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.
The Youth First! Initiative — founded by longtime juvenile justice advocate Liz Ryan — will also seek to reduce rampant racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile incarceration.
“The vast majority of these kids are in for things like misdemeanors, status offenses [such as cutting school or alcohol possession], property offenses, drug offenses, even probation and parole violations,” Ryan said. “To me, it just underscores that at a minimum, we could experience another 50 percent drop in youth incarceration.”
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.
“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
Newton County is one of four sites in the nation chosen by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps to serve as a demonstration project — to show how the juvenile justice court can work with DFCS, other children-serving agencies and the community to identify dual status youth and get them the help they need. Continue Reading →
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Way up in northwestern Minnesota, progress is being made within the Ojibwe tribes. Since September, the traditional divisions between the systems of juvenile justice and child welfare have begun to be erased. Continue Reading →
The practice of indiscriminate shackling of children in juvenile court — the use of wrist, belly or ankle restraints, often with limited consideration of the case’s circumstances — is fraught with peril from a developmentally or trauma-informed perspective. Continue Reading →
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley has asked the Justice Department to respond to whistleblowers’ claims that it fraudulently paid millions of dollars in grant money to states that should not have received the money because they incarcerated nonviolent juvenile offenders in violation of federal law.
In a six-page letter sent Wednesday to Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who heads the Office of Justice Programs, Grassley detailed the allegations that the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) had knowingly violated federal law by giving the grants to states that incarcerated runaway youth, foster children and other “vulnerable minors.” Continue Reading →
When we focus criminal justice reforms only on teenagers, we suggest that there is an age at which it is appropriate for an individual to receive an excessively long sentence, and that the effects of that sentence may be more harmful to their dignity and human rights than it would be for an adult. Continue Reading →
Adults who work with and represent children — while well-intentioned and likely informative — are not substitutes for hearing and learning from actual youth, including the youngest among them. Continue Reading →