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Counties Focus on Juvenile Justice Reforms, Federal Role

Monday, 04 March 2013 Posted in Federal Update

 

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This week, members of the National Association of Counties (NACo) were in Washington to talk about crucial issues facing counties, including juvenile justice reforms and federal funding for juvenile justice.  NACo's Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, chaired Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler of Dakota County, Minnesota met on March 2 and heard from Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign (www.act4jj.org) co-chairs Nancy Gannon Hornberger (Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice) and Liz Ryan (President & CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice).
 
In her remarks, Nancy highlighted the importance of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) and how funding has supported effective juvenile justice programs at the county level.  Additionally, she talked about efforts to pass the Youth Promise Act (YPA), legislation authored by Rep. Bobby Scott.  The YPA bill is set to be introduced in the next week and NACo members discussed how they could support this crucial piece of legislation.
 
Liz talked about the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and the importance of federal funding for the JJDPA.  NACo is a member of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign to reauthorize and adequately fund the JJDPA, and Liz encouraged NACo members to take that message to congressional offices as well as invite Members of Congress to visit county juvenile justice programs to see first-hand what is working in juvenile justice.  
 
Bobby Vassar, Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, joined the session to discuss the importance of the Youth Promise Act.  Both Nancy and Liz applauded his work in the House on the YPA and in ensuring adequate funding for juvenile justice programs.  NACo’s Dalen Harris, who organized the session, was also commended for his tremendous efforts to ensure NACo members were being heard on the hill on juvenile justice.
 
At the meeting, NACo approved a position statement on juvenile and criminal justice, including a position on the transfer of youth to adult court, "NACo opposes trying and sentencing youth in adult criminal court, except in the case of a chronic and violent offender, and then only at the discretion of a juvenile court judge."  For the full statement, visit here.
NACo released a position paper "Support Vulnerable Youth: Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act" available online at here.

For a copy of the presentation, visit here.

Kids, Cops, and Confessions Explores Mysterious World of the Interrogation Room

Friday, 01 March 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

 

By Leah Robertson

The growing research on adolescent development, mounting evidence against eye witness testimony, and the exposure of numerous cases of false confessions make Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room by University of Minnesota Professor Barry C.Feld an intriguing and incredibly useful body of research for anyone involved in the juvenile justice system. Feld uses data from Minnesota to delve into the factors surrounding the interrogations of youth to determine some of the factors that impact case outcomes. In particular, he focuses on how Interrogators utilize the same techniques they would adults despite the incredible developmental differences between the two and the strong likelihood that youth will confess to a delinquent act almost immediately.


Feld set about this task because “despite the crucial role of interrogation in criminal and juvenile justice, we know remarkably little about what happens when police question suspects, what the outcomes of interviews are, or how they affect justice administration” (Feld Page 2). This data could not have been collected nearly anywhere else because Minnesota is one of very few areas that record all interrogations. In an interview with the Campaign, Feld expressed his surprise that more states have not followed Minnesota’s lead, and he asserted that he believes all interrogations should be recorded everywhere to eliminate much of the mystery and potential manipulation around interrogation.

This book comes at a particularly momentous time when “Central Park 5,” a documentary about five kids who falsely confessed to a horrific crime after hours of interrogation in New York City, has brought popular attention to the issue. Feld addresses this point in his book, when he says that most kids confess to their crimes rather quickly, especially if a parent or authority figure is present. Interrogations that last hours should be a huge red flag to any judge or jury. Most kids, just like those in the Central Park Jogger case, just want to go home, and after hours of interrogation, they do not have the developmental capacity to understand the implications of their actions.
Additionally, Feld focuses on the differences between youth and adults, particularly when it comes to juvenile crime and interrogation. He notes that youths “risk perception actually declinesduring mid-adolescence and then increases gradually in the early twenties.”(Page 8) This can be seen in his extensive study of Miranda Rights, and the fact that the “vast majority (92.8%) of all the juveniles in this study waived their Mirandarights” (Page 206) despite the fact that “young and mid-adolescents do not possess the competence of adults to exercise Miranda” (Page 8).
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in ways to reform the juvenile justice system, particularly family members and juvenile justice system stakeholders. While reforming and “right-sizing” the juvenile justice system, it is important that we also make sure the contact youth do have with law enforcement is fair and developmentally-appropriate to help our youth and make our communities safer.
For those who wish to learn more, you can purchase this book here. For more publications by Feld, visit the University of Minnesota website

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Baltimore Sun - More cops in schools isn't the solution, By Liz Ryan

Thursday, 28 February 2013 Posted in Voices


Today CFYJ's President & CEO, Liz Ryan wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, "More Cops In Schools Isn't the Solution":

Baltimore Sun

February 28, 2013
More Cops Isn't the Solution: Instead of turning kids into criminals, we need more resources for programs that work

By Liz Ryan

In response to the Newtown tragedy in December, the Obama administration proposed a package of reforms, including a proposal to provide $150 million for local jurisdictions to hire new school resource officers (SROs) or counselors and $4 billion for the Community Oriented Police (COPS) program, which can also be used to hire law enforcement in schools. Members of Congress will be considering these proposals in the appropriations process and have introduced a number of others that would authorize more law enforcement officers in schools.

Visit here for the full article.

Spread the Word- CFYJ is looking for Summer 2013 Fellows!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 Posted in Take Action Now

The Campaign for Youth Justice  is accepting applications for its fellowship program. We accept part-time and full-time interns during the fall and spring semesters (preferring students who can commit to an entire academic year), and full-time interns during the summer (at least an 8 week commitment).


