Teen Photographers Take Spotlight at Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center

“Urban Deconstruction,” an exhibit sponsored by Wells Fargo’s ArtsVibe Teen Program and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE), paints a dual portrait of Atlanta as both a modern marvel and a city in decay. The photographs on display at the Alliance Theater are a vision of the Southeastern metropolis as both towering buildings and dilapidated structures, a place where spiraling skyscrapers stand side-by-side with crumbling schoolhouses and abandoned, graffiti-covered interiors. The artwork, much like the city itself, is a demonstration of sharp contrasts and contradictions. The artists behind the exhibit, however, aren’t your average photojournalists. Devin Black, 18, of Sandy Springs, Ga.

TV Series Brings Neighbors Together to Help Family in Crisis

Back in the fall of 2011, kids bullied Alycin Mabry so severely that her mom decided to home school the Atlanta 14-year-old. At the time, her mom Annise Mabry saw homeschooling as the shining answer the family needed. But today, Mabry says, it’s clear that their struggle was far from over. “Maybe two or three months into the online school, Ali started to become more and more isolated,” Mabry said. “I just couldn’t get her out of the room.

Felony Charges Dropped Against Young Undocumented Student at Heart of Immigration Debate

A nearly three-year legal battle has come to an end for a young undocumented immigrant whose 2010 arrest sparked a national debate over U.S. immigration policy, particularly the right of undocumented immigrants to attend public universities. Thursday, a Cobb County, Georgia, judge dismissed a false-swearing charge against the now 23-year-old Jessica Colotl stemming from her arrest on March 29, 2010. A Kennesaw State University (KSU) police officer stopped Colotl, a KSU student, for a traffic infraction on campus. She was arrested the following day after failing to produce for authorities a valid driver’s license. Colotl’s case has been widely publicized nationally, drawing renewed attention to the use of 287(g) programs, which allow local police agencies to enforce immigration law and detain suspected undocumented immigrants.

Foundation Strives to Create Legacy for Juvenile Justice Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nonprofit MacArthur Foundation has spent more than $100 million since 2004 on developing blueprints for reform within the juvenile justice systems of 16 states. Earlier this week, its reform initiative, Models for Change, brought together nearly 400 judges, advocates, probation officers and other juvenile justice professionals for two days of workshops in Washington, D.C.

It was the seventh such yearly gathering for Models for Change partners, and it came at a time when the foundation is beginning to wind down funding for new research into juvenile justice reforms and enter a new phase focused on defining, sustaining and disseminating to the rest of the country the reform models its state partners and networks have already developed. As the foundation moves toward solidifying the legacy of its blueprint initiative, its conference this year emphasized the power of storytelling and collaboration as a way to convey the impact of justice reforms to other states and to the public. The storytelling theme ran through several events over the two-day event. Public relations professionals held a plenary session to discuss how juvenile justice organizations could craft an effective public message.

VIDEO: Voices of Advocates at the Models for Change Conference

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange is at the 2012 annual Models for Change conference, a conference geared toward supporting a network of policy makers, government and court officials, advocates, educators, community leaders and families cooperating together in an effort to ensure that “kids who make mistakes are held accountable and treated fairly throughout the juvenile justice process.” JJIE had the opportunity to catch up with several different officials from varying organizations about their goals and thoughts on the subject of juvenile justice. Continue checking in for ongoing updates. [Friday 12/7/12]

[4:19 p.m.]

Jessica Sandoval, Director of National Field Operations at the Campaign for Youth Justice, talks about how her organization got its start and where its going in the future.  [12:43 p.m.]

Rhonda McKitten, Director of Training and Senior Trial Attorney of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, shares a story about a teen who was positively impacted by one of her programs.

[Thursday 12/6/12] 

[2:14 p.m.]

Nancy Gannon Hornberger, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, shares an anecdote about a young person whose circumstances led to her being harshly charged in criminal court.

A Thanksgiving Reflection: How Advocacy Can Make a Difference

Early this week, I was having Thanksgiving dinner with my fiancée. She is on her way home for the holiday, and I am staying in Georgia to work on my final paper for school and take care of a few other tasks, so we shared the meal a few days early. Before we began to eat, we took a few moments to talk about what we have been grateful for this past year. It was a pretty long list for both of us, and touched on our relationships, our work, good health, and many other things. It seems that gratitude has been coming up a lot in my life lately, in discussions with friends and online.

JJIE Presents: The Juvenile Justice Documentary Project, in Partnership with Calamari Productions

Aaron, 18 years old and dressed in an oversized, light grey sweatshirt, sits blankly across from Intake Officer Clayton in an Indiana detention center while she asks him questions, his face betraying little emotion and his voice barely above a whisper. “I can’t hear you,” Clayton says, and Aaron repeats his answer, just loud enough for her to hear. As Clayton tells Aaron of an impending charge, shock flickers across his otherwise still face – this was the first he’d heard anything about it. Scenes such as this are common in the work of Calamari Productions. In an effort to continue bringing innovative, accurate insights on juvenile justice, The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange has formed a partnership with this award-winning production.

Center for Sustainable Journalism is Now Home to Youth Today

The Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University will begin publishing Youth Today, the nationally distributed newspaper that is read online and in print by thousands of professionals in the youth services field.  “Having Youth Today housed at Kennesaw State University is a perfect fit,” said Ken Harmon, KSU provost. “We have undergraduate and advanced degree programs in compatible areas, including journalism, social work, criminology, conflict management, educational leadership and other health and human sciences, all of which can provide best practice training and research to advance the Youth Today mission.”

Leonard Witt, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Journalism, said the addition of Youth Today to the center’s publishing portfolio is an excellent extension of the work it does. “We now publish the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, JJIE.org, the only entity to cover juvenile justice every day with professional journalists, so this is a natural addition to the work we do,” Witt said. “We will be able to get Youth Today back to its full potential, while expanding the JJIE.org reach at the same time.”

Financial challenges almost led to the demise of the subscription-based newspaper that covers a wide range of issues including juvenile justice, foster care, mentoring, substance abuse, sexual behavior, after school programs, mentoring, youth employment, child welfare, college and careers, gangs, violence prevention, adolescent health, teen pregnancy and parenting.

The Best of JJIE in 2011

This holiday season, before you are reach for the eggnog, after you rip open the presents, when you’ve finished gearing up for visits from the family and friends, take a few minutes to look over some of the best work JJIE has generated this year. Starting tomorrow and continuing throughout the week we are posting compelling pieces that ran in 2011. These stories are rich with details about some of the most important issues dealing with youth today, from homelessness, to drug abuse, to sexuality, to juvenile crime. They are a sampling of our best work; which means they are not only well written, they get to the heart of what we do here at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. They, in short, are stories of young people and the challenges, heartbreaks and joys they face every day.