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Juvenile Justice News

To reform juvenile justice, Alabama must dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline is shorthand for a misguided and counterproductive system that pushes children out of public schools and seriously increases the likelihood that they will end up in the juvenile and adult justice systems.

To stop sexual assault in the juvenile system, close youth prisons

This week's U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics new report on sexual victimization of youth locked up in the juvenile justice system confirms what we already know about youth prisons: They aren't safe. According to the BJS report, rates of sexual victimization of incarcerated youth in the juvenile justice system have increased over the last decade. 

Tom Cotton Lone Holdout on Juvenile Justice Reform Bill

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has not been one to shy away from a hardline stance on criminal justice issues. In a speech last year, Cotton claimed the United States, home to more than 20 percent of the world’s prison population, has “an under-incarceration problem.” But such views may be out of touch even with his own constituents in Arkansas.

Treat Kids Like Kids Until 18

The state Senate should be ashamed of itself. For the second time in as many years, it has refused (so far) to give serious consideration to widely supported efforts to make sure 16- and 17-year-olds don't get sent to the adult criminal justice system when they get into trouble with the law. The right policy solution — doing what all neighboring states do and treating kids like kids until their 18th birthday — is simple. Now New York just needs the political will to do the right thing. 

U.S. Senate: Time to stand for youth

With just days left in the 114th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the opportunity to lead the U.S. Senate in passing an important bill for our nation’s youth.  The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) reauthorization is bipartisan legislation that was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives this fall, and has received the support of 99 U.S. Senators.

U.S. states should ban solitary confinement for kids, doctors say

Too many incarcerated U.S. children serve time in solitary confinement even though the United Nations and many physician groups believe this form of punishment amounts to torture and should be banned, some doctors argue. U.S. President Barack Obama recently banned solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, but most incarcerated kids are housed in state and local facilities that aren’t covered by this ban, Dr. Mikah Owen and Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen of the University of Florida note in an article in the journal Pediatrics. 

Untrained Police Officers in Schools Focus on Girls of Color, Report Says

Black girls are nearly four times more likely to be arrested at school than their white counterparts and Latina girls are almost three times more likely to be arrested in elementary school than white girls, a new report says.

UTAH: In our opinion: Reform the juvenile justice system — an inspiring though not unique case in point

Article in the Deseret News

Society has long struggled over what to do with violent juvenile criminals — those who commit crimes so heinous they are cast as unredeemable. Juvenile detention centers were created as a way to recognize that people make mistakes as youths that they wouldn’t repeat once they matured into adulthood, but the public tends to view murder as a sign of incorrigibility.

Now a movement is afoot, including at the Utah Legislature, to take a softer approach, one that doesn’t lock doors and throw away keys on young people who, though guilty of terrible crimes, deserve an eventual second chance.

This is a good thing. Advocates of a bill they hope would eliminate life sentences for juveniles in Utah brought a powerful spokesman to Salt Lake City this month. We hope people were listening.

UTAH: John Florez: Courts Should Protect Children's Interests, Too (Deseret News)

"The idea that a child is put in adult prison with adult criminals - in my mind - is unconscionable," said state Sen. Aaron Osmond when he learned that a 16-year-old, charged as an adult, had been sentenced to Utah's adult prison. Osmond said he would sponsor a bill to change part of the current Utah Serious Youth Offender Law that allows judges to send minors to adult prison if they commit serious offenses. That law was passed when there was a national movement to be tough on crime.

Vital Juvenile Justice Initiatives at Risk in First 100 Days

From banning conversion therapy for gay and trans youth to eliminating solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons, President Obama issued a slew of executive orders designed to protect at-risk youth over the past eight years. Now, advocates are worried that new executive orders will undo all that’s been done.

Ways to Let Detained Youth Know They’re Not Forgotten This Holiday Season

As the holidays approach, we often forget there are so many youth who are detained, in placement or simply away from their families. There were 50,821 youth in some type of facility in 2014, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency and Prevention reported.

We Can Help You Reduce Use of Solitary in Your Juvenile Facility

By now, you have probably heard about Kalief Browder. Kalief spent three years in Rikers Island, two of them in solitary confinement, before charges against him were eventually dropped. He was 16 years old. Reports indicate that he was assaulted by correctional officers on camera and denied mental health services. After his release, the depression and flashbacks caused by these experiences led Kalief to take his own life.

We Need an Intersectional Approach to Juvenile Justice Reform

DMC (disproportionate minority contact) is no longer simply about the over-representation of black and brown youth in the juvenile justice system. In recent years, it has come to mean something far broader and deeper to those in the reform trenches.

What About Convicts of Violent Crimes?

Marcus Bullock is an incarceration-reform advocate who launched a painting company after his 2004 release from prison. As well, he is the founder and CEO of an app, Flikshop, that enables the imprisoned to receive email. Asked what proposition ought to be subject to more debate, he focused on the fate of criminals.

What I really want for Father’s Day: Stop Solitary for Kids

As Father’s Day approached, and I watched my kids excitedly make plans to celebrate, I couldn’t help but reflect on my juvenile justice reform work. As a former youth corrections administrator, I noticed their excitement is so different than the isolation we know is too often experienced by kids in facilities. 

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