For more than a decade I have interviewed more than 1,000 kids in 35 states. What of these kids who were sentenced to long sentences and JLWOP, life sentences without parole? These kids become adults who become geriatric. These are the people I have interviewed for the past year.
These are their stories. There are more than 2,000 people — juveniles serving life without parole all over the country. These are some of their voices. These are their faces.
While the man behind the landmark decision that ended mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles waits for a new sentence, other inmates given the same term are getting a shot at eventual freedom.
Evan Miller went back before a judge in his hometown of Moulton, Alabama, for a three-day resentencing hearing March 13. Lawrence County Circuit Judge Mark Craig’s decision is still pending.
But the Supreme Court ruling that bears Miller’s name is already bearing fruit for other Alabama inmates serving life without parole for crimes they committed before they were 18. For them, the process can be difficult, slow and vary county by county. And thanks to a 2016 state law, they may have a long wait for a parole hearing even if they succeed.
Twenty-two years ago, a retired juvenile court judge in San Francisco teamed up with a Native American healer to help kids get on a positive path and avoid juvenile court. This summer, the organization they created was among 18 groups that received grants from New York Life Insurance Company to help underserved middle school students reach ninth grade on time.
Youth employment programs are one of the most effective ways to assist disadvantaged youth, especially those in the juvenile justice system, in developing life competencies. Competent youth have a better chance of becoming competent adults.
“If someone had just asked, things might have been different,” said Mateo, a closeted, gay, gang-involved teenager in juvenile detention for committing a hate crime against a gay person. Mateo (pseudonym used to protect confidentiality) had committed a robbery at gunpoint outside a gay bar while shouting homophobic slurs at his victim.
A growing body of research, including work published here, documents harms of what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Evidence shows that compared to 20 or more years ago, contemporary schools are more likely to suspend students — particularly students of color — out of school for minor misbehaviors.
The federal government’s attempts to bring consistency and standards to public education across the country have often clashed with the reality facing educators trying to meet those standards. The challenge is even greater for those working with teens locked behind bars or struggling to deal with years of physical and emotional trauma.
A white board with a giant illustration of the human brain sat in the middle of the room, a constant reminder, participants said, that any real attempts to treat juvenile offenders begins not with detention or tough love, but with science.
TBI is approximately three times more likely to occur within youth in the juvenile justice system relative to their nondelinquent peers. Therefore, we make an urgent call to action to all practitioners across the juvenile justice system to focus on TBI with evidence-driven assessment tools and interventions.
We have set up a world where we — the professionals, the middle class, the white … pick your mark of privilege — are the gatekeepers. What we should be doing is supporting communities in leading conversations about justice reforms. Families should be deciding whether we merit an invitation; not the other way around.
Our organization has just completed three straight years of doing our in-school violence and bullying prevention program in middle schools and high schools throughout the United States, reaching 9,436 youth. Data and statistics aside, we adults associated with the program learned quite a bit about youth and violence.
More than five years of lobbying, arm twisting and a fair dose of shaming finally paid off. North Carolina voted Monday to end its status as the only state in the country that still automatically charges 16-year-olds as adults, no matter the crime.