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CFYJ Reports

State Trends: Updates from the 2013-2014 Legislative Session

Author: By Neelum Arya

State Trends: Updates from the 2013-2014 Legislative Session

This report takes a look at states that have, and are taking steps to remove children from the adult criminal justice system.

State Trends documents the continuation of four trends in justice reform efforts across the country to roll back transfer laws in the country, from arrest through sentencing. Building on efforts from the last decade, states continue to amend and eliminate harmful statutes and policies created in the 1990s that placed tens of thousands of youth in the adult criminal justice system. In 2014, advocacy, research, operative Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations, and fiscal analysis assisted in the introduction of bills in nine states to remove youth from the adult criminal justice system and give youth an opportunity at more rehabilitative services.

"Reform efforts strengthened tremendously during the 2013-2014 legislative sessions with nine states--Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Hawaii, changing statutes and examining policies to allow more youth to stay in the juvenile justice system," said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of CFYJ. "The trend is continuing and the message is resonating across the country that kids need to be treated like kids."

Since CFYJ's inception, over half of the states have enacted legislation that echo what public polls, brain science, and even the Supreme Court have recognized: kids are different.

"Youth who commit offenses have a better chance of rehabilitation, and in most cases, are better served in the juvenile justice system rather than the adult criminal justice system," said Carmen Daugherty, CFYJ Policy Director and author of the report. "The state victories reported are a testament to families, advocates, and youth demanding more from their policy makers, and policy makers demanding more accountability from the state courts and agencies responsible for handling youth justice issues."

America's Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice

Author: Neelum Arya, Francisco Villarruel, Cassandra Villanueva, and Ian Augarten

americas invisible childrenCFYJ and NCLR have just released the latest volume in the Race and Ethnicity Series, focusing on Latino youth in the justice system. In addition to providing the latest facts about Latino youth in the U.S. justice system, the report highlights promising solutions and policy recommendations to reduce the disparities.


Critical Condition: African-American Youth in the Justice System

Author: Neelum Arya, Ian Augarten, and Hilary O. Shelton

critical conditionAn examination of how African-American youth are disproportionately affected by transfer laws. Key findings include that most African-American youth are transferred by statutory exclusion or prosecutorial waiver mechanisms, many are not convicted (suggesting that the cases brought against them are not very strong), and that most youth prosecuted in the adult system are not serious violent offenders.

Read the Report  |  Read the Fact Sheet  |  Read the Press Release

A Tangled Web of Justice: American Indian and Alaska Native Youth in Federal, State, and Tribal Justice Systems

Author: Neelum Arya and Addie C. Rolnick

tangled web of justiceAn examination of how Native American youth are disproportionately affected by transfer laws. Key findings include that many Native American youth commit low-level offenses and receive either no court intervention or disproportionately severe sanctions. Also examines the interaction of the tribal justice system with the state and federal justice systems and how that impacts youth transfer.

Jailing Juveniles

Author: Neelum Arya

Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America

Jailing Juveniles

A November 2007 report from the Campaign for Youth Justice, “Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America,” provides a summary of the risks that youth face when incarcerated in adult jails and a review of the limited federal and state laws protecting them. Every day in America, an average of 7,500 youth are incarcerated in adult jails. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has protected children in the justice system for more than three decades. Under the “Jail Removal” core protection, youth cannot be detained in adult jails except in limited exceptions and in those narrow circumstances the “Sight and Sound Separation” core protection prohibits contact with adults. However these protections do not apply to youth being tried in the adult criminal system.

The report “Jailing Juveniles” shows how difficult is it to keep children safe in adult jails. They have the highest suicide rates of all inmates in jails, as they are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility. Youth in adult jails are also at great risk of physical and sexual assault, as 21% and 13% of all substantiated victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in jails in 2005 and 2006 respectively, were youth under the age of 18 (surprisingly high since only 1% of jail inmates are juveniles). Congress could easily fix this problem by extending the protections of the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) that disallow the placement of children in adult jails to protect all children, no matter what court they are in – juvenile or adult.

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