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Juvenile justice

There has been a troubling shift in the nation’s responses to at-risk youth over the past 25 years. The creators of the juvenile justice system originally viewed it as a system for providing prevention, protection, and redirection to youth, but it is more common for juveniles today to experience tough sanctions and adult-type punishments instead. While reforms are underway in many places, there remains an urgent need to reframe our responses to juvenile delinquency.

Juveniles Held in Adults Prisons and Jails

Juvenile Justice News
October 1, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
Momentous Legislation Indicates "Tough on Crime" Days are Over

Today, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are coming together to end a disastrous era of "tough on crime" politics. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, introduced today by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), takes a number of steps forward to reverse harsh penalties that have come at a ruinous cost to families and taxpayers while producing diminishing returns for public safety.

September 14, 2015
Race & Justice News: Supreme Court to review Georgia death penalty case for racial bias

Reforms: Policing and Municipal Courts in Ferguson and Missouri

Stop and Frisk in Chicago 

ABA-LDF Joint Statement on Eliminating Bias in the Criminal Justice System 

Persistent Racial Disparities Following Marijuana Reforms in Miami-Dade and Seattle 

School Discipline: Students of Color More Likely to Receive Harsh Response to Misbehavior 

Racial Disparities in School Discipline in Southern States 

Advocacy and Reforms in Miami-Dade, Texas, and Compton 

Youth Justice: Justice Department Finds Racial Bias in St. Louis County Youth Courts 

Death Penalty: Constitutional Concerns with Executions in Lousiana, Colorado, and Georgia 

July 1, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Alabama and Texas Address Lifetime Federal Public Benefits Ban



Efforts to reinstate federal ban in other states: Pennsylvana, Missouri, and Maine

Other news: Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Virginia

In recent months there has been legislative reform to modify the federal food stamp ban in states like Alabama and Texas. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) imposed a lifetime denial of federal benefits for cash and food assistance to people convicted in state or federal courts of felony drug offenses; the ban is imposed for no other offenses but drug crimes. States can opt out of the federal ban or modify it by authorizing legislative reform. States that have not authorized a legislative remedy include Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. During 2014, Missouri modified the federal ban and California opted out of the full ban.

June 18, 2015
Race & Justice News: Connecticut Struggles to Reform Drug-Free-Zone Law

Reforms: Connecticut Struggles to Reform Drug-Free-Zone Law » GO

JJDPA Reauthorization Would Require Reductions in Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Policing: Minneapolis Police Disproportionately Enforce Low-Level Offenses Among People of Color

Black Drivers in Missouri 75% More Likely to be Stopped Than Whites

Incarceration: Nearly Half of Black Women Have a Family Member in Prison

School-to-Prison Pipeline: Black Students Disproportionately Arrested in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish

June 16, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
The time is now to raise the age of criminal responsibility

In an open letter hand-delivered to Albany, The Sentencing Project and sixty other organizations, including international human rights groups, social workers, faith-based organizations, criminal justice reform groups, and children's advocates, strongly urged the passage of Raise the Age legislation in New York before the session ends this week.

Currently, New York remains one of only two states that still prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds in the justice system as adults. New York also houses 16- and 17-year-olds in adult jails and prisons, where they are at grave risk of suicide, rape, and physical abuse, and often do not receive appropriate services.

With days remaining until  the 2015 legislative session ends, it is imperative that there be no further delay in raising the age. The letter describes the horrific risks faced by youth incarcerated as adults, the collateral consequences of prosecuting children as adults, and evidence from other states that raising the age has proven to increase public safety.