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Juvenile Justice News

NATIONAL: Why Americans Don't Care About Prison Rape (The Nation)

In June of 2012, the New York Times “Room for Debate” feature considered whether or not convicted youth offenders should be treated differently than adult convicts in the penal system. Those in favor of trying some youth offenders in adult courts included a victims’ advocate, and an attorney from the conservative Heritage Foundation; those against included an inmate at California’s San Quentin prison, and a human rights activist. The victims’ advocate and the attorney from the Heritage Foundation talked about extreme cases of violence and the benefits of stern consequences. The inmate and the human rights activist talked about rape.

Nearly Half Of Juvenile Centers Use Isolation As A Form Of Control

A West Virginia mother whose 16-year-old son was struggling with ADHD wanted to get him services but wasn’t sure what to do. The assistant principal at her son’s school suggested she file an incorrigibility petition — a status offense — against her son, whom we’ll call John, so he would be eligible for those services.

NEBRASKA: OPINION: Solitary confinement changes not enough

For a notoriously red state, Nebraska is joining a blue movement to make our justice system less damaging to youths- at least we’re starting. Legislative bill 845, which passed this winter, said that Juvenile facilities have to file reports on their use of solitary confinement so the state can provide an annual report, but we need to do more to protect our children. This bill comes in response to a report done by the American Civil Liberties Union, “Growing Up, Locked Down.”

NEVADA: One View: Solitary confinement damaging to kids

Article from Reno Gazette Journal

The use of solitary confinement in the U.S. dates back to the early 1820s when prison architects created the “separate system.”

In this system, all cells throughout an institution were designed to hold individual prisoners in solitary confinement. Inmates did not interact with or even see other prisoners. It was thought that inmates would be reformed through forced reflection (with nothing else to occupy them), which in turn would lead to penitence and the desire to be law-abiding.

This approach to achieving public safety and offender reform failed. Offenders suffered serious mental breakdowns and had high rates of recidivism. Criticisms of the inhumanity of the separate system led to its disuse. 

NEW JERSEY: New Jersey Moves to Keep Kids Under 15 From Adult Court (The Marshall Project)

Like many other state legislatures, New Jersey’s is debating a juvenile-justice bill that would raise the age of adult criminal responsibility for some crimes, limit solitary confinement for teenagers, and house more juvenile offenders in facilities focused on rehabilitation, instead of in adult prisons. But unlike legislation in other states, New Jersey’s bill would prevent the cases of teenagers under 15 from being transferred to adult court under any circumstances, even murder. That would make New Jersey unique. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, 22 states allow children of any age to be waived into adult court for serious crimes. Of those states with strict limitations on charging kids as adults, none goes as far as the New Jersey bill.

New Poll Shows Widespread Support for Rehabilitation Over Incarceration

A large majority of Americans say the juvenile justice system must place more emphasis on rehabilitating youthful offenders and focus far less on punishment and prison, according to a survey released today. 

New Study Finds That LGBTQ Youth and Youth With Disabilities Suffer Most Under Solitary Confinement

The story of Kalief Browder, the 22-year-old who committed suicide after spending nearly two years in solitary confinement at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail, is a tragic testament to a life snuffed out by a grinding, unflinching U.S. criminal justice system.

New York religious leaders urge Albany to support legislation that keeps juveniles out of adult prisons

More than 200 members of the clergy from around New York State are writing to urge Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers to raise the age of criminal responsibility so fewer juvenile offenders end up in adult prisons. The religious leaders say they have written to the governor and legislative leaders in support of legislation backed by Cuomo that would send most 16- and 17-year-old offenders to juvenile facilities. New York and North Carolina are the only states that prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

New York State Resolves to Raise the Age for Juvenile Court Proceedings

And then there was one. New York State legislators voted Sunday night to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, capping a contentious budget fight and giving supporters of the measure victory after years of frustration. The vote leaves North Carolina as the only state which still prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, although that may change later this month.

NEW YORK: City report shows racial disparities in health, arrests among youth

Significant racial disparities persist among New York City’s school-age children and young adults in educational outcomes, economic security, health and safety over the past 12 years, according to a new report set to be released by the de Blasio administration on Monday. The “Disparity Report,” created by a branch of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services' office, and originally intended to help inform the work of the Young Men’s Initiative, compares young Asian, black and Hispanic New Yorkers to their white peers in areas like graduating from high school in four years, rates of teen pregnancy, and rates of school suspensions.

New York: Gov. Cuomo Commish: New York State Should Raise the Age to 18 (JJIE)

New York state should raise the age that youths can be tried and convicted as adults to 18, a commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended Monday.

Cuomo, speaking in Albany, said he planned to propose the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice as a legislative package to the State Assembly.

NEW YORK: Governor Cuomo could do something right now (The Marshall Project)

In Miller v. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court, announced a legal principle that social science, neuroscience and common sense had long recognized: juveniles have “diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform” such that “children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing.” Relying on that principle, the court held that imposing a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole on juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, even for the crime of murder. As Dana Goldstein’s heart-wrenching article points out, New York State is one of only two states that automatically charge juveniles in adult criminal court. There is an emerging consensus that this is an unsupportable practice, even though some lawmakers are resisting legislation to change it.

New York: Rikers to Ban Isolation for Inmates 21 and Younger

New York Times

New York City officials agreed on Tuesday to a plan that would eliminate the use of solitary confinement for all inmates 21 and younger, a move that would place the long-troubled Rikers Island complex at the forefront of national jail reform efforts.

Next “Raise the Age” battle will be making sure some felonies remain in law

As legislation to raise the juvenile age of prosecution gains steam, advocates are preparing for their next big hurdle in getting a law on the books.

No Clear Link Between Juvenile Crime Spree, Legal Reforms

A recent spate of serious juvenile crime, including a string of car thefts in which offenders fled police at high speeds and the slaying of an innocent 63-year-old man in Hartford, represent one of the most serious and brazen outbreaks in years.

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