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Articles tagged with: Campaign for Youth Justice

Promising Findings of Louisiana Raise the Age Study

Brittany Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow Friday, 18 March 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country, Research & Policy

Raise the Age Logo 2

On February 1st the Louisiana legislature released a report supporting the need for, and impact of, raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. This report was commissioned by the legislature through Resolution No. 73 in 2015 and completed by The Institute for Public Health and Justice  at the Louisiana State University’s Health Science Center. The ultimate recommendation of this comprehensive report is that Louisiana should raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17 year old offenders. Louisiana remains one of nine states that fails to recognize that youth under 17 year olds should not be prosecuted automatically in the adult criminal justice system.
The three big findings that the report made are:
1) 17 year olds are developmentally different than adults and should be treated as such;
2) the Louisiana juvenile justice system has the capacity to manage and rehabilitate added 17 year old youth;
3) other state have found that raise the age impact has had substantially less of an impact on their systems than was predicted and Louisiana should be the same and may even have substantial fiscal savings

It further recommends that a five year comprehensive plan be developed to address a variety of issues specific to youth such as transition, community based interventions, services while in detention, and other ways to ensure that youth are rehabilitated and do not recidivate.

The report notes that the state of Louisiana has not reviewed the age of juvenile jurisdiction in more than 100 years. Due to the growth of the law, social science, and brain science it is important for Louisiana to raise the age to ensure that its juvenile justice system is not stuck in the past. “Louisiana’s successful juvenile justice reforms, and an overall decline in juvenile crime reflective of national trends, have opened up system capacity for raising the age that may not have previously existed.”
The report highlights current brain science on adolescents and specifically how 17 year olds are unable to consistently reason and make responsible decisions. Due to this increased awareness of how adolescent brains work, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have recognized that treating 17 year olds the same as adults is not appropriate. The data shows that 17 year olds are capable of change when rehabilitated and generally stop reoffending. Most delinquent behavior does not follow the youth into adulthood.

The effects of the adult system on youths are troubling because rates of juvenile recidivism rise when placed in adult facilities. Additionally, youth are subject to a variety of harms both physical and psychological when they are subject to adult courts and facilities. To address the issue of placing 17 year olds in adult facilities the report examined the capacity of existing juvenile facilities. The report found that on any given day only facilities are only 56% filled, “…it can be estimated that 258 beds could be available on any given day in Louisiana’s juvenile detention facilities.” The addition of 17 year olds would not cause the current facilities to be overburdened.
The Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR) has been a vital advocate for Raise the Age Reform and helping shepherd a bill into law. Raise the Age Louisiana Act, SB 324 will ensure that 17 year olds are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts. LCCR has reported that, “polling by LSU shows that 66% of Louisianans – a majority of both parties – believe that 17-year-olds should be included in the juvenile justice system.” On March 15, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has announced that he supports SB 324 and raising the age. Widespread support from Louisianans will ensure that legislators know that their constituencies want what is best both for communities and for adolescents, to raise the age.


For more information on how to get involved in Louisiana's reform efforts, follow us on Facebook and check out the links below:

LCCR

Full Text of SB 324

Report

Raise the Age Bills Flourish in 2016

Tuesday, 15 March 2016 Posted in 2016, Research & Policy

Written by: CFYJ policy intern Nils Franco

In five states, legislators and governors alike are calling for new action this year to allow 16- and 17-year-olds back into the juvenile justice system, where youth can receive much-needed, age-appropriate rehabilitative or educational services. In two more states, lawmakers recently proposed including young adults under 21 in the juvenile justice system.

In nine states across the country, the juvenile justice system has an unusual upper age limit – that is, the juvenile system entirely excludes youth after their 17th or even 16th birthday. No matter the crime an older child is accused of committing in these states, the state handles the case entirely in the adult justice system.

These counterproductive state-based policy changes occurred in the late 1990’s, and reform took root just a few years ago. Five states have raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to cover all ages under 18 in seven years. Connecticut started the trend in 2009, and Mississippi, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New Hampshire followed in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively. This year, with a strong basis for action, so-called “Raise the Age” reform seems to be spreading quickly.

Lawmakers in five of the remaining nine states – Louisiana, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, and South Carolina – have proposed legislation to bring 16- and 17-year-olds back under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system.

