Popular Rapper Chief Keef Sentenced to Juvenile Detention

A popular young rapper will spend the next two months in an Illinois juvenile detention center. Rapper Chief Keef was sentenced Thursday to a 60-day stay in juvie, following a June 26 probation violation. The 17-year-old Chicagoan—whose real name is Keith Cozart—was serving 18 month’s probation for allegedly pointing a firearm at several police officers when he fired a rifle at an indoor gun range while filming a video in New York, violating his parole. As a result, not only was Cozart’s probation revoked Thursday, but he was also made a ward of the state for what a judge considered “blatant violations” of court orders. Cozart became an overnight rap sensation last year, based on the strength of singles popularized on YouTube like “Love Sosa” and “I Don’t Like.” His major label debut on Interscope Records, “Finally Rich,” was released December 2012 and has sold nearly 100,000 copies.

To Keep Kids Out of the System, We Need Community Involvement

Most of the teenagers walking into my courtroom were 1st or 2nd time visitors.  They didn’t want to return, and we worked with them and their parents to make that first visit their last one. However, some kids need more support and intervention to change their life trajectories from negative to positive. After seeing the same teens in court year after year, judges wonder what it will take to change the behaviors that keep bringing them back into court. Short of sending a youth off to a state prison, the options usually available to juvenile court judges include stern lectures and warnings, mandated community service, assessment and rehabilitative services, and electronic monitoring. Sometimes judges reach a point where everything has been tried at least once, and yet the youth is again back in court with a new offense.  When that happens, will the judge leave the youth with his or her family and try for rehabilitation again?

Foundation Honors Champions of Juvenile Justice Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Arrested and convicted as a teenager, Starcia Marie Ague made a decision to escape her present and her troubled past by focusing on her education. She finished high school and began taking college courses while still incarcerated. Upon her release, she completed an associate’s degree at a community college in Spokane, Wash., and went on to graduate from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2010. This afternoon, Ague, who once spent six years in secure juvenile facilities, became the youngest person honored as a Champion for Change by the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, an award reserved for people who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the way things work in the juvenile justice system and who have creatively used the resources provided by the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative to push for system reform. Six other people received the awards, announced today at the 7th annual Models for Change national conference in Washington, D.C. They are Lisa M. Garry of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services; Laura Cohen of the Rutgers School of Law-Newark; Gene Griffin of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Arthur D. Bishop of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice; Sharon Guy Hornsby of Northshore Technical Community College, Florida Parishes Campus; and George D. Mosee Jr. of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Division.

The High Cost of Ineffective Juvenile Justice Policy

Anyone who has been involved with governmental agencies can probably attest to their generally poor quality of service and high level of ineptitude. Bureaucracies by their nature are designed to remove decision making power from those best able to make the decisions. They attempt to automize decision making, and the results are often predictably absurd. Juvenile justice systems are usually no exception. A recent study of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) found it to be ineffective and costly according to a December 13th story in the Chicago Tribune.