I was 13, and my girlfriends and I had just begun to hang out with some older boys. It was the summer before the eighth grade, and they were 16, going to be juniors, and they had a car. We’d hang out late at night, each telling our mothers that we were at the other friend’s house, and we’d mostly hang out on the jungle gyms at the park or drive out to the Las Vegas desert and drink wine coolers.
As we observe the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Thursday, Pope Francis’ recent call for the elimination of life sentences and abolition of all criminal penalties for children is especially noteworthy.
When you step off the Q100 bus on Rikers Island, the scent of saltwater hangs in the air, at least in warm-weather months. Within a few feet, however, you’re staring at cement on cement and inhaling some combination of cigarettes, steaming blacktop and too many people.
While many university students were concerned about parking or trying to avoid long lines to get their books, Jalyn was trying to find a place to live. She and her family have been homeless since the summer of 2012. Some days she is able to eat twice a day, others only once. Her financial aid was put on hold because she has not been able to confirm a home address in Georgia.
To 16-year-old Samuel, the choice to leave his home in El Salvador became very clear. “The gangs were killing my family members, and they wanted to kill me,” Samuel said in Spanish through a translator. “They wanted to cut my fingers — mine and my sisters. And that’s the reason I came.” Continue Reading →
Once a month, my husband and I visit a juvenile lifer at a state prison in Waynesburg, Pa., just 15 miles north of the West Virginia border. Every time we take the exit for Ken's prison, those signs for West Virginia remind me that the difference between hope and despair often depends on a state line. Continue Reading →
The records of juvenile offenders are not nearly as confidential as they should be, and the records are also not easily sealed or expunged, a report shows.
The first such report, issued Thursday in the form of a report card by the Juvenile Law Center, shows that many states fail to protect the records to begin with. Other states fail to seal or expunge the records later. Some states do both. Continue Reading →
Author Nell Bernstein ("All Alone in the World," "Burning Down The House") proposes the end of the juvenile prison while on a panel at the American Justice Summit on Nov. 10 in New York: Continue Reading →
NEW YORK — Ruben Rodriguez walked into the Robert N. Daveron Complex (RNDC), the main adolescent house on Rikers Island, in a faded stone-colored jumpsuit on April 25. A number of inmates whom he recognized from his previous sentence, bristled with fear, but also showed respect and pity when Ruben said he was back on murder charges. Continue Reading →
Three states illustrate efforts to foster “family engagement,” which has become a buzzword in juvenile justice circles. It’s about building bridges between family members — or other key figures in youths’ lives — and the staff at juvenile facilities that house youngsters. Continue Reading →