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Juvenile Justice News

Commentary: Our Work to Reform the Juvenile Justice System Is Not Yet Complete

Dakota County, Minnesota, prosecutor James Backstrom, in his July 28 opinion piece, “America’s Juvenile Justice System is Appropriately Balanced,” affirmed many of the strongest arguments for ongoing juvenile justice reform. He recognized that “youth are fundamentally different from adults” and acknowledged that “[w]e now know that the human brain is not fully developed until the early twenties.”

Congressman Rally Behind Juvenile Justice Reform

In something of a departure for Capitol Hill these days, advocates of juvenile-justice reform faced little opposition Wednesday in pushing members of a House subcommittee to revive a bill that never made it out of the Senate last year.

CONNECTICUT: A second chance for CT youths who break the law? (CTM)

After running away from home again, Adam was arrested and jailed for stealing food and magazines from a Hartford bodega. Thirty days later, he was still incarcerated as lawyers and a juvenile court judge tried to figure out what to do with the 17-year-old, who also was struggling with drugs and a mother who wasn’t showing up for his court dates. “Do we want him in custody?” Beth Crawford, an attorney for the state’s child welfare agency, asked the adolescent’s social worker minutes before a juvenile court judge would consider committing him to the Department of Children and Families. The answer to this question, while specific to each case, is one that judges, attorneys and lawmakers in Connecticut generally seem to have reached a consensus on.

CONNECTICUT: Malloy To Try Again To Raise The Age

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, less than three weeks away from the start of the 2017 General Assembly session, made it clear Thursday that he will once again be pushing hard to pass legislation allowing 18-to 20-year-olds to be tried as juveniles. Malloy made that known in a pitch he gave to the Juvenile Justice Policy & Oversight Committee (JJPOC) Thursday at the Legislative Office Building.

Criminal justice reform: the facts about federal drug offenders

A fissure among Senate Republicans threatens federal criminal justice reform, one of the few statutory overhauls that could pass Congress in President Obama’s final year. The Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act (S. 2123), which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall by the comfortable margin of 15-5, has earned support from a bi-partisan group of Senators, the White House, and political advocacy organizations ranging from Koch Industries to the American Civil Liberties Union. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has described the bill as a “truly landmark piece of legislation,” that addresses “legitimate over-incarceration concerns while targeting violent criminals and masterminds in the drug trade.” 

Directly Impacted Youth Are Leading Fights Against Racism and the Criminal Punishment System

There's a growing movement to change the criminal punishment system in this country, and it's being led by men and women who've lived it. As the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls puts it: "Nothing about us without us."

Editorial: Adult criminal charges no way to rehabilitate youth

When Illinois effectively banned punitive solitary confinement at juvenile detention centers, we eagerly bid adieu to such cruel and unusual punishment.

Extend Juvenile Courts Jurisdiction

I spend my Wednesday afternoons at State Correctional Institution-Graterford, a maximum-security prison about an hour away from Temple by car. Here, 10 inmates and the 10 students in my Death and Dying class join together in an Inside-Out course designed to foster transformative learning experiences between people who are incarcerated and those who are not.

Faith, father took UCF grad from prison to law school

Graduating college with top honors is something that Angel Sanchez never imagined as he sat in his jail cell years ago. “In the 'hood, you don’t get a high GPA and you don’t graduate from a university," Sanchez said. "You graduate from the juvenile detention center and go to adult jails." 

Federal leadership joins states in seeking needed updates to juvenile justice

Last month, with the support of Speaker Paul Ryan and legislators on both sides of the aisle, the House passed a bill to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). First passed in 1974 and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the act provides for the operation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and federal support to state and local efforts to strengthen juvenile justice service.

Fewer Youths Incarcerated, But Gap Between Blacks And Whites Worsens

Recent numbers released by the Justice Department show a drop in overall youth incarceration rates in the United States. But a closer look at the data shows a widening gap between black and white youth confinement. 

Fifty Years Later, In re Gault Continues to Inspire

No United States Supreme Court decision has meant more to me during my life as a lawyer than In re Gault. Gault has been a constant companion of mine for almost thirty-five years. Not only did it inspire me in law school to become a juvenile defender, but it still inspires me today, informing my scholarship and casework on false confessions, including the case of Brendan Dassey, the 16-year-old boy whose confession to a murder and rape was featured in NETFLIX’s Making a Murderer. In May, Gault will turn 50. It’s time for me to repay the debt I owe to Gault. This essay is a down payment on that debt.

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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