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Juvenile Justice News

Removing Youth from Adult Court: Much to Celebrate, More to Fight For

In its Blueprint for Youth Justice Reform, the Youth Transition Funders Group (YTFG) laid out a ten point plan to reduce youth justice involvement and improve outcomes for youth up to age 25.  Point six in the plan calls for “keeping youth out of adult court, jails and prisons; a policy that is dangerous, ineffective, harmful and costly.” 

Report Says Costs and Juvenile Crime are Down in Some States Trying 17-Year-Olds as Juveniles

Three states that have led a trend toward once again trying 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles have seen falling juvenile crime and stable costs. That’s a major finding of the Justice Policy Institute’s report, “Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System,” according to the organization’s press release. The report, released March 7, looks at the results of “raising the age” in seven states that have done that in the past 10 years: Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Roberta Richman: Life-without-parole for teens is unjust

The Rhode Island Senate took a critical step toward implementing age-appropriate accountability for children in the criminal justice system when it passed S-237 last week. The House should pass this legislation, or its companion bill, H-5183, both of which would provide a parole hearing for everyone sentenced as a youth under 18.

Senator Tom Cotton Wants to Keep Kids in Jail

The Arkansas senator is on track to single-handedly block a bill that would have stopped law enforcement from throwing children in prison for minor offenses. It should get our attention when a lone senator stops a popular piece of bipartisan legislation, blocking passage and opposing the prevailing opinion even in his own party. That’s what Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a rising star in the GOP, has done and in a few weeks he’ll have successfully killed the much needed and long overdue reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The law, which expired in 2007, banned states receiving federal money from jailing juveniles in correctional facilities where they would be in contact with adults convicted of criminal charges. 

Session’s Hardline Stance on Youth Incarceration at Odds with Public’s View

Last week, the new top lawman of the United States promised to forge an era of hardline “law and order” around the country, even as Americans across party lines support very different, less punitive approaches to questions of justice and young people, according to a new study.

Several States Look to Keep Teenagers Out of Criminal Court

This year, several states have passed or are considering reforms that aim to reduce the number of teenagers charged in adult criminal court. Some of the most aggressive changes focus on limiting prosecutors’ authority to charge juveniles in adult court without a judicial hearing — a process known as direct file. 

Should ZIP Codes determine juvenile arrest records? Florida Senate doesn’t think so

When a juvenile gets caught shoplifting or trespassing or smoking marijuana in Florida, what happens next depends on their ZIP Code. In some parts of the state, the child is automatically put into a program that diverts first-time offenders from arrest so they can avoid a criminal record that could follow them the rest of their lives. In other areas, however, they face arrest — and a record.

Solitary Confinement Is What Destroyed My Son, Grieving Mom Says

This week, an unusual coalition of corrections officers and policy experts will come together in Washington, D.C., with one common goal in mind — to limit the use of solitary confinement for juveniles. The campaign has enlisted some powerful voices to warn about the harms of isolation for young people. Venida Browder lost her son twice: first to the lock-up at Rikers Island in New York, and then to suicide.

Some States Still Send Teens to Adult Prison

In most states, 18 is the age when you are seen as an adult in the eyes of the law, for better or for worse. Sometimes it’s good, like when you want to get a tattoo and not have your parents sign for it. But breaking the law means you could be arrested and summoned to appear in criminal court, where your newly minted adulthood might mean a harsher punishment. Yet in a handful of states you’re considered an adult in the justice system even before you turn 18.

South Carolina Close to Raising Age for Juvenile Offenders to 17

South Carolina is poised to join the majority of states that keep teenagers in the juvenile justice system until their 18th birthday. Senate lawmakers approved “raise the age” legislation (SB 916) late Tuesday that would increase the upper age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 17 for most young offenders. All but nine states already consider teenagers juveniles until they turn 18. 


SOUTH CAROLINA: SC Juvenile Justice Agency Was Warned Against Post-Riot Transfers

The scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) and its director, Sylvia Murray, were explicitly warned against transferring juvenile inmates to adult prisons in the aftermath of a dramatic escalation of violence at SCDJJ facilities.They didn’t listen…The outbursts of violence – which included a late February riot reported on exclusively by this website – have prompted multiple legislative investigations (and a sadly predictable response from governor Nikki Haley, whose administration oversees SCDJJ).

South Dakota: Governor backs bill for fewer juveniles in lockup (Argus Leader)

Gov. Dennis Daugaard is backing a bill to overhaul the state's juvenile corrections system. The bill, which also has the support of state Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson, would force a focus on diversion programs as a way to keep youth out of expensive placements with the Department of Corrections.

Stand up against failed policies: The youth prison

We often hear of the exceptional nature of the justice system in the United States. Indeed, our Constitution is meant to ensure that the rule of law holds sway above all else. As such, we are committed to treating our people fairly – without consideration of their age, gender, race, or religion. While our founding document has not always protected the most vulnerable among us, it has – over time – come to be the safeguard against the worst forms of abuse by government. 

State Senators Call for Major Reform of Juvenile Justice System

A package of legislation introduced Monday by a pair of California state senators could do away with incarceration for children under 12 years old and ban life sentences without parole for anyone under 18.

States May Face Stricter Standards to Prove They Are Protecting Kids in Custody

States soon may face stricter rules in order to demonstrate they are protecting juveniles in custody. Federal officials have proposed new compliance standards for states to show they keep juveniles out of adult facilities; ensure that when juveniles must be in such facilities, they are separated from adult inmates; and do not lock up status offenders.

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