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CFYJ Reports

Keeping Youth Out of Adult Jails and Prisons: New Opportunities Through State Policy Changes and New Federal Regulations

keeping youth out of adult prisonsThis policy brief captures the major reasons why youth should be removed from adult facilities and provides recommendations for policy reforms, resources and next steps.

State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System

State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System

State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System, takes a look at states that have, and are taking steps to remove children from the adult criminal justice system. Over the past eight years,twenty three states have enacted forty pieces of legislation to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal courts and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. The report documents the continuation of four trends in justice reform efforts across the country and highlights the key pieces of legislation enacted between 2011 and 2013.

Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System

youth in adult criminal justice systemThis policy brief showcases the latest data about youth in the adult criminal justice system, key arguments for reform and recommendations for change.

Using Graham v. Florida to Challenge Juvenile Transfer Laws

Using Graham v. Florida to Challenge Juvenile Transfer Laws

In October, 2011, CFYJ released Using Graham v. Florida to Challenge Juvenile Transfer Laws, authored by Neelum Arya, Research and Policy Director at the Campaign for Youth Justice. The article suggests that the recent Supreme Court opinion in Graham v. Florida abolishing life without parole sentences for juveniles (JLWOP) convicted of nonhomicide crimes, may be used to challenge juvenile transfer laws. Part I provides a description and analysis of the Graham opinion and reviews the Court's Eighth Amendment jurisprudence through to their recent ruling declaring JLWOP sentences for nonhomicide crimes unconstitutional. In Part II, Arya argues that youth have a right to rehabilitation found under the state's police power. In addition, Graham discusses three types of difficulties that adult decisionmakers in the criminal justice system have with respect to youth that may be useful to challenge transfer laws. First, judges and experts have problems evaluating the culpability and maturity of youth. Second, adult perceptions of youth are biased by the severity and manner in which the crimes were conducted. Third, counsel have difficulty representing youth in the adult system. Arya suggests these factors apply to all youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system, regardless of offense charged or sentence imposed. Finally, in Part III, Arya encourages lawyers to revisit these prior challenges in both individual cases and as part of impact litigation strategies to declare all transfer statutes, or portions of them, unconstitutional.

State Trends

New Report Highlights State Legislative Changes and Reform Efforts over the Last Five Years

statetrendsthumbIn April, 2011, CFYJ released State Trends: Legislative Changes from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System, authored by Neelum Arya, Research and Policy Director, which provides state policymakers, the media, the public, and advocates with the latest information about youth in the adult justice system. The first half of the report explains the dangers to youth, public safety, and the overall prosperity of our economy and future generations. The second half of the report examines 27 positive pieces of legislation enacted in 15 states during the last 5 years, as well as highlights active reform efforts underway in four categories:

  • Trend 1: Four states (Colorado, Maine, Virginia and Pennsylvania) have passed laws limiting the ability to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
  • Trend 2: Three states (Connecticut, Illinois and Mississippi) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
  • Trend 3: Ten states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
  • Trend 4: Four states (Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults.

This report arrives at a moment when there is a real opportunity for reform. States are recognizing that youth have developmental differences from adults as well as a great potential for rehabilitation, both of which should be taken into account in sentencing.

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