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Juvenile Justice News

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 law hamstrings peace-keeping efforts in juvenile detention center, Cuyahoga County officials say

Teenagers housed in Cuyahoga County's old juvenile detention center decades ago used to be able to sit by a fireplace, learn how to use metal dinner utensils and, as recently as the late 1990s, cut each other's hair with scissors in an in-house barbershop, Judge Kristin Sweeney said.

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.

State to test youth-offender project targeting mental health, recidivism

Arkansas is a test site for a national pilot project aimed at helping children overcome barriers they face after getting out of jail.

State Trends Show Fewer Young People Tried As Adults, New Report Says

The number of young people locked into adult jails and prisons has plummeted nearly two-thirds since 2009 and the number automatically sent to adult courts for criminal trials has fallen by nearly half from 2007 to 2014, a new report says.

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.

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 Finds 'Significant' Increase in State Juvenile Justice Reform

At least 36 states have passed legislation to keep young people out of adult prisons or jails since 2005—and more states are on track to limit youth exposure to the adult justice system over the next two years, according to a study released Wednesday.

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.

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