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Juvenile Justice News

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.

Fernandez case highlights the long-term implications of incarcerating youthful offenders

It was over in two minutes. No objections. No comments. No updates. Thursday’s court hearing was held to set probation requirements on 19-year-old Cristian Fernandez, who didn’t attend. All the actual decision-making had taken place already, in a 30-minute meeting held behind closed doors, away from the seven reporters and photographers who had staked out the hearing.

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, follow through on reforms to protect kids from adult jails, prisons | Opinion

As a criminal defense lawyer, one of the hardest things I've ever had to do was tell parents that state prosecutors had decided to charge their child as an adult. I cannot imagine the anguish of these parents to learn their child will spend the foreseeable future in chains and an orange jumpsuit, confined in the same building with adult murderers and rapists.

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.

For Father’s Day From the Inside: Dear Dad…

Throughout the last year I’ve been back and forth between being free and being locked up. I know you weren’t there when I was a child, but you made an effort to be there in my later years.

For girls in juvenile hall, ‘trauma-informed’ yoga is a saving grace

The young women sat in a tight circle on purple mats, ready to start their weekly yoga session before lunch. A small centerpiece was set on the gym floor with flameless candles and inspirational stones that read “believe,” “courage” and “blessing.” “You’re in control of your body,” said instructor Rocsana Enriquez as she guided them through a series of classic poses: Cat. Warrior. Tree.

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. 

Get Tough’ Then Another Positive Supreme Court Decision Drops

Does anyone want the rest of their life defined by what they did at 14? I don’t think so, and neither does our Supreme Court.We have come a long way since the first juvenile court in 1899. I have compared our juvenile justice journey to a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, and to the frustrations of piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.

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