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Juvenile Justice News

LOUISIANA: Study: Orleans Parish DA prosecutes 80 percent of juvenile offenders as adults

Article in WDSU 6 News

For teens who get in trouble with the law in Orleans Parish and are accused of violent offenses, there is about an 80 percent chance they will be charged as an adult.

The findings are from a Southern Poverty Law Center study on how juveniles are prosecuted in New Orleans. For 15 to 16 year olds the District Attorney has the sole discretion to transfer that case to adult court.

"More than 83 percent of juvenile cases are transferred to adult court. That's out of step with other parishes in Louisiana, said Meredith Angelson with the Southern Poverty Center. That's compared to 22 percent in neighboring Jefferson Parish, and 5-7 cases a year in Baton Rouge.

The advocacy group believes trying juveniles as adults causes more harm than good. They are appealing to District Attorney, Leon Cannizzaro,  to consider special circumstances.

LOUISIANA: Too young to take custody of his son, but old enough to be tried as an adult?

Buying a lottery ticket.  Voting.  Serving on a jury.  Joining the military. To do any of those things you have to be at least 18.  In Louisiana, though, you automatically enter the adult justice system at 17 — even for minor offenses. That needs to change.The illogic behind this policy hits close to home for me. I am a high school senior of 17 with a one-year-old son who is my pride and joy.  When he was born, I was not able to sign his birth certificate. Too young, I was told. When my son’s mother ran into some legal problems and couldn’t care for him, the judge told me that I was ineligible to file for custody because I was not an “adult”.

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MARYLAND: Efforts to reconsider life sentences for juveniles gain momentum in Maryland

On a January day in 2005, Matthew McCullough stood at the defense table in a crowded Towson courtroom. The 18-year-old was facing a judge for his role in a shooting outside Randallstown High School — an act of violence that left the suburbs shaken and another teen paralyzed. William "Tipper" Thomas III, also 18, watched from his wheelchair, where doctors had told him he would remain for the rest of his life. The sentence: one hundred years. 

Maryland: Report - Provide Treatment, Not More Juvenile Prisons

Juvenile Justice Exchange

Maryland should invest in community-based treatment for juvenile delinquents instead of spending $225 million to build three juvenile prisons and replace buildings at a fourth, a state juvenile justice advisory panel urged. The Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit, part of the state Office of the Attorney General, made its recommendations in a 51-page report. "We should be contracting with folks offering evidence-based treatments in the community in the same way as if one of our children got in trouble," said Nick Moroney, the unit's director. 

Md. lawmakers consider housing for youth charged as adults (Maryland)

After 10 years as chief of the St. Mary’s County Detention Center, Capt. Michael Merican is in a situation he says isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible. Merican pays close attention to the needs and well-being of 200 inmates, but one causes him constant worry: a terrified 17-year-old boy. “I have him in a medical holding cell all by himself because he’s too frightened to even put him in protective custody unit with other adults,” Merican said of the teen, who arrived at the facility Jan. 6 after being charged as an adult with assault and kidnapping. “He can’t watch TV or play board games. I put him out to recreation all by himself. He’s scared to death.”

Mental health: Gaps remain in juvenile mental health care (Las Cruces Sun-News)

Nationally, between 60 to 70 percent of kids in the juvenile justice system have a mental health disorder and roughly 90 percent have experienced at least one traumatic event," said Terri Williams, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections in a news statement from July 28, 2014. This falls closely in line with what child psychiatrist George Davis said recently in a phone interview. Davis, the director of CYFD juvenile justice services based in Albuquerque, has vast experience in the adolescent juvenile justice population and said that he believes 90 percent have been "severely compromised and are victims of neglect and abuse.

MISSOURI: Proposed law to raise age of ‘juveniles’ in court

Missouri should join 40 other states and raise the age for juveniles being handled by adult courts, as proposed in a Senate bill.“Currently, Missouri charges all 17 year-olds as adults, no matter what the offense — misdemeanor or felony,” sponsor Wayne Wallingford told the Senate’s Judiciary committee this week. “This bill changes the definition of ‘child’ to include all children under 18 years of age. 

