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Juvenile Justice News

FLORIDA: Direct-file system doesn't help children - or improve public safety

Article in The Florida Times Union

The strange mechanism that allows Florida’s prosecutors sole authority over whether to charge those under 18 as adults is a cold abuse of power by the state. Known as “direct-file,” this quirk in Florida law stipulates that prosecutors can send juveniles directly to adult court with little oversight or outside input. Many other states require a hearing of the facts in front of a judge before a child can be transferred as an adult. Part of the hearing focuses squarely on experts testifying whether a child can be rehabilitated. 

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FLORIDA: Juvenile crime down in Florida - arrests hit 40-year low

Governor Rick Scott announced that the number of juvenile arrests continued to decline in 2015-2016 according to the latest delinquency report released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). 

FLORIDA: Sending juvenile cases to adult court draws disagreement at Jacksonville juvenile justice forum

It’s a perennial juvenile justice issue in Jacksonville, and Tuesday night disagreements over sending kids to adult court was the highlight of a forum at Jacksonville University.
“904-Data: Delinquent Acts, Community Answers,” presented by the Jacksonville Center for Children’s Rights and the JU Public Policy Institute, brought together representatives of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Teen Court, the Public Defender’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office to talk through local justice trends.

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FLORIDA: Sgt. Paul Pardue: Initiative has reduced juvenile arrests

The Racial and Ethnic Disparities Initiative of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office is not only working, it is changing the lives of our citizens.The R.E.D. initiative started back in 2012 long before it had a name. The School Resource Bureau changed its policies when our on-campus arrest numbers reached the hundreds and were way out of control. We stopped arresting for probation violations and petty misdemeanor crimes and started doing what we were supposed to do - educate our children.

From Jail To Yale: Ex-Offender Graduates With Law Degree 10 Years After Release

Reginald Dwayne Betts refuses to let his time in prison define his life. But he admits that he can't escape it. Even with an Ivy League education. Days before he received his degree from Yale Law School on May 23, the Maryland native was splitting time between writing his final research paper and helping a longtime friend write letters to his parole officer. 

FUSION’s Investigative Team Nominated for News & Documentary Emmy Award for “Prison Kids” Documentary

It was announced today that FUSION was recognized with a News and Documentary Emmy Award nomination for “Prison Kids: A Crime Against America’s Children.” The feature documentary, produced by FUSION’s award-winning investigative team, was nominated in the “Outstanding Informational Programming: Long Form” category.  

GEORGIA: What It Means for Black Youth as South Carolina Plans to Raise the Age of Juvenile Offenders from 17 to 18

South Carolina will join the ranks of other states who keep teenagers in the juvenile justice system until age 18. According to Think Progress, the South Carolina state legislature voted unanimously Tuesday to raise the age at which minors can be tried as adults from 17 to 18. The “Raise the Age” bill shot through the state Senate on a vote of 37-0, after the House voted 102-0 earlier this month, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange reports. The legislation will now land on the desk of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley for her approval. If signed, the legislation will take effect in 2019, the news site reports. 

Harnessing data and information can lead to a better youth justice system

A bipartisan consensus has emerged in Congress and state legislatures on the need to focus on finding ways to reduce the over 2 million people in our prisons and jails and make our communities safer. With 18 to 24-year-olds making up roughly one in five people incarcerated in America’s prison and jails — about half of whom are people of color — reducing the number of these young adults locked up is a necessary step towards enhancing public safety.

House Judiciary Committee Reauthorizes Federal Juvenile Justice Block Grants

House lawmakers say the reauthorization of a major grant program could encourage more federal funding for juvenile justice programs. The House Judiciary Committee approved today by voice vote legislation (HR 68)to reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program, which lapsed in 2009 and has received no funding since 2013. 

House, Senate Take Different Paths on Proposed Juvenile Justice Funding

Reformers are dismayed by a proposed House spending bill that would eliminate funding for several major juvenile justice programs next year. The House bill is in sharp contrast to corresponding Senate legislation, which would increase juvenile justice spending slightly compared with current levels. 


How an Innocent Teenager Confessed to Murder

Davontae Sanford was released Wednesday from prison after serving nine years for a murder to which he confessed, but the state now doubts he committed. Sanford is 23, but was 14 when he said he’d killed four people inside a Detroit home. He is blind in one eye because someone had thrown an egg at him when he was nine. As a teenager, he was enrolled in special-education classes. He lived in a rough part of Detroit and tried to fit in by claiming to be part of a gang, or bragging about fights he’d never had. Sanford was an unlikely suspect. So it made more sense when another man, a Detroit contract killer named Vincent Smothers, confessed to the crime in 2008. 


IDAHO: Idaho prison officials look for place to put teen killer

An Idaho teen has been sentenced to spend the next 20 years in an adult prison, forcing correction officials to look across the country to find a safe place for the 16-year-old to do his time. Eldon Samuel III was just 14 when he shot to death his drug-addicted father and then shot, stabbed and hacked to death his autistic younger brother in their northern Idaho home.

ILLINOIS: Legislature OKs bill to keep more juvenile offenders out of adult court (Chicago Tribune)

Illinois' latest effort toward criminal justice reform has been heralded as a return to the state's roots as a pioneer in the treatment of juvenile offenders. State lawmakers on Sunday passed a bill that would reduce the number of juveniles automatically transferred to adult court. At issue was not whether juveniles can be tried as adults. Rather, it's whether a juvenile defendant should be allowed a hearing in front of a juvenile court judge who would consider factors such as background, mental capacity and culpability before deciding whether to send the youth to adult court.

ILLINOIS: President Preckwinkle applauds signing of Juvenile Justice Bill

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today hailed action by the governor in signing into law juvenile justice reform legislation she championed this year. HB 6291 sponsored by state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, which will take effect January 1, 2017, will reduce or eliminate mandatory five-year probation sentences for juveniles and reduce commitments to juvenile prison for drug crimes. Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, was Senate sponsor of the bill.

Imprisoned as Teens, Speaking Out as Free Men for Change in Juvenile System- Social Justice Solutions

Incarceration can be difficult for mature adults, but it can be irreversibly traumatic for adolescents. Two men who entered the Washington criminal justice system as boys, now free, promote rehabilitating youth through physical and educational programs, rather than incarceration in prison-like facilities.

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