Each year, approximately 95,000 youth are held in adult jails and prisons. While locked up as adults, children often face inhumane conditions including physical and sexual abuse, prolonged solitary confinement, and insufficient health and educational resources. While it is obvious that these conditions have immediate negative consequences, it is also crucial to acknowledge the long-term ramifications of incarcerating children as adults. Unfortunately for all involved, the collateral consequences of youth entering the adult justice system go far beyond those faced during incarceration.
Overview of Collateral Consequences By Rev. Rubén Austria, the founding Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth on the damaging effects that collateral consequences can have on youth that have gone through the adult criminal justice system.
Marcus grew up in the DC metropolitan area. At the age of 15, he participated in a car jacking and thought he got away with it, initially. Not surprisingly, given his age and what we know about teenaged brains—that their evolving development leads teens to be impulsive, seemingly invincible, and strongly influenced by their peers—it makes sense that Marcus failed to understand the ramifications of his actions.
Jabriera grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. When she was 16, she got into an argument with her grandmother. As Jabriera’s grandmother was disciplining her, Jabriera tried to get her off her. Jabriera left the house, and later that day her grandmother died of a heart attack because of the argument. She was tried as an adult for second degree murder, second degree assault and first degree assault.
Keela is the mother of an incarcerated youth in the adult prison system. Keela and her son moved to Anacostia in D.C. when her son was 14 years old. Anacostia is located in Ward 8 of D.C. which has a population composed of roughly 95% African-Americans and is also the most impoverished ward with about 51% of its children living in poverty. At 16 her son started hanging out with a different group of friends, and his grades started slipping. One day she received a phone call telling her that her son was arrested.
Juan grew up in Washington, D.C., in a section of town that is plagued by violence. His father was in and out of jail, so he grew up primarily with his mom and younger brother. He was never a “problem” child, and didn’t get into trouble until his mid-teens. At 16, police went into his home at night to arrest him for an armed robbery carjacking.