In Connecticut, the same governor who oversaw the state’s 2009 Raise the Age reform now calls to further expand juvenile jurisdiction up until a young adult’s 21st birthday. In Illinois, which also implemented Raise the Age reform, a four-committee hearing on raising the age further to 21 prompted Rep. Laura Fine to sponsor one bill to bring misdemeanor cases for young adults under age 21 to juvenile court, and another to bring all cases for adults under age 21 to the juvenile system.

After Louisiana Senator JP Morrell introduced Raise the Age legislation (SB 322) last week, Governor Edwards and Louisiana Chief Justice Johnson announced their support for the bill. Edwards included the bill in his 2016 legislative agenda, and Johnson argued favorably for the bill in her State of the Judiciary address. This reform comes after years of advocacy from a coalition of state-based groups, and after the state’s legislature asked Louisiana State University to study the problem last year. That report published in February and found that reform “would benefit public safety, promote youth rehabilitation, and create long-term savings.”

Governor Cuomo of New York (where juvenile jurisdiction ends after a youth’s 16th birthday) proposed Raise the Age language in his budget proposal and listed raising the age among his State of the State priorities for the coming year. Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizen’s Commission for Children of New York, hailed the governor’s advocacy, noting the state’s age-inappropriate jurisdictional age limit “increases recidivism and reduces the chance for youth to turn their lives around. We can and must do better for our youth and our communities.”

Reform also made its way to South Carolina, where Senate Bill 916, introduced by Democratic Senator Gerald Malloy, will raise the age to 18 and expand the rights of youth to have their case reviewed. That bill was recently referred to a subcommittee chaired by Malloy, who in February discussed past work to separate minors from adults in adult facilities. “We just have to keep changing minds,” Malloy remarked at a panel event.

Missouri’s legislature will also consider Raise the Age legislation among five other bills in both the state house and state senate. The Raise the Age bill, HB 1812, was introduced by Republican representative Ron Hicks. Hicks also successfully passed Jonathan’s Law, another CFYJ-supported bill, unanimously in the 2013 House session.

In Michigan, an impressive 20 bills introduced in this session of the House of Representatives would reform the transfer of youth to the adult criminal justice system. Taking a piecemeal approach, eight of these bills would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in the state from youths’ 17th birthday to their 18th birthday.

The editorial board of The Detroit News describes the bills as “an important step in the quest to reform Michigan’s criminal justice system.” Noting that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has not yet endorsed the package, the board reminds readers that “what Michigan has been doing in terms of juvenile justice is not working.” A similar editorial from the Battle Creek Enquirer calls Raise the Age “a rare issue that can unite Republican and Democratic lawmakers.”

Across Lake Michigan, Wisconsin legislators moved this year to capitalize on that rare bipartisan momentum, introducing bicameral legislation to stop sending first-time, nonviolent 17-year-old offenders automatically to the adult justice system.

This year’s reform opportunities offer states a unique ability to limit children’s needless exposure to trauma, abuse, and criminality in adult prisons and jails. The juvenile justice system offers youth the resources needed to overcome traumatic experiences and rehabilitate after committing an offense. 

Children have a particularly strong psychological capacity to learn from past decisions, if the opportunity is allowed. Creating more childhood trauma in a prison setting will do the opposite. Raise the Age legislation is therefore common sense: children cannot be funneled into the adult criminal justice system without long-term consequences to the youth, their communities, and to public safety.

Meanwhile, two remaining states – North Carolina, and Texas – are likely to introduce reforms in upcoming legislative sessions, especially as local organizations continue to underscore the unjust and counterproductive effects of nonstandard jurisdictional age limits.

On the other hand, Georgia’s legislature and governor have not yet acted or expressed interest in moving toward reform. In contrast with the leadership shown across the country by other states, Georgia’s leaders stand out in their inaction.

 

This article was updated on March 22nd to include new actions from Louisiana's legislature, governor, and chief justice.

After Louisiana Senator JP Morrell introduced Raise the Age legislation (SB 322) last week, Governor Edwards and Louisiana Chief Justice Johnson announced their support for the bill. Edwards included the bill in his 2016 legislative agenda. This reform comes after years of advocacy from a coalition of state-based nonprofits, and after the state’s legislature asked Louisiana State University to study the problem last year. That report published last month and finds that “Louisiana should strongly consider raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-old offenders. … This change would benefit public safety, promote youth rehabilitation, and create long-term savings.”

