Day Two: John Jay Juvenile Justice Conference

NEW YORK – The John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice is holding a two-day conference for journalists on its campus in New York Monday and Tuesday. While the conference, Kids Behind Bars, Where’s the Justice in America’s Juvenile Justice System?, is primarily meant for journalists, many of the topics will be of interest not only to those in the field, but the general public as well. JJIE/Youth Today’s John Fleming and Clay Duda are attending the conference and continue their reporting today. For Day One coverage head over to our post here. DAY TWO

Panel One:

Mike Bocian, provided the keynote address Tuesday morning.

Arkansas Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blueprint for National Success?

In 1991, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an article on the state’s juvenile justice system bearing the ominous headline “Stacked in centers, youths in trouble fall through the cracks.” The story also featured comments from a consultant, who said  –  two years prior  –  “too many youths who could better be served in community-based treatment were being inappropriately and unnecessarily held in state confinement.”

Over the next seven years, matters only worsened for the state’s juvenile justice system. In 1998, The Democrat-Gazette published a five-part series entitled “Juvenile Justice: The War Within” detailing the failings of the state’s juvenile incarceration sites. Three years after the series was published, two juveniles at the Alexander Youth Services Center – the state’s largest juvenile incarceration facility – committed suicide within a span of six months. A year later, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice conducted an investigation of the facility, determining that the conditions at Alexander were so substandard that the constitutional rights of detained youth were being violated. By 2007, state officials decided it was time to completely overhaul Arkansas’ juvenile justice system, culminating with the enactment of state Senate Resolution 31, which authorized a comprehensive study with the intent of reducing “reliance on large juvenile correctional facilities” within the state.

Heading to Court. Pademba Central Prison. Freetown, Sierre Leone.

African Children in Prison: An Introduction

There is no qualifying the corners of human suffering around the globe. It is all bad, from massacre sites, to famine zones. Still, if you consider just how dark the outlook for a human can be on God’s green Earth, observe the work in West Africa of the Spanish photographer Fernando Moleres. Few places in the world hold the level of hopelessness of an African prison, for the most part vortexes that may release a human but never the human spirit. Now imagine a prison in a failed state in Africa.

Chicago’s Cease Fire Making a Difference in Lives of Youth

Earlier this week, PBS’s Frontline aired The Interrupters, a documentary by director Steve James. James, best known perhaps for Hoop Dreams, spent a year filming in Chicago. He documented the efforts of Cease Fire, an organization that works to reduce and prevent gang violence in some of the most deadly parts of the city. The film highlights the model developed by Cease Fire. It is an approach to youth violence and crime in general that deserves more attention.

Planet Connect Offers Grants to High Schoolers

Planet Connect is offering high school students grants of $1,000 to implement their problem-solving projects and participate in a local internship focused on wildlife conservation. Winners will be provided $500.00 to turn their projects into reality. After completing their projects in June, winners will participate in an 80-hour wildlife conservation or natural resource internship in their local community during the summer of 2012.  At the end of the internship they will be awarded a $500.00 stipend.