The Summer 2013 Fellowship Application deadline is March 31, 2013.  The following fellowship opportunities are currently available for Summer 2013:


Summer 2013 Fellow in Field and Outreach
Summer 2013 Fellow in National Outreach
Summer 2013 Fellow in Research and Policy
Summer 2013 Fellow in Communications


For additional information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Connecticut and Illinois Release Pivotal Juvenile Justice Reports

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

This week the Justice Policy Institute released a report entitled, “Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Improved Outcomes for Youth,” and the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission released its report entitled, “Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction: The future of 17-year-olds in Illinois’ justice system.” Conclusions from both reports support the notion that raising the age is consistent with legal trends, is consistent with adolescent development and behavior; is an efficient use of juvenile court resources; improves public safety; and decreases long-term costs.

The positive effects of these reforms have far exceeded expectations thereby debunking the myth that placing more 16 and 17 year olds in the juvenile justice system will “crash it” and sacrifice public safety. The impact of reforms in Connecticut and Illinois prove that thoughtful analysis and long term planning can create positive legislative reforms in systems deemed too dysfunctional for repair.

Highlights from each report are as follows:

Connecticut

  • Extending juvenile jurisdiction to 16 year-olds has increased juvenile caseloads far less than expected (22 percent actual vs. 40 percent projected), reducing the state’s expenditures to serve these youth by nearly $12 million below the amount initially budgeted for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.
  • Raise the Age legislation enabled 8,325 16 year-olds to avoid prosecution and punishment in the adult criminal justice system.
  • 16 year-olds served by the juvenile system have had higher success rates in alternative programs and lower rearrest rates than youth 15 and younger, disproving concerns that they should be in the adult system.

Illinois

  • Although it was predicted that adding roughly 18,000 misdemeanor arrests of 17 year olds would overwhelm the system by a 38 percent increase at the arrest stage, arrests are actually down 24 percent in the state.
  • County juvenile detention centers and state juvenile incarceration facilities were not overrun. In fact, one detention center and two state incarceration facilities have been closed and excess capacity is still the state norm.
  • Due to the success of adding 17 year old misdemeanants, adding 17 year olds convicted of felonies is predicted to be manageable.

Connecticut and Illinois are just two examples of state reforms that are happening throughout the nation. States all over the country are considering reforms, including Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Maryland.

With a new Administrator for the federal Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) about to take the helm, there is a major opportunity to accelerate the pace of reforms throughout the country with federal support.

Find links to the reports below:

Jonathan’s Law Unanimously Clears Legislative Hurdle in Missouri

Tuesday, 26 February 2013 Posted in Campaigns

Yesterday the Missouri State Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed, “Jonathan’s Law”, a bill requiring judges to consider giving minors who have been convicted as adults, a juvenile sentence, and requiring an explanation why if they do not.

Jonathan's Law is in remembrance of Jonathan McClard, who committed suicide in an adult facility at the age of 17--fearing he would be sentenced to a long prison term with adults.

Jonathan's mother, Tracy McClard is the founder of Families and Friends Organized to Reform JuvenileJustice (FORJ-MO). McClard has been a champion for the legislation and says its passage could prevent future tragedies like what happened to her son.

“I am very excited by the support for juvenile justice reform we are receiving from Missouri's state capitol,” said McClard. “The fact that Jonathan's Law passed the senate judiciary committee with a unanimous vote speaks to the great desire to bring our children out of the adult system and once again treat our youth as children and not adults.”

Maryland Lawmakers Hear Expert Testimony from Youth, Parents, Advocates on Juvenile Justice Reforms

Friday, 22 February 2013 Posted in Federal Update

Members of the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held hearings in Annapolis this week on juvenile justice reform measures including proposals to remove youth from adult jails and end the automatic prosecution of youth in adult criminal court. Kara Aanenson and Kevin Junior of Community Law in Action (CLIA), and Camilla Roberson of the Public Justice Center (PJC) shared testimony in support of these proposals, along with youth, families, legal experts, community members, and advocates in a packed hearing room.

"This is a failed policy," stated Camilla Roberson in her testimony on legislation to end the automatic prosecution of youth in the adult criminal court. Community member, Eileen Siple of Harford County, Maryland also testified in support of the proposal stating that, "Children should not end up in the adult system until after a judge has decided, based on all the available information, that there is nothing the juvenile system can do for that child."

A young person who'd been court involved, Kevin, shared his experiences in the Baltimore Jail. Kevin, now a youth organizer at CLIA, spent 11 months in the jail awaiting trial and then was transferred back to the juvenile court. He spoke about the differences between the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems and the need to provide opportunities, education and rehabilitation for young people.

While several attorneys and the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services testified against these bills, the bills received overwhelming support from youth and their families, community members, legal experts and advocates. Stacey Gurian-Sherman shared her testimony on these bills along with with hundreds of individuals who'd signed on to support the legislation in a strong show of support.

The next round of hearings on juvenile justice proposals are expected on March 7 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

To get involved in juvenile justice advocacy efforts in Maryland, contact the Just Kids Partnership.

IJJO Interviews- Liz Ryan, CFYJ President & CEO

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 Posted in Voices

The International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) interviews CFYJ President and CEO, Liz Ryan:

Ms. Ryan provides us an analysis of the situation of children rights in the USA together with a description of the main activities and objectives of the Campaign for Youth Justice. In this framework, Liz Ryan underlines that The U.S. should ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaties, as well as, she advocates recommendations to federal, state and local policymakers, such as the development of strategies to stop the flow of youth into the adult criminal system.

Reflections on the Youth Jail Victory - Just Kids Youth Leaders

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 Posted in Voices

The Just Kids Youth Leaders were at the core of the campaign to stop the youth jail in Baltimore City. The victory was made possible by the youth led alliance to create grassroots support, form a legislative strategy, and launch a media campaign against the proposed jail.

In this video, the Just Kids Youth Leaders discuss what they learned from all their hard work to successfully advocate against the construction of the youth jail.

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