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Juvenile Justice News

Jailing Vulnerable Youth for Status Offenses Helps No One

In February, Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) called upon the Senate to pass important juvenile justice reform by reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The JJDPA is the only piece of federal legislation that governs juvenile justice across the country, and provides critical funding and guidance for states.

Juvenile justice summit: ‘We are addicted to incarceration’

James Bell, who works nationally to address racial disparities in juvenile justice, described incarceration as an addiction Thursday to an audience of more than 200 people in Hickory Hill. "We are addicted to incarceration as a primary instrument of social control," Bell said. "Not just for law violators but for misbehaviors in school." 

Lee High School class gains national recognition for efforts in youth advocacy

A group of young men at Lee High School is gaining national recognition for its advocacy around youth and juvenile justice issues. The class, which calls itself The Evac Movement, learned Tuesday it was the winner of the Campaign for Youth Justice’s social media campaign asking what change they want to see in youth justice. 

Legalized Torture: A Solitary Confinement Experience

As a young African-American, it is not anomalous to hear your professor or guest speaker tell you that more likely than not, you are going to end up imprisoned and disenfranchised at some point in your life — if not for the rest of your life. This is a future I would not wish upon anyone. Unfortunately, the educators are not misinformed. And of those persons imprisoned, between 80,000 and 100,000 U.S. inmates were placed in some form of solitary confinement in 2014.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Teenage brains not mature

Regarding your May 16 article, “DA: Prison for youth depends on the crime, 17 is ‘reasonable age.’” Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson is erroneous in her presumptions that teenagers have the same decision-making process as adults, and therefore should be treated as such.

Let’s Celebrate Our Success and Work Toward Much Needed Progress

Our success has been unquestionable. There has been a steep decline in youth incarceration in America and there has even been some progress moving juvenile justice systems away from being punitive and deficit-based and toward positive youth development. Much credit is due to youth justice reform advocates.

Locked Up for the Holidays

The “most wonderful time of the year” may be the hardest for tens of thousands of young people locked up for the holidays. But many states try — within the confines of security rules, budgets and protocols — to make the season a little brighter for youthful offenders, who often are housed far from home. 

Locked Up: What Is A Youth Prison?

For a young person who experiences life behind the walls of a youth prison, it can mean many things. We’re using the mnemonic, “locked up” to show some of these key characteristics of a youth prison. This article is the first in a series, Locked Up: What is a Youth Prison? One of those traits is that a youth prison is large. 

Louisiana Juvenile Defendant Age May Be Raised to 17

At 17, Devin Harris is not old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. But when he was accused of trying to use someone else’s credit card to buy cigarettes, he swiftly realized that — at least when it comes to the criminal justice system — the state of Louisiana considers him to be an adult. “The last thing I wanted was to be in the system,” said Mr. Harris, who was in jail for nine nights in April because his mother could not afford the bond before he entered a pretrial diversion program. For the teenager, those were long nights. “I called my dad — I ain’t talked to my dad in almost two years,” he said. “I just needed somebody to talk to.”

LOUISIANA: New Orleans, Lafayette teenagers to lobby legislators about raising age for adulthood in criminal justice system

Earlier this year, Jasmine Jeff went to the animal shelter feeling like a responsible teenager — and walked away feeling like a child. Her father had told her she could adopt a dog. So Jeff, who was then 17, walked into the shelter, looked in the first window and fell in love with a terrier, small in size but with outsized charm, she said. But she was then told she was not eligible to adopt it because she was not yet 18.

LOUISIANA: Raise The Age bill to charge 17-year-olds as juveniles passes Louisiana House

Louisiana is about to raise the age of what is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. To date, Louisiana is one of nine states where 17-year-olds who commit minor offenses are treated as adults. Senate Bill 324 on Thursday won easy approval in the Louisiana House and already has been approved by the state Senate. The measure passed the House by a vote of 97-3 with 21 co-authors. But a minor change in wording means the legislation must return to the Senate for final passage. 

LOUISIANA: Study: Orleans Parish DA prosecutes 80 percent of juvenile offenders as adults

Article in WDSU 6 News

For teens who get in trouble with the law in Orleans Parish and are accused of violent offenses, there is about an 80 percent chance they will be charged as an adult.

The findings are from a Southern Poverty Law Center study on how juveniles are prosecuted in New Orleans. For 15 to 16 year olds the District Attorney has the sole discretion to transfer that case to adult court.

"More than 83 percent of juvenile cases are transferred to adult court. That's out of step with other parishes in Louisiana, said Meredith Angelson with the Southern Poverty Center. That's compared to 22 percent in neighboring Jefferson Parish, and 5-7 cases a year in Baton Rouge.

The advocacy group believes trying juveniles as adults causes more harm than good. They are appealing to District Attorney, Leon Cannizzaro,  to consider special circumstances.

LOUISIANA: Too young to take custody of his son, but old enough to be tried as an adult?

Buying a lottery ticket.  Voting.  Serving on a jury.  Joining the military. To do any of those things you have to be at least 18.  In Louisiana, though, you automatically enter the adult justice system at 17 — even for minor offenses. That needs to change.The illogic behind this policy hits close to home for me. I am a high school senior of 17 with a one-year-old son who is my pride and joy.  When he was born, I was not able to sign his birth certificate. Too young, I was told. When my son’s mother ran into some legal problems and couldn’t care for him, the judge told me that I was ineligible to file for custody because I was not an “adult”.

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MARYLAND: Efforts to reconsider life sentences for juveniles gain momentum in Maryland

On a January day in 2005, Matthew McCullough stood at the defense table in a crowded Towson courtroom. The 18-year-old was facing a judge for his role in a shooting outside Randallstown High School — an act of violence that left the suburbs shaken and another teen paralyzed. William "Tipper" Thomas III, also 18, watched from his wheelchair, where doctors had told him he would remain for the rest of his life. The sentence: one hundred years. 

Maryland: Report - Provide Treatment, Not More Juvenile Prisons

Juvenile Justice Exchange

Maryland should invest in community-based treatment for juvenile delinquents instead of spending $225 million to build three juvenile prisons and replace buildings at a fourth, a state juvenile justice advisory panel urged. The Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit, part of the state Office of the Attorney General, made its recommendations in a 51-page report. "We should be contracting with folks offering evidence-based treatments in the community in the same way as if one of our children got in trouble," said Nick Moroney, the unit's director. 

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