David Johnson wants the teenagers he works with to know that in North Carolina, 16- and 17-year-olds are charged as adults, not juveniles, a reality he says makes it harder for young people to get access to the programs they need to get on a healthy path.
For more than a decade, juvenile justice reformers have used developments in adolescent brain science and psychology to make their case for a system that emphasizes rehabilitation and second chances for young offenders.
Many policymakers and advocates know they want to close youth prisons, where they say young offenders are often isolated, unsafe and go without the services they need to thrive when they return to their communities.
A new set of resources from the federal Education Department aims to help justice-involved youth transition back into school and avoid further offenses.
The department released Friday a guide for students and an updated transitions toolkit for administrators and practitioners who work with youth, emphasizing for both the importance of early reentry planning.
Better data collection, improved efforts to attract juvenile defenders and well-funded, well-organized defense systems are among the ways to ensure youth charged with an offense have a lawyer by their side when they enter a courtroom, a new report says.