TALKING ROCK, Ga. — Not long before Tony and April Davis met, he was facing up to 60 years in prison for robbery and drug charges. April’s young children had been taken from her and placed in foster care. She was also facing jail time for drug use and child neglect. Neither seemed like good candidates for eHarmony.
Recently Tony, 50, April, 40, and their two children, Austin Ramsey, 16, and Sara Ramsey, 12, spoke to the JJIE about their past struggles and how ultimately the Pickens County Drug Court played a major role in bringing the family together and setting them on the road to a new life.
George Toca, sentenced as a teen to life without parole in 1985 has been released from a Louisiana prison after Orleans Parish prosecutors allowed him to enter an Alford plea, leading to the vacation of his previous sentence.
Nine years ago I never dreamed that my career would become so focused on young offenders and that I would be working as the project director of the newly created National Juvenile Justice Prosecution Center at Georgetown University.
Research also consistently finds that state-funded youth corrections facilities are dangerous, unnecessary, obsolete and inadequate for the serious mental health, educational and social service needs faced by many court-involved youth.
“Government must focus on the needs of families, must be the protector of neighborhoods and must guard the people from the enormous power of monied interests. Now my friends, it can be done, but not by elected leaders alone. It requires average New Yorkers who simply refuse to allow their community’s voices to be stifled. It’s their spirit that I intend to sweep into City Hall. A spirit that shouts that all boroughs were created equal and that all our residents matter! So, let’s be honest about where we are today. This is a place that in too many ways has become a tale of two cities. …” — Bill de Blasio
In Georgia, armed robbery with a firearm goes straight to adult court. It also means a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison unless transferred by the prosecutor to juvenile court. Continue Reading →
WASHINGTON — A national juvenile justice campaign launched today with the ambitious goals of halving youth incarceration in 15 states over the next five years while expanding community-based alternatives for offenders. Continue Reading →
Many of the kids in juvenile detention with substance abuse disorders get poor or no treatment, according to Reclaiming Futures, a nonprofit that helps young people in trouble with drugs, alcohol and crime. Continue Reading →
With youth crime rates and numbers of incarcerated youths declining, now is the ideal time to review how juvenile incarceration meets the needs of youths, their families and society. California is in the process of allocating $80 million in funding for counties to build juvenile facilities. To ensure these facilities are rehabilitative, they need to originate from a belief in the capacity for people to change. Psychologists refer to this belief as mindset; it is a well-established phenomenon in education, and is equally applicable to our juvenile justice system. Mindset applies to everyone. Continue Reading →
NEW YORK — The image and words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could be seen and heard everywhere the Dream4Justice march went, from Harlem to Midtown, Monday afternoon. But as the marchers walked a slow and peaceful four miles over as many hours, King’s voice mixed with the protesters’ now familiar chants: “I have a dream” alongside “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace.”
King’s memory brought organizers and protesters together but the marchers’ demands came from more recent deaths. In memory of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others who had been killed by police, the march ended near the United Nations to bring attention to police brutality as a human rights issue. Marchers called for immediate policy change at the city and state levels in keeping with King’s philosophy. “We are non-violent but we are not peaceful,” said Tamika Mallory, an organizer and board member of The Gathering for Justice. Continue Reading →
New York state should raise the age that youths can be tried and convicted as adults to 18, a commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended Monday. Cuomo, speaking in Albany, said he planned to propose the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice as a legislative package to the State Assembly. In a 164-page report, the commission said its recommendations would reduce by 1,500 to 2,400 the number of crimes against people across the state every five years while saving taxpayer dollars. And pointing to states including Connecticut and Illinois that have raised the age of criminal responsibility, the report said recidivism and juvenile crime rates can be lowered through “evidence-based” interventions that steer nonviolent young offenders out of the juvenile justice system and into family mental health or other services. “Extensive research on the significant negative impacts on adolescents of incarceration in adult jails and prisons has brought a sense of urgency for reform,” the report stated. Continue Reading →
So-called dual-status youth, those in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, present enormous challenges. Many of the children are chronic runaways who have suffered from severe physical or emotional abuse, neglect and abandonment. They typically come from troubled homes often beset by domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness.
Historically, the juvenile justice and other child-serving systems have not worked together. That’s starting to change, albeit slowly.
The complexities of dealing with dual-status kids notwithstanding, success stories show how breaking down barriers between the juvenile justice and child welfare systems can make all the difference in a child’s life. Continue Reading →