Young People a Focus for Anti‑fascism, Anti-Trump Movement

It was a school night and well past Joshua Vega’s bedtime when most of the world learned that Donald Trump had won the 2016 election and would become the 45th president of the United States. The then-third grader said he didn’t get the news until the next morning when he asked his grandmother for permission to use her phone to look up the election results.

Pondering the Limits of Criminal Justice Reform

On Monday I spoke via Skype with a group of students enrolled at Georgetown University. Some friends of mine teach a class on social justice and conflict studies. Twice I have joined the class to discuss my own experiences with the criminal justice system, restorative justice, my current work, and any other insightful (and difficult) questions they come up with. Several wondered how prison could be changed to address issues of safety and violence, and whether or not restorative responses still allowed for incarceration. These are interesting topics to me, and I am able to talk about them with ease, but a few questions left me pondering the limits of criminal justice reform.

Considering the Eighth Amendment and Juveniles

A New York Times story examines the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future taking up the question of whether a life sentence for a killing committed by a juvenile constitutes a violation of the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. A year ago, the high court ruled such sentences did violate the Eighth Amendment in cases not involving a killing. According to the story by Adam Liptak and Lisa Faye Petak, such a decision would affect some 2,500 prisoners.  

OxyContin Abuse Plagues Ohio

Ohio is struggling with a severe prescription drug abuse epidemic, according to a story in The New York Times. In the last decade, fatal overdoses surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the state. Most popular among drug addicts is the painkiller OxyContin.  Read more about the devastating effects of prescription drugs and OxyContin abuse in Prescribed Addiction, the first in our ongoing series, Journeys.  

States Reconsider Laws That Force Kids Into the Adult Justice System

A new study by the Campaign for Youth Justice reports that states across the country are reversing legislation that is pushing 250,000 kids a year into the adult justice system. Following a spike in juvenile crime in the 1980’s and 1990’s, many states began lowering the age that children could be prosecuted as an adult.  According to the study, incarcerating youth in adult prisons, “puts them at higher risk of abuse, injury, and death while they are in the system, and makes it more likely that they will reoffend once they get out.”

Fifteen states have already completed the changes necessary to put fewer kids in adult prisons and nine more have legislation in the works.  Georgia (along with Colorado, Texas and Washington) has updated its mandatory minimum sentencing laws for juveniles. However, Georgia is still holding on to a law that automatically transfers children aged 13 and older who commit one of the “seven deadly sins” to adult court.  Offenses include murder, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery,  voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery with a firearm.

A Sad Tale of Sexting

See this story in Sunday’s New York Times of 14-year-old Margarite’s mistake in 2010 that led to her own humiliation and altered the lives of so many around her.

States Roll Back Prosecuting Teens as Adults

An era of prosecuting juveniles as adults may be coming to an end in numerous states as criminal justice officials face a growing recognition that many underage offenders have been mishandled in the adult system, details a story in Sunday’s New York Times. While states from Connecticut to Wisconsin have started to roll back the generation’s old policies, many other states remain resistant to the change, citing the higher cost of adding more people to the juvenile systems at a time of crushing budget problems, says the paper.

New Interactive Mapping Tool Shows Who Your Neighbors Are

If you’re looking for something to think about over the holidays, this could be it. The New York Times has used Census Bureau data to map out the distribution of racial and ethnic groups across the country. You can literally put in your zip code and see the breakdown in your town. You can even scroll your mouse over different areas to see detailed percentages. This could be useful to schools, police departments, juvenile courts and those who may be interested in the disproportionate minority contact problem facing the nation.