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Juvenile Justice News

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. 

How to Reduce Juvenile Crime: Use Separate Courts

As budget-strapped state legislatures seek ways to spend taxpayer dollars more effectively and efficiently, a growing number of states are turning to a solution that, until relatively recently, was assumed to be a budget buster: shifting delinquent youth from adult prisons and courts back to the juvenile-justice system, where they belong.

I was jailed as a child. I know it's possible to reintegrate into society with support

The United States has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that sentences children to life without the possibility of parole.

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.

Immigrant kids can’t be detained without their day in court, 9th Circuit rules

The federal government can’t hold immigrant kids in detention without explaining their reasons in front of an independent judge, a federal appeals court said on Wednesday. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means non-citizen minors detained by authorities will maintain the right to have an immigration judge review the government’s reasons for keeping them in custody – a position the federal government argued against.

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.

In Feds' Juvenile Justice Agency 'Reform' is a Four Letter Word

Don’t look for “reform” in the Trump administration’s Justice Department, at least in the language used by its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 

In many states, black juveniles end up in adult court in high numbers

Warren Germain was 16 years old in 2011 when he was arrested on a burglary charge in Miami-Dade County, Florida. He’d already spent time in a juvenile residential program, so this time the prosecutor decided to try him as an adult.

Incarcerated Youth Not Free Even After Their Release

At our country’s 240th birthday, I am reminded of our forefathers’ preamble to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Incarceration in Youth Linked to Diminished Health Later in Life

In a study published in the Journal Pediatrics, researchers say there's a strong association between juvenile detention and diminished physical and mental health later on in life.

INDIANA: Jailing Princola: A hopeless ending for a mentally ill teenager

The screaming had stopped long before Princola Shields was found hanging lifelessly inside an Indiana Women’s Prison shower. She’d been crying out from her locked bathroom stall for hours, several inmates told IndyStar, begging nearby officers to tell her what she’d done wrong. Only three weeks remained on her prison sentence, but officers moved her into temporary confinement after, inmates said, an argument in the chow hall. Before entering her new cell, however, she was placed in a stall no bigger than a hallway closet. She was left there alone for three hours, inmates said. 

Introducing Fight for Our Girls

Article by the Center for the Study of Social Policy

Through this series, Fight for Our Girls, the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare seeks to radically shift the narrative surrounding girls of color and status offenses from a focus on delinquency and misbehavior to structural discrimination, trauma and youth well-being. Released over the next year, the series of briefs will promote programs, policies and initiatives aimed at developing a trauma-informed approach to addressing status offenses and supporting the ability of girls of color to thrive. 

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