Judges Stress the Importance of Considering Trauma in Juvenile Cases

Brittany Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow Friday, 26 February 2016 Posted in 2016, Research & Policy

On February 23rd the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges brought together a panel of judges to speak about the judge’s role in creating communities of healing. Judge Karen Adam shared about the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study, which looks at childhood trauma indicators. The ACE Study have been able to link the number of childhood traumas a person experiences to risky and rule-breaking behavior and serious health problems.  By acknowledging trauma and engaging in training around creating trauma-responsive court rooms, judges can better sever juveniles and their families.

Judge Deborah Schumacher spoke about the unique issues concerning children who receive special education services or have special needs and their interactions with the court. Judge Schumacher discussed the challenges of placing children who have come into contact with the juvenile justice system but also have specific needs that cannot necessarily be met in typical rehabilitative settings. Noting that students with special-needs associate schooling with failure, Schumacher stressed that punishing these children for frustration just further compounds the problem. Judges must think creatively to effectively ensure that children with special education are rehabilitated and can function in the community.

Judge Richard Blake spoke about his experience as a tribal court judge. Judge Blake has focused on raising the graduation rate at the local high school by ensuring that the students who he sees in his court are in school. Juveniles’ probation officers focus on student attendance, grades, and behavior. Judge Blake spoke with students about the reasons that they were not attending or succeeding in school, and he worked with the school to create a better environment for all students.

Judge Darlene Byrne stressed the importance of a, “do no harm” mindset in working with juveniles in the court. Judge Byrne approaches every case differently depending on the needs of the child. Cases with dually involved youth require unique services and rehabilitation in order to ensure that courts address rather than ignore underlying trauma. Without addressing a child’s trauma, he or she will struggle to successfully exit the justice system.

The panel all agreed that juvenile judges can and should be a leading force in reforming and rethinking the way that juveniles are treated in the justice system. The ACEs study connects the central role of trauma on both heath and behavior. Considering trauma as a cause of delinquent behavior must be a consideration of all of those who are involved with children in the justice system, including prosecutors, judges, defense, corrections officers, service providers, and families. 

Millions in Budget Savings if Direct File Reformed in Florida, Analysis Finds

CFYJ policy intern Nils Franco Friday, 12 February 2016 Posted in 2016, Research & Policy

From safer communities to more efficient government, new research outlines the benefits of reforming direct file

Reforming Florida’s direct file system will improve public safety outcomes and help sustainably balance the budget, according to a new policy brief entitled “No Place for A Child.” Prosecutors in Florida transfer more youth to the adult criminal justice system, without any checks or balances, than in any other state in the country.

The new research came out the same morning the Florida senate moved forward on direct file reform legislation. On Thursday, Senate Bill 314 earned a second unanimous vote of support from the Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. The Republican subcommittee chairman thanked the researchers for their work after hearing from Floridian judges and advocates who support the bill.

The authors of the brief, researchers from the free market–oriented James Madison Institute and the Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice, gathered FY2010 data from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide unique insights into the fiscal and social impact of reining in direct file. Their research complements a recent website with specific stories of direct-file Florida youth.

Direct file – a unilateral transfer performed by prosecutors before any hearing or due process can occur – accounts for 98% of the state’s cases of minors in the adult system, which remarkably totaled more than 10,000 cases in the past five years. Ending or reforming the practice of direct file would allow youths’ cases to be more fairly considered by a judge for transfer, and would greatly reduce the total number of transferred youth in the state.

This decrease of youth in the adult system would move more children back to a system that focuses on rehabilitation, which is especially appropriate because both DOC and DJJ data suggest that direct-filed youth would pose a low risk in the juvenile justice system. In fact, the researchers use government risk assessment tools and find that if direct-filed youth were processed in the juvenile justice system, fully 87% would not be placed in secure detention.

Moreover, the policy brief finds that keeping direct file–eligible youth in the age-appropriate juvenile justice system would save the state $12.6 million in ten years, with annual savings accumulating annually just four years after the reform. The authors point out that placing youth in the adult system demonstrably harms rehabilitation; in their words, “the adult system sets children up to fail.” Nonetheless, another decade of the status quo would cost Floridian taxpayers more than $175 million dollars.

