More States Need to Halt Prosecution of Youth as Adults

This month marks one year since the passage of Proposition 57, a California ballot measure that prohibited district attorneys from filing charges against youth as young as 14 directly in adult criminal court through a practice known as “direct file.” The initiative passed with 64 percent of the vote, signaling strong popular support for curtailing prosecutorial authority and expanding access to the rehabilitative benefits of the juvenile justice system.

“Crossover Youth”: The Intersection of Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Crossover youth is more than the latest buzzword in the often jargon-filled lexicon of juvenile justice. Instead, the term reflects a growing understanding of the dynamic between child abuse, neglect and delinquency. This population of young people has contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Addressing child welfare is challenging enough, let alone when joined with deeper problems of delinquency. Abused young people often carry scars of trauma and pain, which can inform delinquent behavior that leads to subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system. However, the complex challenges and needs of crossover youth often prove too much for each system alone to address.

Why Juvenile Justice Systems Need Local Data

Local application of juvenile justice policies vary widely and understanding these trends is of fundamental importance to policymaking. Governors, legislators, stakeholders, and public watchdogs all use data to inform their understanding of the impact of a proposed law, as well as the effectiveness of the currently implemented system. The results of juvenile justice policy are far-reaching; therefore, it is critical that accurate and relevant data inform policy decisions. In California, 58 autonomous counties administer juvenile justice serving 99 percent of the state’s justice involved youth. The state’s role currently involves operating three dilapidated and isolated youth correctional facilities that house about 930 of California’s more high-need offenders.

Increased Teen Driver Restrictions May Not be Working

A lot of debate exists about whether teen driving restrictions are successful, and a new nationwide study says graduated driver licensing programs placed on younger teens are merely shifting the dangers to older teens, according to the Los Angeles Times. But then others still support a study published last year in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention that found the rate of fatal crashes to be lower and the accident rate for 18- and 19-year olds to be essentially the same. For more than a decade, many states have enacted laws to restrict their newest teen drivers, such as restricting the hours when they can get behind the wheel and whom they can bring along as passengers, and public officials believed they were saving lives. Now, this new study published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests otherwise. When the researchers examined data on more than 131,000 fatal crashes involving teen drivers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1986 and 2007, they found that the number of fatal crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers has fallen.