NEW YORK — The filmmaker could not get the number out of his head. Even while he was traveling the country to discuss “Shell Shocked” — a movie about children killing children with machine guns in the streets of his hometown New Orleans — it was a number that kept John Richie up at night.
After a classroom of children were found in a lifeless pile, shot to death by Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook, Conn., with an assortment of guns including a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, the country was awash in research and polling and charts about Americans and their guns.
Ten years ago, in Roper v. Simmons, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that death sentences for crimes committed prior to age 18 were unconstitutional. This landmark decision was obviously significant for putting an end to an inhumane practice long rejected by virtually every other country.
Roper enshrined within the law that children are different from adults and the U.S. can do better by its children. And in its first 10 years, Roper has offered much to capital punishment foes and juvenile justice reformers, making it worthy of celebration for these reasons alone.
Members of the former National Prison Rape Elimination Commission sent a letter earlier this month to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) expressing concern that the senator would propose an amendment to the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act.
“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
Kathy McNamara has played the roles of surrogate mother, mentor, big sister, coach, cheerleader, kindly counselor, confidante, inspiration and friend to her young charges. All the while, McNamara’s also served as their probation officer just outside Chicago in DuPage County, Ill. For 16 years now, she has worked on hundreds of the toughest of juvenile cases — those of so-called “dual-status youth,” kids entangled in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
Here and there, on the juvenile justice beat, you discover someone who goes so far beyond the call of duty you want to tell the world about that person. Kathy McNamara, a senior probation officer for juveniles, is one of those people. I first learned about McNamara, 45, while reporting on a JJIE story on dual-status youths. Continue Reading →
American Public Media's Marketplace is covering an innovative educational program at The Wyoming Girls' School this week. The initiative, in collaboration with The Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, is called Unjammed, and focuses on "using technology to transform teaching and learning inside of secure care facilities." Marketplace will also be covering more on the intersection of technology and juvenile corrections. Listen live or find the recordings here, here and here.
Should a 15-year-old boy who twice had sex with his 13-year-old girlfriend, then sexted her nude photos of himself be prosecuted, spend 11½ months in juvenile detention and be placed on a juvenile sex offender registry?
That question lies at the heart of a case before the Kentucky Supreme Court. Continue Reading →
Something “is outta kilter” or smells to “high heaven,” so bad it would “knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.” It looks like Mr. Listenbee does have a serious problem at OJJDP — employees who don’t know “crap from apple butter.” Why do these union employees not see what the advocates and experts see? Continue Reading →
African-American youth overwhelmingly receive harsher treatment than white youth in the system at most stages of case processing. African-American youth make up an astounding 30 percent of those arrested while they only represent 17 percent of the overall youth population. Continue Reading →
WASHINGTON — Long-overdue reauthorization of the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act will be the focus today for a federal committee that advises the Obama administration and congressional lawmakers on juvenile justice matters. Continue Reading →
We must stop kicking black and brown children out of school and arresting them. This is a national crisis but it is not treated as such. We spend more time thinking about how we are going to treat or change these young people once they’ve been kicked out of school and arrested rather than looking at pathological social conditions and policies, or at the disease of white supremacy. Continue Reading →