecutors must play a larger role in justice. Prosecutors have the authority in their own right to change practice, and reform-minded district attorneys can use their power to ensure decisions like this do not happen again. 

Why Do We Still Imprison Youth?

For those of us who pay close attention to juvenile justice issues, this year kicked off with hopeful news from elected officials across the political spectrum.

In the first week of 2018, Republican governors in New Jersey and Wisconsin announced the closure of four antiquated youth prisons in their states as a move towards a more rehabilitative approach.

Why does Seattle need a new youth jail?

Hear about those local clergy members who chained themselves to a construction site? They were protesting a new youth detention facility.

As you read this, new cinder block walls are rising up right next door to the old facility in Seattle’s Central District. The Children and Family Justice Center, its new name, is expected to be completed in 2020. 

Why John Legend Says We’re Failing Thousands of Young Americans

John Legend has a direct message about teens in prisons: they shouldn't be there and it's time for Americans to stand up for them. He's endorsing a new report by Youth First, an organization that advocates for alternatives to youth prison. It lists steps advocates can take to fight the youth prison system and minimize the damage it does to the young people caught in it.

Why Some Experts Say An Attempt To Reform Juvenile Justice In Tennessee Came Up Short

Gov. Bill Haslam is on the verge of signing a measure called the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, which was supposed to bring about major changes to how Tennessee handles young people who misbehave.

But some who worked on the measure say, after state lawmakers made last-minute changes, it's coming up far short of its promise.

Why the debate about school safety and increased security may exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline

The Feb. 14 killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Fla., has reignited a visceral, decades-old debate over how to keep students safe when a gunman enters a campus to take lives

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 "Raise the Age" Legislation Get Movement in Michigan?

Seventeen-year-olds in Michigan can't vote, can't serve in the military or buy a pack of cigarettes. Yet under current law they can be treated as a criminal. Proposed legislation at the statehouse would raise the age of juvenile-court jurisdiction to 18, which would align Michigan with standard national practice.

Tom Hickson, vice president for advocacy at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said 17-year-olds still are developing and more inclined to risky, impulsive behaviors. 

"They maybe have a mistake they've done, certainly not something to be taken lightly, but we want to throw away their life for good because of some mistake they might have done at age 17," he said. "In most cases, it's more appropriate to treat 17-year-olds and send them to the juvenile system."

Will new state law strain juvenile justice system? Yakima County officials keeping watch

Proponents of a state law that keeps certain violent teenage offenders in juvenile court say it offers the youths a chance at rehabilitation.

But Yakima County prosecutors and juvenile court staff are waiting to see how much strain will be put on a juvenile justice system they say is just getting by.

“I don’t know what the resource drain will be,” said Candi Shute, administrator with the Yakima County Juvenile Court. “It’s hard to predict how many cases will be seen.”

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