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Juvenile Justice News

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 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. 

Read more

Is Deportation of Juvenile Offenders Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Kids and the Constitution may complicate President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, which calls for the deportation of non-citizens charged with a criminal offense. While the order does not specifically address juvenile offenders, it broadly expands the definition of who is considered a deportation priority, likely including many juveniles convicted of crimes in adult courts.

Is it now inevitable that all states will raise the age?

This year, legislators in both New York and North Carolina took great steps towards improving public safety and providing meaningful rehabilitative services to young people across their states.

Is Juvenile Justice Beyond Repair?

The Youth First Initiative wants to help end the use of youth prisons. The justice-advocacy group works from the premise that detaining minors—whether in youth facilities or in prisons—is not just a poorly executed practice; it is simply beyond repair. “This model of incarceration is broken—it does not work,” says Liz Ryan, the president and CEO of the Youth First Initiative. “It actually has never worked.” 

Jail fees pile up for Sonoma County juvenile offenders

The phone rings. Your teenage son has run away and gotten into a fight. Again. He’s back at Sonoma County’s juvenile hall off Highway 12 in rural east Santa Rosa. For the next several months, you attend meetings with his public defender, make his court appointments and visit him twice a week while working full time and shuttling your other children between school and sports.

Jailing Vulnerable Youth for Status Offenses Helps No One

In February, Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) called upon the Senate to pass important juvenile justice reform by reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The JJDPA is the only piece of federal legislation that governs juvenile justice across the country, and provides critical funding and guidance for states.

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