Home News Center Youth Justice Reform Roundup June 2017

Youth Justice Reform Roundup June 2017

June 21, 2017
Josh Gordon


June Youth Justice Reform Roundup

Legislative Advances

NJJN member Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance helped advance a bill that places new limits on the use of solitary confinement in Connecticut prisons. The measure provides greater transparency around the use of solitary confinement and limits the Department of Correction's ability to place youth  under 18 in the harshest form of solitary confinement.

NJJN's Delaware member, Delaware Center for Justice, worked to pass legislation expanding offenses eligible for expunction. Tennessee also passed a law to simplify the process for youth to expunge their records.

NJJN member, ACLU of NV, helped pass a juvenile justice bill of rights. See our full article on Nevada’s changes. 

National Juvenile Defender Center’s Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling worked with a coalition of local attorneys in Oregon to pass legislation prohibiting the use of shackling in juvenile court and during transport.

South Dakota changed provisions allowing the Governor to appoint an independent youth justice monitor. It also requires the state recieves semi-annual confidential reports of abuse and neglect allegations of individuals held in private facilities contracted by the Department of Corrections. 

As part of the state's Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative work with Pew Charitable Trusts, the Alabama Juvenile Justice Task Force was created to evaluate ways to improve the juvenile justice system.

Events and Actions

The MacArthur Justice Center at St. Louis challenged the Missouri Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) for blatant disregard for constitutional rights of youthful offenders entitled to a meaningful opportunity for release under a recent series of United States Supreme Court decisions related to youth with extreme and life sentences.

Christy Sampson-Kelly, an NJJN Youth Justice Leadership Institute alum, helped facilitate a poetry contest for young people confined in juvenile justice facilities across the country. The winning poems can be found here

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy is accepting applications for two initiatives designed to assist juvenile justice agencies and partners to improve outcomes for youth, families, staff, and communities. CJJR will host its fifth annual Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program from November 14-17, 2017 at Georgetown University. The training is designed to help jurisdictions identify the most promising areas for reform at key decision points in the juvenile justice system and specific strategies to reduce overrepresentation and address racial and ethnic disparities at those decision points. Applications will be accepted through August 4, 2017. You can download the application packet here, and click here to apply. The Multi-System Collaboration Training and Technical Assistance Program supports jurisdictions that are interested in developing or enhancing a sound infrastructure to promote multi-system approaches to serving at-risk, justice-involved youth and their families. Applications will be accepted until August 11, 2017. You can download the application packet here, and click here to apply. Contact jjreform@georgetown.edu or 202-687-4942 with any questions about either program.

Publications/Resources/Noteworthy Press

The Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division determined that a recent incident at the privately run Rite of Passage youth facility constituted child maltreatment. The finding comes after the state recently turned over the facility to the private company after a long history of abuse at the facility under the management of Cornell Interventions and G4S, both for-profit companies. For more information about the dangers of for-profit facilities and ways to safeguard youth who are placed in these facilities, read NJJN’s policy platform and supporting document. NJJN member Paul Kelly of Arkansas Advocates for Children argued in a related article that youth should not be held in large institutions. Kelly stated that Arkansas has systematically over-invested in institutions and underinvested in community-based alternatives.

NJJN member, North Carolina Youth Justice Project released a report on the negative impacts of suspensions, which showed that public school students in North Carolina lost 1 million days to school suspensions in the 2015-2016 school year. North Carolina Public Radio talked with Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellow Ricky Watson Jr. about the report’s findings.

NJJN’s California members, Youth Justice Coalition and Anti-Recidivism Coalition released a report that outlines the dangers of the current practice of placing at-risk youth, with no  prior court or probation involvement, under supervision by the department of probation. The report calls for an end to this practice and for an investment in youth and community development instead.

The North Carolina Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity awarded the James E. Williams, Jr. Award to Ricky Watson, an  NJJN Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellow, and Peggy Nicholson of the Youth Justice Project, an NJJN organizational member, for their work educating policymakers, youth and communities about the importance of raise the age in North Carolina. Learn more.

Elizabeth Clarke, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative and an NJJN member, is quoted in an NPR piece on why Illinois' minimum age for juvenile detention needs to be raised. Currently, children as young as ten can be held in the detention facility. “Children are more likely to age out of criminal offending,” says Clarke. “People age out of criminal offending all across the world, if we could just get out of the way. But starting with locking a child who has never been away from home before, in a prison-setting and a cell, and shutting that door and leaving them all alone in the dark, when they are elementary school age —10, 11 and 12 — you are going to have lifelong issues, and you haven’t even proven them guilty yet.” 

The North Carolina State Bar Journal published an article by Eric Zogry of the Office of the Juvenile Defender in its Summer 2017 issue in honor of In re Gault. To commemorate the anniversary of the landmark decision, Eric interviewed several juvenile defense counsel from around North Carolina to tell their story of how they became defenders, what inspires their practice, and their reflections on the 50th anniversary of the Gault decision.

A new report titled Access Denied: A National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel by the National Juvenile Defender Center reveals that in both law and practice, children are routinely denied basic due process protections in court.

Karen Dolan, Institute for Policy Studies Fellow, wrote a piece for NewsWeek on the impact that youth incarceration has on families. Karen writes that holidays bring an acute pain to the families of 54,000 children that are incarcerated in this country — the most of any in the world.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016." This annual report provides the most recent data on school crime and student safety.

Strategies for Youth released a new report: Where’s the State? Creating and Implementing State Standards for Law Enforcement Interactions with Youth.

The Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law released a new publication entitled Protecting Children Against Torture in Detention: Global Solutions for a Global Problem.

The American Youth Policy Forum recently published Understanding Foster, Juvenile Justice, and Crossover Youth, an overview of the structural problems and barriers to success faced by youth who are in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.   

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