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CFYJ Reports

Jailing Juveniles

Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America

Jailing Juveniles

A November 2007 report from the Campaign for Youth Justice, “Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America,” provides a summary of the risks that youth face when incarcerated in adult jails and a review of the limited federal and state laws protecting them. Every day in America, an average of 7,500 youth are incarcerated in adult jails. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has protected children in the justice system for more than three decades. Under the “Jail Removal” core protection, youth cannot be detained in adult jails except in limited exceptions and in those narrow circumstances the “Sight and Sound Separation” core protection prohibits contact with adults. However these protections do not apply to youth being tried in the adult criminal system.

The report “Jailing Juveniles” shows how difficult is it to keep children safe in adult jails. They have the highest suicide rates of all inmates in jails, as they are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility. Youth in adult jails are also at great risk of physical and sexual assault, as 21% and 13% of all substantiated victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in jails in 2005 and 2006 respectively, were youth under the age of 18 (surprisingly high since only 1% of jail inmates are juveniles). Congress could easily fix this problem by extending the protections of the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) that disallow the placement of children in adult jails to protect all children, no matter what court they are in – juvenile or adult.

Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution

Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution

Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution

In October 2007, the Campaign for Youth Justice released “To Punish a Few: Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution,” which provides a comprehensive analysis of the issue of youth tried as adults. Jolanta Juszkiewicz, Ph.D., authored this comprehensive report as a follow up to her earlier study, “Youth Crime/Adult Time: Is Justice Served?”. This report uses data collected for the Juvenile Defendants in Criminal Courts, Survey of 40 Counties, 1998 (JDCC) program sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. The JDCC was the most ambitious effort to capture information on the prosecution of juveniles as adults. This report presents a multi-faceted analysis to explore whether the intended purposes of the expansion of adult prosecution of youth were met in 1998 and whether the answers to that question would differ today.

The findings of this report add credence to those of innumerable other studies that (1) African-American youth were disproportionately caught in the net of adult prosecution and adjudication in most of the jurisdictions, when measured against their proportion of the general or arrested population and (2) a high proportion of youth were held in adult jails, and for many whose cases did not result in a conviction in adult court this was their only exposure to an adult facility. Other findings indicated that the filing mechanisms, particularly the statutory exclusion and to a lesser extent direct filing, were less successful in identifying those youth who were deemed to be inappropriate for juvenile court then the judicial waiver. Many youth whose cases were filed in adult court by these mechanisms were subjected to detention in adult jail only to have their cases be transferred back to the juvenile court system or otherwise thrown out of the adult system.

Perpetual Punishment: The Consequences of Adult Convictions for Youth

perpetual punishmentAn examination of the long-term consequences of adult conviction for a youth, including federal legislation barring access to federal programs (food stamps, public assistance, public housing, etc) as well as state legislation over criminal history anonymity, employment barriers and other essentials to becoming a productive citizen.

Return Them to Juvenile Court

return them to juvenile courtA criticism of the punitive dimensions of historic and recent policies that have placed juveniles in the criminal courts, this brief also describes rationales that better fit society's interests in strengthening juveniles to be well-adjusted youth, rather than risking their futures and society's interests with their incarceration as criminals.

Children Being Tried as Adults: Pre-Trial Detention Laws in the U.S.

children being tried as adultsA run-down of the pre-trial detention laws for each of the 51 jurisdictions in the United States (50 states plus the District of Columbia). Includes information on the negative effects of holding youth pre-trial in adult facilities.

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