Similar to adults’ cases, almost all of children’s cases in Florida’s adult system end in plea bargains, the brief finds. When a plea deal or a sentencing decision leads to probation for youth, which occurred in 72% of children’s cases in FY2010, 53% of youth on probation ended up in prison, either for a felony (70%), or for a probation violation (30%).

Without access to the rehabilitative services offered by the juvenile system, the authors note, youth have no developmentally-appropriate guidance to reform their behavior. Poor outcomes with adult-system probation reflects near-certain causative evidence that placing children in the adult system significantly raises transferred youths’ recidivism rates.

The researchers call for reform of direct file after concluding that the practice negatively affects public safety, children’s mental health and potential to reform, and the state’s budget. Finding a way to offer more due process and rehabilitative opportunities for children, they say, will be “unambiguously positive” for the state, its government, and its young adults.

A direct link to the research is available here.

You can read more about the lives affected by direct file practices in Florida by visiting www.noplaceforachild.com.

 Chart of the fiscal impacts of direct file reform in Florida.

Important First Steps to End Solitary Confinement for Youth in Federal Prisons

Marcy Mistreet Tuesday, 26 January 2016 Posted in 2016, Federal Update

President Obama Takes Important First Steps to End Solitary Confinement for Youth in Federal Prisons

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

In a historic moment yesterday, President Obama used his executive authority to end the use of solitary confinement for youth in the federal prison system.

This action is incredibly important to the numerous youth who are prosecuted and sentenced as adults in the federal bureau of prisons each year.  Youth housed in adult facilities are often subject to solitary confinement as a perverse means of “protecting” them from the adult population; making the abuse even more egregious for this population. Citing a Department of Justice review of the overuse and abuse of solitary confinement by the federal bureau of prisons, Mr. Obama called upon our “common humanity” to end this torturous practice.

The 53 recommendations drawn by the Department of Justice will apply to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the US Marshalls Service, but also sends a strong message to states to create a less harmful environment for those in its care.  The recommendations state that youth under age 18 “shall not be placed in restrictive housing”.  They further state that in “very rare” circumstances when there is serious and immediate risk of injury to another person, a youth may be removed and placed in restrictive housing as a “cool down” period—but only in consultation with a mental health professional.  While the recommendations stop short of articulating a specific maximum length of time allowed in those “very rare circumstances”, the recommendations clearly state that youth under 18 don’t belong in isolation, period.

But the recommendations go farther, and include recommendations for youth ages 18-24 that include training all correctional staff on young adult brain development and de-escalation tactics; developmentally responsive policies and practices including therapeutic housing communities and services to reduce the number of incidents that could lead to restrictive housing; and call to limit the use of restrictive housing whenever possible, and if used, to limit the length of stay and to identify appropriate services they can receive while in restrictive housing.

These recommendations are important first steps to ending the use of solitary confinement for youth.  The harmful effects of solitary confinement are well documented.  Individuals subjected to such extreme deprivation, locked in isolation for 23 hours a day for weeks, months, and even years, are linked to devastating, long term psychological consequences including depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from other individuals.  For youth whose minds and bodies are still growing and developing, these consequences are amplified and too often lead to dire consequences including self-harm and suicide.  In fact, the Department of Justice found that youth in solitary commit suicide at twice the rate of adults; and other research has shown that youth in solitary in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than if they were housed in the juvenile justice system.

In his announcement, President Obama stated, “ We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives. And if we can give them the hope of a better future, and a way to get back on their feet, then we will leave our children with a country that is safer, stronger, and worthy o our highest ideals.”

While we certainly applaud President Obama for taking this momentous step forward, we urge him to take further actions to protect youth in federal custody, such as preventing them from being in adult facilities to begin with.  In 2012, the recommendations made by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, included the charge to abandon practices like solitary confinement, which traumatize children and reduce their opportunities to become productive members of society.  However, the report also makes recommendation 6.9, “Whenever possible, prosecute youth offenders in the juvenile justice system instead of transferring their cases to adult courts.”  We urge Mr. Obama to use his remaining time in office to implement this recommendation by “strengthening federal regulations and essentially prohibit states and localities from incarcerating any person younger than 18 in an adult prison or jail as a condition of federal funding.”