Missouri: State Taskforce Working to Curb Child Incarceration

The St. Louis American

Missouri is one of only seven states that still has 17 as the default age of adult prosecution. Several juvenile rights advocates are trying to raise the age to 18, as well as make it harder to let children as young as 12 face criminal charges as adults and face being put into adult prisons. The bipartisan Missouri Juvenile Justice Taskforce heard testimonies in Jefferson City on Wednesday and are expected to recommend legislation to be introduced this term. Children go through a "transfer hearing" before they are tried in court as adults and put into adult prisons. But Missouri's transfer process has several flaws that allow for children to get stuck in adult jails unnecessarily, sometimes for several months, said Mae Quinn, Washington University law professor and director of the Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic. 

More States Consider Raising the Age for Juvenile Crime

If  you’re a teenager, whether you’re an adult in the eyes of the law depends on the state you live in. Slowly, that’s starting to change. Today, most states, including Washington, D.C., treat adolescents as juveniles through the age of 17. Nine states still have a lower bar, at age 16, apart from New York and North Carolina, where the age is 15. 

Mother’s Day: Bittersweet for Families in the Justice System

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me—as it is for the thousands of other mothers around the country who have lost sons and daughters to our nation’s merciless criminal justice system. On Sunday, I will gather with my children and grandchildren for a late breakfast. They will give me flowers and, from the littlest, hand-drawn cards. And I will remember Jonathan, my youngest, taken from me by the state when he was just 16 years old. 

N.C. Commission proposes 16-year-olds be tried as juveniles

Ninety-six percent of the crimes 16- and 17-year-olds commit in North Carolina are non-violent. Eighty percent of those crimes are misdemeanors. Yet 100 percent of these teenagers are tried as adults. In most states, the age of criminal adulthood is 18. Five states mandate 17-year-olds be tried as adults, but North Carolina and New York require kids as young as 16 to be automatically tried in adult court.

NATIONAL: American Horror Story: Children Are Being Housed In Adult Prisons Across The Country. It Has To Stop (Huffington Post)

Reading Dana Liebelson's investigation into the treatment of children in America's adult prisons, one entirely irrational thought occurs over and over: Somebody needs to send in a SEAL team that can land on the prison roof, shimmy inside and rescue these kids before any more harm is done to them. 

Of course, the kids aren't being held by a hostile foreign government or a rogue terrorist group, but, in this particular case, by the state of Michigan. The sense of urgency, however, is real, driven by the kinds of stories Liebelson uncovers: a boy who says he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by grown men he's forced to bunk with; a girl manhandled in a cell extraction captured on video; a lack of any focus on educational or rehabilitative services; the casual use of solitary confinement; kids attempting suicide in the most horrific ways. And for what?

NATIONAL: Black Students In The U.S. Get Criminalized While White Students Get Treatment (HuffPost Black Voices)

When black and white kids act up or display troubling behavior at schools, teachers and administrators often address it with differing responses split along racial lines, new research shows. 
 
Black students are more likely to be punished with suspensions, expulsions or referrals to law enforcement, a phenomenon that helps funnel kids into the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, white kids are more likely to be pushed into special education services or receive medical and psychological treatment for their perceived misbehaviors, according to a study released last week in the journal Sociology of Education.
 
Overall, this pattern often leads to the criminalization of young black students and the medicalization of white students. 

NATIONAL: Cause Unites the Left and the Right: Justice Reform (New York Times)

Usually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries and the Center for American Progress have found at least one thing they can agree on: The nation's criminal justice system is broken. Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the center, a Washington-based liberal issues group, are coming together to back a new organization called the Coalition for Public Safety

NATIONAL: Girls in Justice (Huffington Post )

I'm grateful for a powerful new book, Girls in Justice by artist Richard Ross, a follow-up to his moving earlier Juvenile in Justice, which combines Ross' photographs of girls in the juvenile justice system with interviews he gathered from over 250 detention facilities across the United States. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the deeply disturbing photographs speak volumes.  
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