Juvenile Offenders that Work Long Hours and Skip School More Likely to Engage in Antisocial Behavior

A new study published in the journal Child Development finds that adolescents that eschew school for employment are more likely to be associated with antisocial behaviors than peers that either work less hours or focus solely on schooling. Researchers, over a five year window, examined the relationship between work hours and school attendance in a sample of almost 1,300 juvenile offenders. The study, conducted by researchers from Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, Irvine states that teens that work long hours while simultaneously attending high school classes were more likely to engage in antisocial behavior than classmates that had less work hours or did not work at all. In particular, researchers noted an apparent connection between high-intensity employment – categorized as more than 20 hours per week—and greater likelihoods of teens fostering antisocial behavior, such as bullying and vandalism. Teens that attended school regularly, without working, were found to demonstrate the least amount of antisocial behavior, while teens that worked long hours and did not attend classes regularly were found to be the likeliest adolescents to engage in antisocial activities.

Success in Juvenile Justice Diversions May Influence Treatment of Adult Offenders in Florida

In October, officials in one Florida community announced that its local police force would now have the ability to issue civil citations in lieu of formal arrests for certain crimes. The Leon County, Fla., measure targeting a largely adult-offender base takes many cues from the state’s juvenile justice system, which has seen vast improvements to juvenile crime rates due to lock-up alternatives. According to the News Service of Florida  proponents of a statewide movement issue more citations to and arrest fewer adult offenders – if the individual has committed a non-violent crime and has no previous arrest record — claim that such a policy would save the state tens of millions of dollars in annual incarceration expenses. Tentative plans would require adult offenders in Leon County – which contains the state capital of Tallahassee – to undergo an assessment within three days of a citation, in addition to performing community service or receiving substance abuse treatment if it may have been a contributing factor to the crime. Leon County officials began issuing civil citations for non-violent juvenile offenders in 1995.

Juvenile Offenders in Limbo under Outdated State Laws

More than two years after U.S. Supreme Court decisions started throwing out mandatory death and life sentences for minors, judges in Washington, Illinois and dozens of other states still lack guidance on what to do with juveniles past and present convicted of murder and some other serious felonies. “Courts are uncomfortable in trying to figure out what ‘life’ means in terms of years,” said Kimberly Ambrose, senior law lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law. She represented Guadalupe Solis-Diaz at the state’s Court of Appeals, arguing against a 92-year sentence he’s serving for six counts of first-degree assault and other charges for his role in a drive-by shooting. The then 16-year-old Solis-Diaz fired into a crowd in Centralia, Wash., in 2007, though did not injure his target or anyone else. It’s not clear in Washington if those 92 years are equivalent to what the U.S. Supreme Court calls “life” sentences.

Mississippi Joins 38 Other States, Raises Juvenile Age to Eighteen

An amended law that took effect July 1 made Mississippi the latest state to rethink how youth under the age of 18 are handled in criminal court. The new measure prevents most 17-year-old misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenders from being tried as adults. Certain felonies including rape, murder and armed robbery may still warrant charges in the adult court system. Two other states, Connecticut and Illinois, passed similar reforms earlier this year bringing the national total to 39 states that view juveniles as any individual below the age of 18, according to a report issued last week by the Campaign for Youth Justice. “This is a good news report.” Liz Ryan, director of the Campaign for Youth Justice, — a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focused on the issue — told USA Today.

Boys of Color in Harm's Way

“Negative health outcomes for African-American and Latino boys and young men are a result of growing up in neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage, places that are more likely to put boys and young men directly in harm’s way and reinforce harmful behavior.” That’s the key finding from the report entitled: “Healthy Communities Matter: The Importance of Place to the Health of Boys of Color.” The report, which is filled with facts and figures and underwritten by The California Endowment, finds:

When it comes to health and other outcomes, the odds for boys and men of color are more than two times worse than they are for white boys and men in California. African-American and Latino children are 3.5 times more likely to grow up in poverty than their white counterparts. In fact, nearly half of the nation’s African-American and Latino fourth graders attend schools that are characterized by extreme poverty.

House Passes Time-Served Bill for Juvenile Offenders

Children who are locked up in detention centers while waiting for court dates may get credit for time served under a bill that has passed in the Georgia House.  HB 1144 would require the state to treat juvenile offenders the same way it treats adults. Sponsors call it a “fairness issue as well as a budget issue”.  If it passes in the Senate, the plan will free up beds in the juvenile justice system, and allow the state to cut some costs. AJC.com
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