It is long past due that our country starts treating children like children. Ending the practice of placing youth held in federal prisons in solitary confinement is a critical step toward this broader goal.  Now isn’t it time to ask why children are sentenced to time in federal prison at all?

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere

Marcy Mistrett Sunday, 17 January 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

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By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

The anniversary of Rev Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday presents us with a call of action to get involved in local, state and federal campaigns to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth in the adult criminal justice system.

The injustices presented by youth being treated as adults in the criminal justice system are plentiful and continually positions the United States as an outlier in preserving the human rights of children. Several of the most egregious injustices include:
 
  • Treating children as though they are mini adults:  Research has proven that childrens’ brains handle decision-making, impulsivity, and causal relationships differently from adults.  Furthermore, they show great capacity to change. Not taking these differences into account is a gross injustice to our children.
  • Failing to provide children with appropriate protections at their arrest and during trial.  Children who are charged as adults are not afforded the protections of having their parents or guardians present during police interrogation.  Research has demonstrated that youth are much more likely to sign confessions, admit guilt, and feed law enforcement the answers that “they want” in order to go home. Despite having the greatest influence and support for their children, parents are often times left out of the equation which rehabilitation is considered.    
  • Treating children differently based on their race and ethnicity.  Children of color are much more likely to be prosecuted, sentenced and incarcerated as adults than their white counterparts.   These disparities are gross and unacceptable (African American youth are 9 times more likely to be sentenced to adult prison than white children for the same crimes; latino youth are 4 times more likely; and Tribal youth are nearly twice as likely).
  • Incarcerating children in adult facilities.  Children charged and sentenced as adults are housed in adult facilities.  They have very little access to developmentally appropriate education, mental health, substance abuse, or vocational services.  Rather, children are often held in solitary confinement to “protect” them from the adult population, isolating them 20-22 hours/day.
  • Punishing children the rest of their lives for poor decisions made in their childhood.  We know that a critical aspect of adolescence is learning to make good decisions; and having the opportunity to right the wrongs we make.  Children who are sentenced as adults carry their conviction the rest of their lives. 

For the past decade, the Campaign for Youth Justice has partnered with states, advocates, and impacted youth and families to challenge these practices.  We have seen the impact that unified voices can have in challenging injustices.  In fact, in the past ten years, 30 states have changed nearly 50 laws making it more difficult to prosecute, sentence and incarcerate children in the adult criminal justice system.

As we enter the 2016 legislative session, we encourage you to get involved in the local, state or federal campaigns that challenge this practice.  Legislation has already been introduced in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and South Carolina.  We expect several other states to introduce legislation in upcoming weeks to decrease the number of youth entering the adult criminal justice system.  We can only change these laws if communities are willing to stand for justice, and we need your help.

There are many ways to take a stand against injustice:

  • Sign on to your local campaign’s listserve to stay abreast of progress;
  • Call or tweet policymakers to show your support for reform;
  • Leverage your networks to learn more about this issue—host a discussion in your home, or community center, or house of faith to share with others the injustices being harbored against our youth;
  • Raise your voice in support—offer to write op eds or letters to the editor to call on policymakers to do what is right for children.

Justice is a fight well worth fighting for.  In the great words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  We hope to gain your support during this legislative session. For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Giving Thanks

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 26 November 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

Gratitude

As I reflect on the upcoming holidays, I am struck by how much gratitude is shared among juvenile justice reformers.

