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Juvenile Justice News

Get Tough’ Then Another Positive Supreme Court Decision Drops

Does anyone want the rest of their life defined by what they did at 14? I don’t think so, and neither does our Supreme Court.We have come a long way since the first juvenile court in 1899. I have compared our juvenile justice journey to a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, and to the frustrations of piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.

Give Juveniles Their Due

During the summer of 1964, 15-year-old Gerald Gault was accused of making obscene phone calls to a neighbor. Gault, who was on probation at the time, was quickly arrested and put in a juvenile detention center without his parents ever being notified.

Harnessing data and information can lead to a better youth justice system

A bipartisan consensus has emerged in Congress and state legislatures on the need to focus on finding ways to reduce the over 2 million people in our prisons and jails and make our communities safer. With 18 to 24-year-olds making up roughly one in five people incarcerated in America’s prison and jails — about half of whom are people of color — reducing the number of these young adults locked up is a necessary step towards enhancing public safety.

House bill could lock teens up for more than a decade

Last month, the House of Representatives approved a bill that has the potential to lock up teens for more than a decade. The effort goes against a growing push to change the justice system nationwide so that kids — the country's most vulnerable — aren't robbed of chances at reform or treated as adults in the system.

House Judiciary Committee Reauthorizes Federal Juvenile Justice Block Grants

House lawmakers say the reauthorization of a major grant program could encourage more federal funding for juvenile justice programs. The House Judiciary Committee approved today by voice vote legislation (HR 68)to reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program, which lapsed in 2009 and has received no funding since 2013. 

House Panel Approves Bills on Juvenile Justice, Missing Children

A House panel on Tuesday advanced two bills with bipartisan support aimed at improving the welfare of missing and exploited children and reforming the juvenile justice system. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the bills with minor amendments and without any dissent or debate, advancing them by a voice vote.

House, Senate Take Different Paths on Proposed Juvenile Justice Funding

Reformers are dismayed by a proposed House spending bill that would eliminate funding for several major juvenile justice programs next year. The House bill is in sharp contrast to corresponding Senate legislation, which would increase juvenile justice spending slightly compared with current levels. 

How an Innocent Teenager Confessed to Murder

Davontae Sanford was released Wednesday from prison after serving nine years for a murder to which he confessed, but the state now doubts he committed. Sanford is 23, but was 14 when he said he’d killed four people inside a Detroit home. He is blind in one eye because someone had thrown an egg at him when he was nine. As a teenager, he was enrolled in special-education classes. He lived in a rough part of Detroit and tried to fit in by claiming to be part of a gang, or bragging about fights he’d never had. Sanford was an unlikely suspect. So it made more sense when another man, a Detroit contract killer named Vincent Smothers, confessed to the crime in 2008. 

How to Reduce Juvenile Crime: Use Separate Courts

As budget-strapped state legislatures seek ways to spend taxpayer dollars more effectively and efficiently, a growing number of states are turning to a solution that, until relatively recently, was assumed to be a budget buster: shifting delinquent youth from adult prisons and courts back to the juvenile-justice system, where they belong.

IDAHO: Idaho prison officials look for place to put teen killer

An Idaho teen has been sentenced to spend the next 20 years in an adult prison, forcing correction officials to look across the country to find a safe place for the 16-year-old to do his time. Eldon Samuel III was just 14 when he shot to death his drug-addicted father and then shot, stabbed and hacked to death his autistic younger brother in their northern Idaho home.

ILLINOIS: Legislature OKs bill to keep more juvenile offenders out of adult court (Chicago Tribune)

Illinois' latest effort toward criminal justice reform has been heralded as a return to the state's roots as a pioneer in the treatment of juvenile offenders. State lawmakers on Sunday passed a bill that would reduce the number of juveniles automatically transferred to adult court. At issue was not whether juveniles can be tried as adults. Rather, it's whether a juvenile defendant should be allowed a hearing in front of a juvenile court judge who would consider factors such as background, mental capacity and culpability before deciding whether to send the youth to adult court.

ILLINOIS: President Preckwinkle applauds signing of Juvenile Justice Bill

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today hailed action by the governor in signing into law juvenile justice reform legislation she championed this year. HB 6291 sponsored by state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, which will take effect January 1, 2017, will reduce or eliminate mandatory five-year probation sentences for juveniles and reduce commitments to juvenile prison for drug crimes. Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, was Senate sponsor of the bill.

Immigrant kids can’t be detained without their day in court, 9th Circuit rules

The federal government can’t hold immigrant kids in detention without explaining their reasons in front of an independent judge, a federal appeals court said on Wednesday. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means non-citizen minors detained by authorities will maintain the right to have an immigration judge review the government’s reasons for keeping them in custody – a position the federal government argued against.

Imprisoned as Teens, Speaking Out as Free Men for Change in Juvenile System- Social Justice Solutions

Incarceration can be difficult for mature adults, but it can be irreversibly traumatic for adolescents. Two men who entered the Washington criminal justice system as boys, now free, promote rehabilitating youth through physical and educational programs, rather than incarceration in prison-like facilities.

In many states, black juveniles end up in adult court in high numbers

Warren Germain was 16 years old in 2011 when he was arrested on a burglary charge in Miami-Dade County, Florida. He’d already spent time in a juvenile residential program, so this time the prosecutor decided to try him as an adult.

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