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Juvenile Justice News

Alabama must stop locking up children with adults

Alabama lawmakers have taken much-needed, though modest, steps to safely reduce the state's prison population in recent years. But there's an important area of criminal justice reform that hasn't received the attention that it should: our state prosecutes hundreds of children in the adult system every year.

Alabama police shot a teen dead, but his friend got 30 years for the murder

Unlike in the vast majority of fatal shootings by police officers, someone is going to prison for the 2015 death of 16-year-old A’Donte Washington in Alabama. It just isn’t the police officer who shot him.

Lakeith Smith was sentenced last week to 30 years for A’Donte’s murder, even though no one disputes it was an officer’s bullet that killed him. Smith is not even accused of having possessed a weapon. Under the state’s accomplice law, co-defendants can be guilty of murder if a death occurs when they are in the midst of committing a felony.

ALABAMA: Athens City Schools to offer more opportunities for incarcerated youth

Incarcerated youth across the state will soon be able to continue their education and even earn their high school diploma through Athens City Schools. "There are hundreds of students in county jails either sentencing or waiting to be moved to another facility; they are not receiving any educational services," says Athens City School spokesperson Chris Hamilton.

ALABAMA: Legislation would require judge's OK before teens tried as adults

Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, has pre-filed legislation that would change Section 12-15-204 of the Alabama Code so those 16 and over charged with capital offenses, class A felonies and other violatant and crimes aren’t automatically placed in the adult system. Instead, a judge would have to decide if the teen is tried as adult.

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An Immigrant’s Story: I Deserve a Second Chance, Too

Although there is a large and vast discussion throughout the United States around immigration, a subset of the immigrant population has been virtually ignored: the juvenile offender who is tried as an adult and faces deportation for those criminal convictions, often times many years later, after his or her release from the prison system.

Andrew Cuomo, Van Jones: Reform Needed for Justice System That’s Failing Most Vulnerable

Our nation’s prison system faces a systemic, fundamental problem that must be addressed. Over the past 40 years, the prison population in the United States has increased 500%, with 2.2 million people currently incarcerated. Together, we have the responsibility and opportunity to reverse that trend and reform a criminal justice system that has grown too big and too unfair, especially to our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable: 16- and 17-year-olds who are ensnared in the adult criminal justice system.

Anger Management and the Code of the Street

The room was stuffy and hot, the scent of stale snack foods hung in the air and the boys in the anger management group in this locked facility were distracted. As a young clinician and group facilitator, I was frustrated.


Just over two years ago I was gloriously naive. Before the police knocked on my door the morning of May 31st, 2014, there was a lot I didn’t know. I didn’t know my daughter had a serious mental illness. Morgan had always been a quirky child. Extremely intelligent and intensely creative, people often said that she “marched to the beat of her own drum.” Although (in retrospect) there were a few red flags over the years, we were continuously reassured by her doctors and educators that Morgan was well “within the range of normal.” 

AP Investigation: A patchwork of justice for juvenile lifers

Courtroom 801 is nearly empty when guards bring in Bobby Hines, hands cuffed in front of navy prison scrubs. It’s been more than 27 years since Hines stood before a judge in this building. He was 15 then, just out of eighth grade, answering for his role in the murder of a man over a friend’s drug debt. 

Appeal in boy's burp arrest case relies on Gorsuch dissent

One of Neil Gorsuch’s sharpest dissents as an appeals court judge came just six months before he was nominated for the Supreme Court.

Arizona Passes Bill to Shield More Juveniles from Transfer to Adult Court

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill that would enable the state’s juvenile justice system to hold older youths until age 19, a move that advocates hope will lower the number of teens transferred into adult court.

ARIZONA: In Maricopa County, Juveniles Are Often Held In Adult Jail

When Dallas Wyatt was just 16-years-old, he was charged with a serious crime: a drive by shooting. Police took him out of school and put him in jail. "As a young person, I thought coming to jail would just be sitting around for a few months and they’d let me go," Wyatt said. "I’ve been sitting around for a couple years now and that’s not the case.” 

Arkansas Works to Overhaul Juvenile Justice System

Judges and youth advocates say Arkansas' patchwork juvenile probation system needs an overhaul to treat children in the system more fairly.

Arkansas: Advocates Urge Lawmakers For Juvenile Justice Reform

UALR Public Radio California

Legislators heard from advocates and officials hoping to reform the state's judicial justice system on Wednesday. Panelists told lawmakers Arkansas is institutionalizing too many young people for minor offenses and the costs are high. Madelyn Keith is with the Arkansas Youth Services Association. She wants more intervention to happen at the community level. "It's been proven over the years that when the state provides resources for services identified as needed by community stakeholders and these are implemented, then the commitments to the Division of Youth Services do decrease," she said.

ARKANSAS: Skipping no crime

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., alone stands in the way of an opportunity for our country to stop the socially and financially costly practice of incarcerating children for skipping school and running away from home. These behaviors, known as status offenses, are petitioned as a Family in Need of Services case in Arkansas and are illegal only because the youth has not yet reached 18. 

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