  • For the young people who courageously and repeatedly share their very personal stories in public—on paper, in the news, through blogs, in tweets, on panels and through imagery and artwork.  Your truth—often raw and trauma filled-- and yet, always hopeful about the possibility that tomorrow might be different.  Grateful that you have courage that most adults would never have nor be expected to share; you are changing the dialogue.
  • For the legislators who say “we are better than this”—and who make bold policy step--whether that is raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 21; calling for the end of solitary confinement for our young people; or committing to end the racial disparities that are so pervasive in our ‘just-us’ systems. Thank you; doing what’s right is often more important than what is possible.
  • To the family members who show up. Again and again. To labor through another legislative session; another promise for bipartisan reform; another year of trying to make children a legislative priority. While their own children sit, behind bars, far away from family support, hugs, and holidays. Grateful that you keep fighting when we know how tired you must be.
  • To the system administrators, and judges, and law enforcement who stand against the tide and remind us that these are OUR children.  For not taking away family visits as punishment; for pushing to close facilities knowing children need to be raised in families and communities; for citing “love” as a policy goal; for a willingness to turn over power; for acknowledging that harm is being done, we give you thanks. 
  • To the philanthropists who take risks, fund innovation, push for documentation and research. Who fund the unpopular and risky; that invest in tomorrow with dollars today. Who use their platforms to call for the closure of youth prisons; or transformative justice; or ending the practice of criminalizing children. We are grateful that you fill gaps; shout loudly; study, educate, and learn.
  • To the advocates—who never rest, who are often unsung heroes, behind the scenes tinkering. Who fight boldly and strategically to make the world better for our children and communities. Who think outside the box, who build from the community up and educate from policymakers down.  Who turn one dollar into fifty; and who achieve the “unbelievable.”  We are grateful for your impatience, unwillingness to compromise for children, for tolling the moral line, and reminding us all that these children are OUR future.

Honored to work among you—in this short year alone, on the one issue of removing youth from the adult criminal justice system you have introduced more than 20 bills, changed 7 state laws, educated hundreds of policymakers, moved the national dialogue, championed 13 bipartisan supporters on a federal bill, changed thousands of youth lives, made a difference. #Gratitude.

Marcy Mistrett
CEO
Campaign for Youth Justice

 

Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems

Council of State Governments Justice Center Tuesday, 24 November 2015 Posted in 2015, Research & Policy

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has just released Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems, an issue brief designed to help state and local officials better support young adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Research has shown that young adults ages 18 to 24 stand out as a distinct developmental group with heightened impulsive behavior, risk taking, and poor decision making; and many young adults are disconnected from school and work. These factors increase the odds that a young adult might come into contact with the justice system. Of course, the majority of young adults are not involved in any criminal activity, and those young adults who have committed a crime most often have committed a minor offense. Still, young adults drive a disproportionately large share of criminal justice activity and therefore should be an important focus of juvenile and adult justice systems alike. 

This issue brief describes young adults’ distinct needs and summaries the limited research available on what works to address these needs. In addition, recommendations are provided for steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes for these young people. For more information about the brief or the CSG Justice Center’s work on young adults, please contact Emily Morgan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard

Thursday, 19 November 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

NEW REPORT: Overwhelming Majority of States Allow Youth to be Housed in Adult Prisons

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CFYJ released a new report today, Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard. This report explores how states house youth under 18 in prisons in the new age of PREA compliance and enforcement. Furthermore, this report highlights national trends in juvenile arrests, crimes, and incarceration of children in the adult system.

The United States’ extraordinary use of adult correctional facilities to house youth presents numerous concerns, including serious, long-term costs to the youth offender and to society at large. Science and research conducted over the last 20 years confirm what common sense tells us: kids are different. Adolescent development and adolescent brain research have prompted leaders across the country to start looking at our juvenile justice system through a developmentally appropriate lens.1 Such a perspective equally applies to the treatment of youth who would be eligible for adult prison sentences. In light of the decline of youth arrests and youth crime, coupled with the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) the housing status of the 1200 youth under 18 years of age in the adult prison must be investigated. Each state has its own unique prison system, so in order to determine the housing status of youth we gathered information on each state’s statutes, policies, and practices for housing the shrinking — and at times — invisible, population of youth in adult prisons across the country.

Despite the strong language provided in the Prison Rape Elimination Act, state laws vary widely as to the regulations and parameters for housing youth in adult prisons. In fact, some states have no regulations or parameters governing the treatment of youth sentenced as adults at all. While some states have fully removed youth from their prison systems — Hawaii, West Virginia, Maine, California, and Washington — the overwhelming majority of states allow youth to be housed in adult prisons. In fact 37 states housed youth under 18 years of age in their state prisons in 2012. The PREA requirements have become the emerging standard of care for the housing of youth in adult facilities, yet the majority of states still permit the housing of youth in adult facilities, often times with no special housing protections. Once youth are sentenced in adult court to an adult prison term, few jurisdictions have enacted safeguards to protect their physical, mental and emotional health. Additionally, programs and behavioral responses in adult facilities rarely are adjusted to meet the needs of adolescent populations.

