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Juvenile Justice News

Sens. Lankford and Booker introduce bipartisan bill to ban juvenile solitary confinement

Senators James Lankford R-Okla., and Cory Booker D-N.J., on Tuesday introduced the MERCY Act, a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the solitary confinement of juveniles who are tried in the federal system and held in pretrial facilities or juvenile detention facilities. 

A decade after prison, a poet studies for the bar exam

Reginald Dwayne Betts has wanted to be a lawyer for almost as long as he has wanted to be a poet. “Poetry and law have always been intertwined in my mind,” he said recently, “in part because poetry gives me the language to pretend that I can answer questions, even if I can’t.” We were in New Haven, Connecticut, and Betts was three days from his Yale Law School graduation. The bar exam was two months away. He was focused on his final paper for an empirical-research class: twenty pages on critiques, in the media, of “broken windows” policing. 

A Foundation Works To Engage Journalists in Juvenile Justice Reform

Reporters generally stink at math, yet they love numbers. The bigger the number, the more compelling the story becomes. Here's a number that scribes will hear at a juvenile-justice conference this week, sponsored by the Tow Foundation: It costs up to $90,000 to jail a youth for a year, and the re-offender rate is higher compared to cheaper intervention programs that stress staying in school and out of lockup.

A Judge Saw Potential, and Saved My Life

I was 15 when we snuck alcohol from a friend’s parents liquor cabinet. I was only 16 when I started smoking marijuana, and eventually, I tried this little pain pill the doctors prescribed. I never thought I’d lose the honors classes, sports, friendships —my future —to heroin, but by 17 I had.

A New Season For Youth Justice Reform

Summer has begun, and while some kids will be enjoying their first taste of freedom, others will be doing anything but. On any given day, more than 54,000 youth in the U.S. are being held under lock and key in residential placement facilities. In New York alone, over 1,600 youth are in confinement. And in this current moment, a kid in prison in almost any other State would also be hundreds of miles away from their home. We have essentially taken the structure of the adult corrections system and slapped it on youth. 

Accountability, it's more than just a word

He wanted to apologize, but his lawyer said, "Absolutely not!" He wanted to admit that he did it and wanted to say how sorry he was, but his lawyer refused to allow him to say anything, let alone admit to any wrongdoing. He explained to Malik, a 15-year-old youth from the South Side of Chicago that he was to deny any knowledge of the incident. Malik was detained in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago and was being charged as an adult for robbery.

Adam Sotak: Stop solitary confinement for kids

Regarding the May 26 news article “North Carolina prisons moving away from solitary confinement”: The N.C. Department of Public Safety should be applauded for its effort to phase out the inhumane practice of solitary confinement in state adult correctional facilities and for working with other state leaders and departments to help seek solutions to our state’s mental health crisis. Another unfortunate aspect of the solitary confinement issue is that since North Carolina automatically prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, some children in both county jails and at Foothills Correctional Center in Morganton are subjected to this cruel and counterproductive practice, also sometimes for months at a time. 

Adult Prison Sentences Make No Sense for Children

All children and youth in the United States deserve the opportunity to develop their potential and pursue the American dream. But for too many young people who unnecessarily come in contact with our criminal justice system, these possibilities are stymied.

ALABAMA: Athens City Schools to offer more opportunities for incarcerated youth

Incarcerated youth across the state will soon be able to continue their education and even earn their high school diploma through Athens City Schools. "There are hundreds of students in county jails either sentencing or waiting to be moved to another facility; they are not receiving any educational services," says Athens City School spokesperson Chris Hamilton.

ALABAMA: Legislation would require judge's OK before teens tried as adults

Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, has pre-filed legislation that would change Section 12-15-204 of the Alabama Code so those 16 and over charged with capital offenses, class A felonies and other violatant and crimes aren’t automatically placed in the adult system. Instead, a judge would have to decide if the teen is tried as adult.

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Andrew Cuomo, Van Jones: Reform Needed for Justice System That’s Failing Most Vulnerable

Our nation’s prison system faces a systemic, fundamental problem that must be addressed. Over the past 40 years, the prison population in the United States has increased 500%, with 2.2 million people currently incarcerated. Together, we have the responsibility and opportunity to reverse that trend and reform a criminal justice system that has grown too big and too unfair, especially to our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable: 16- and 17-year-olds who are ensnared in the adult criminal justice system.

Anger Management and the Code of the Street

The room was stuffy and hot, the scent of stale snack foods hung in the air and the boys in the anger management group in this locked facility were distracted. As a young clinician and group facilitator, I was frustrated.


Just over two years ago I was gloriously naive. Before the police knocked on my door the morning of May 31st, 2014, there was a lot I didn’t know. I didn’t know my daughter had a serious mental illness. Morgan had always been a quirky child. Extremely intelligent and intensely creative, people often said that she “marched to the beat of her own drum.” Although (in retrospect) there were a few red flags over the years, we were continuously reassured by her doctors and educators that Morgan was well “within the range of normal.” 

ARIZONA: In Maricopa County, Juveniles Are Often Held In Adult Jail

When Dallas Wyatt was just 16-years-old, he was charged with a serious crime: a drive by shooting. Police took him out of school and put him in jail. "As a young person, I thought coming to jail would just be sitting around for a few months and they’d let me go," Wyatt said. "I’ve been sitting around for a couple years now and that’s not the case.” 

Arkansas: Advocates Urge Lawmakers For Juvenile Justice Reform

UALR Public Radio California

Legislators heard from advocates and officials hoping to reform the state's judicial justice system on Wednesday. Panelists told lawmakers Arkansas is institutionalizing too many young people for minor offenses and the costs are high. Madelyn Keith is with the Arkansas Youth Services Association. She wants more intervention to happen at the community level. "It's been proven over the years that when the state provides resources for services identified as needed by community stakeholders and these are implemented, then the commitments to the Division of Youth Services do decrease," she said.

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