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Juvenile Justice News

Ringing the Bell on Kids Charged as Adults

ohnnie McDaniels, executive director of Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center, often repeats a Frederick Douglass quote.
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men," Douglas wrote in 1855.

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.

School-to-Prison Pipeline Can Be Dismantled Using Alternative Discipline Strategies

 The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the streamlining of at-risk students from schools to incarceration or related correctional-type facilities that results from punitive discipline practices and criminalizing misconduct in schools.

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 children who commit a crime be given a second chance or die in prison?

Justice in the American system often means banishment through incarceration, parole, probation, or the sex offender registry. Millions are condemned, never to return to our communities, or never to return whole. And for those who do return, we make sure the mark of their worst mistake follows - most just a Google search or background check away from never hearing back from a prospective landlord or employer.

Those who commit crimes as children are not immune from this monstrous system of state control. And like the rest of our criminal justice system, children of color bear the brunt of extreme sentences, despite the fact that black and white children commit most offenses at similar rates.

But the tide is turning. Slowly.

Should Philly keep holding kids in its adult jails?

David Harrington spent time in both adult and juvenile detention centers when he was 17.

Should Philly keep holding kids in its adult jails?

David Harrington was 17 when he was charged as an adult and held in the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, a city jail. Then, after eight months — basically his entire sophomore year of high school — a judge sent his case to the juvenile justice system. Legally, he was a kid again.

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.

Sixteen-year-old with autism gets three years’ probation

 Because of a year’s difference in their ages, two teens were treated differently after lodging false bomb threats at their school.

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 experts say young offenders need discipline, not detention

North Carolina schools, which now refer more than 40 percent of all offenders in the state’s juvenile justice system, need to stop arresting and charging kids for minor, nonviolent offenses, state court and public safety leaders say.

Harsh, aimless punishment only pushes delinquent students further into patterns leading to adult crime, said Judge Julius Corpening, chief judge for North Carolina’s 5th Judicial District. A judge for 27 years, Corpening has seen many kids with troubled home lives and mental health issues — most of whom need discipline, not detention, he said.

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. 

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