Link To Full Report
Link To Executive Summary

Also please help us spewad the word on social media:

Twitter:

-        CFYJ’s latest report explores how states house youth in prisons in the new age of PREA compliance and enforcement http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ launches a new report: “Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard” http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Despite PREA regulations, the majority of states still permit the housing of youth in adult facilities, highlights CFYJ’s new report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        According to CFYJ’s latest report, the number of youth incarcerated in the adult prison system has decreased 70% since 2000 http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s new report finds that youth of color are placed in adult facilities at much higher rates than their white peers http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Youth housed in adult prisons face higher risks for sexual abuse, physical force or threat of force, says CFYJ’s latest report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s new report once again exposes the consequences of sending youth to adult prison: recidivism, abuse and suicide http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Florida is the state with the highest population of juveniles in prison, according to CFYJ’s latest report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Youth in adult prisons recidivate 34% more often than youth in the juvenile system, reminds CFYJ’s new report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s latest report once again shows that youth in the adult system commit suicide at greater rates http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

Facebook:

-        CFYJ just released a brand new report, “Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard”, which explores how states house youth under 18 in prisons in the new age of PREA compliance and enforcement. The report highlights that despite the official implementation of PREA, the majority of states still permit the housing of youth in adult facilities and/or refuse to comply. Youth housed in adult prison face greater risk of physical abuse and suicide than youth in juvenile facilities. http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s latest report, “Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard”, once again shows the disastrous consequences of incarcerating youth in adult facilities. Youth in adult prisons recidivate 34% more often than youth in the juvenile system. Youth of color are the first targets of this system and are much more likely to be placed in adult facilities than their white peers. http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

Youth in Adult System at Highest Risk of Early Death

Nils Franco, CFYJ Intern Tuesday, 17 November 2015 Posted in 2015, Research & Policy

Written by Nils Franco, CFYJ Intern

Mortality rates at each stage of the juvenile justice system compared with transferred youth and the general population
A new study calls for preventive approaches on youth crime after examining mortality rates for youth offenders. The study finds that long-term early mortality rates are highest among youth in the adult criminal justice system.

The article, published Thursday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examines mortality under the scope of various socioeconomic factors and the severity of justice-system involvement – for instance, whether the youth was tried as an adult or simply arrested.

The study is the largest-scale effort to examine the link between the severity of involvement and youth offender mortality rates. Across race and gender, youth at each higher level of involvement have a greater mortality rate in the time span studied.

To obtain these findings, the study’s authors tracked the records of almost 50,000 youth offenders (that is, people arrested under the age of 18) in Marion County, Indiana, over the course of more than a decade. Of the sample of youth offenders, 518 died during the study period. The most common causes of death for these deceased – homicide, suicide, and overdose – are indicative of troubles that haunt young offenders into adulthood.
 The causes of death among arrested, detained, incarcerated, or transferred youth.

The authors broke up their sample into four groups: youth who were only arrested, youth detained pre-trial but never incarcerated, youth incarcerated in the juvenile system, and youth transferred to the adult system. Overall, these young offenders’ mortality rates measured 48% higher than the rates of the general community over the study period.

With each increment in justice-system involvement, mortality rates increased: mortality rates for youth detained pre-trial measured 83% higher than arrested youth, incarcerated youth mortality measured 140% higher than arrested youth mortality, and transferred youth mortality rates measured 247% higher than the rates of arrested youth.

The study corroborates another disturbing trend in racial disparity: black youth represent 47% of Marion County’s youth arrests, though only 28% of the county is black. That disparity grows at each level of involvement, from 47% in arrests, to 52% in pre-trial detention, to 58% in juvenile prison, to 68% in transfers to the adult court. Notably, adult-system involvement represents the greatest jump in the gap between black youth and white youth.

The proportion of youth who are black in each stage of the juvenile justice system compared with the general population.

The limited data prevents the study’s authors from drawing conclusions about the role of the justice system’s treatment of youth in these outcomes, but the authors still call for more evidenced-based practices to lower crime and improve violence prevention services for youth in detention centers. Past studies have suggested a causative link between sentencing youth to adult prison and future criminal behavior.

 

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