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Juvenile Justice News

States Must Move Funding from Correctional Facilities to Community-Based Treatment

Across the United States, juvenile arrest rates have reached 40-year lows, dropping precipitously over the past 20 years. From its peak in 1996 to the most recent national data available for 2014, the U.S. juvenile arrest rate has fallen by 65 percent overall, and 63 percent for violent felony arrests.

States See Clear Benefits to Keeping Youth Out of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Within the last decade, seven states have passed laws to raise the age on juvenile justice jurisdiction. This move means that 16- and 17-year-olds who were previously destined for adult criminal court are now being served by the juvenile justice system.

States see marked drop in juvenile prison populations as reforms take hold (Washington Post)

A falling crime rate and new reforms to the way juveniles are treated by the criminal justice system have dramatically cut the number of young people in state prisons, according to a new report that highlights the success of some of those reforms. The report, published by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, focuses on Texas, where a series of reforms passed by the legislature beginning in 2007 have helped keep thousands of juvenile offenders closer to home.

States Show Some Progress 2 Years After Kalief Browder’s Death

Today, June 6, 2017, marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating loss of Kalief Browder. Kalief was a 22-year-old whose traumatic and deeply unjust contact with the adult criminal justice system when he was only 16 changed the course of his life forever.

States soften stance on adult prosecution of juvenile offenders

Several states that automatically prosecute accused offenders as adults beginning at age 17 year are considering raising the age to 18. Louisiana and South Carolina are both considering bills to raise the age, the New York Times reports. The proposals are backed by a national “raise the age” movement that stresses neurological differences in young people’s brains and the greater possibility of rehabilitation for youths sent to juvenile facilities.

Stop charging children as adults

People under the age of 18 cannot legally buy a beer in this country, or enlist in the military (without parental consent), vote in an election, buy a handgun or enter into a contract. But in some states, they can be charged with a crime as adults and, if convicted, sent to an adult prison. 

Stop Solitary for Kids

Every day in the United States, some 54,000 young people are incarcerated in the juvenile justice system. Many experience the harsh realities of solitary confinement during their imprisonment, often for minor rule violations. Research and experience reveal the impact of solitary on young people to be devastating, including trauma, psychological damage, depression, anxiety, and increased risk of suicide. Often, youth in solitary do not receive appropriate education, mental health services, or drug treatment. Because adolescents are still developing, solitary confinement can cause permanent harm to their physical, psychological, and social well-being. More than half of all suicides in juvenile facilities occur while young people are held in solitary. Many youth literally go mad in such conditions. 

Study: Juveniles more likely to re-offend if mother doesn't understand legal process

Juvenile first-time offenders whose mothers don't get involved in their legal proceedings are much more likely to commit another crime, according to a new study. The study from Michigan State University looked at the cases of more than 300 male juvenile first-time offenders aged 13 to 17. Since juvenile offenders often don't have a present father in their lives, researchers chose to focus on offenders with female primary guardians.

Study: LGBT Youth are Disproportionately in Jail

A disproportionate number of queer youth, particular lesbians and bisexual girls, end up in jail or prison in the United States, according to a study released today by researchers at UCLA. Worse, those youth are considerably more likely to be raped during their time in custody.

Take Care of Our Youth

According to the Sentencing Project, the United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in prison or jail. Prison overcrowding is a significant problem, and results in youth being assigned to adult prisons and jails to serve their sentences. North Carolina, Connecticut and New York are just some states that are addressing this issue.

TENNESSEE: Criminal justice reform advocates troubled about juvenile court reports

Criminal justice reform advocates responded with concern Thursday following reports that detention at Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County became more dangerous after Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham took over detention operations on July 1.
Reports released Wednesday showed an increase in suicidal behavior, use of force, assaults on youth by each other and staff reporting they fear for their safety.

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Texas, Missouri Debate Next Step on Raise the Age

Brett Merfish had a list of reasons why Texas should raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18. She pointed to research showing that states that had already adopted the practice saw crime and recidivism reduced and better outcomes for the juveniles and their families.

TEXAS: Harris County faces space issues to protect teen inmates

Harris County has had problems complying with a law meant to protect youthful offenders and reduce sexual assaults in jail. The Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/29qPAVn) reported Tuesday that 17-year-olds at the county jail in Houston, when prosecuted as adults, have no place to go while awaiting trial.

TEXAS: The Texas Way on Juvenile Justice (New York Times)

Texas has made huge strides in reforming its once hellish juvenile justice system. Young offenders in state facilities were once subjected to brutality, neglect and sexual abuse. But after revelations of those conditions led to a public outcry in 2007, elected officials moved quickly to make sure that troubled young people were more likely to find the services they needed - and to keep as many young people as possible from entering state facilities in the first place. As important, the state now has the data to prove that it has made progress and to point to where it might make more. 

The 14-Year-Old Who Grew Up in Prison

No crime story fulfills our need for justice without a corresponding punishment. That's how wrongs are righted in our moral imaginations. But if the crime and punishment aren't balanced, we're left waiting for an equilibrium that never comes. This is one of those stories.

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