plea bargaining: Female attorney addressing an African American judge in court

The Contrariness of Plea Bargaining in Juvenile Courts

Some things I just don’t get.

I get it that the fastest runner doesn’t always win the race and the strongest doesn’t always win the battle. I get it that chance can decide outcomes. And when chance is the deciding factor, it seems unfair to the fastest and the strongest, but welcome to the underdog.

Man skateboards past billboards about new condos.

Can Washington State Keep Youth Off the Streets After They Leave Detention?

By the age of 17, David Vanwetter had been in and out of detention perhaps a dozen times.
Washington state is vowing to keep young people like Vanwetter — often with complicated and troubled lives — from becoming homeless after they exit the jailhouse door. The state Legislature has ambitiously pledged to stop releasing youth from “publicly funded systems of care” — juvenile detention, foster care and mental health and drug treatment — into homelessness by the end of 2020. And that doesn’t mean putting them in a cab to a homeless shelter: Youth must have “safe and stable housing,” the law says.

Ben Chambers On What Juvenile Courts Should Know about Trauma and Delinquency

It’s not a secret that many youth in juvenile court struggle with symptoms related to trauma, but it can be hard to remember in court, when faced with a defiant youth who’s been repeatedly delinquent. So it’s great to see a new publication from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 10 Things Every Juvenile Court Judge Should Know about Trauma and Delinquency.(Even though it seems to be aimed only at judges, it’s useful for all staff who work with or in juvenile court.)

Scoff at the idea that trauma could be related to breaking the law? Here’s a telling observation from the publication:
It does not go unnoticed by youth when their safety and well-being is not addressed but their delinquent behavior is. These kinds of paradoxes and frustrations can increase the likelihood that youth will respond defiantly and with hostility to court and other professionals who are in positions of authority. System professionals would benefit from recognizing that imposing only negative or punitive consequences will likely do little to change the youth’s patterns of aggression, rule breaking, and risky behaviors because such a response does not address the impact of traumatic stress on the child.