Nisha Ajmani

U.S. Should Adhere to Global Standards in How We Treat Our Youth

The U.S. has a shameful record in its treatment of justice-involved youth. While recent Supreme Court decisions are promising, this country has much work left to do in handling young people in contact with the justice system.

Mark Werner

OP-ED: Why Do We Need to Do This Work?

When it comes to dual status youth — youth involved with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems — our work reforming the juvenile system is far from complete.

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the members of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice, created in part to address raising the age of criminal responsibility.

The Two Sides of Raise the Age in New York

It was the tail-end of rush hour on a Thursday in March, and commuters were packed tightly onto a Brooklyn bus in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Not all of them got out alive.

Up From the Depths: Juvenile Offenders Who Turned Their Lives Around

The hardliner prosecutor teaching a law course in a women’s maximum-security prison in Tennessee got to know inmates as real people rather than just paperwork. It changed his life so much he quit his job as a prosecutor, saying he could no longer be complicit in a system that warehoused for decades people who committed crimes as teenagers. The woman who managed an art gallery in a small Pennsylvania town always considered herself a big believer in law and order — and couldn’t imagine befriending a man serving life without parole on a first-degree murder conviction. Then somebody brought some of the inmate’s artwork to her gallery, and she contacted him. Today, she calls him a son, and he calls her “Mom.”
The former Chicago gang member convicted of first-degree murder for his involvement in a fatal stabbing and beating that took place when he was 13 now has a master’s degree, has counseled countless troubled kids and is a youth justice advocate fighting extreme sentencing of juveniles.