Juvenile Justice Reform
- Courts making strides in protecting children, vulnerable adults (Lincoln Journal Star)
Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican thanked lawmakers for passing legislation last session to enhance the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, which is designed to keep children involved in the juvenile justice system from becoming repeat offenders. The project aims to keep children from being jailed while they receive services or treatment.
- Changes made in laws affecting youths (Midland Daily News)
It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court. “The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”
- Almost 50 percent fewer youth arrested in Florida schools (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
The number of youth arrested in Florida’s public schools declined 48 percent in the past eight years, from more than 24,000 to 12,520, according to a study released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The decline corresponds with a downward trend in juvenile delinquency in all categories across the state.
- Building their future: Youth offenders learn woodworking, life skills in lockup (Waco Tribune-Herald)
In a small shop building at the state youth lockup in Mart, teenage boys who have gotten into trouble with the law are learning woodworking skills that officials hope can be put to good use for the community.
- Best Of 2012: Juvenile Justice Desk (Youth Radio)
In 2012, Youth Radio's Juvenile Justice Desk followed some major changes to youth sentencing in California and the nation.
Some juveniles who commit delinquent acts truly learn from their actions and are able to turn their lives around. For juveniles who have reached this level of rehabilitation, it is important that their past mistakes don’t stand in their way of living productive, law abiding lives.
Michigan recently enacted legislation that would allow rehabilitated youths convicted of three or fewer misdemeanors or certain felonies to seal their records after completing their sentence. Prior to this legislation, only first-time misdemeanants could seal their records in Michigan.
This measure is important to ensure that youths who have turned their behavior around and are set on the right path can go to college or find gainful employment without their record standing in their way. Sealing records can also incentivize good behavior and full adherence to rehabilitation, as juveniles know that if they make the right choices their past won’t unnecessarily hold them back.
A number of racial discrepancies were found among Michigan’s juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) population in a new report released by the American Civil Liberties Union in conjunction with Second Chances 4 Youth. The state’s JLWOP population is the second highest in the nation trailing Pennsylvania.
The report, Basic Decency: An Examination of Natural Life Sentences for Michigan Youth, analyzes Michigan’s juvenile justice system and was overseen by lawyer Deborah LaBelle, director of the Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative.
On average, juveniles charged with murder were 22 percent less likely to receive plea offers if the victim were white rather than African-American, the report states. Additionally, the researchers say the makeup of youths serving life sentences within Michigan are heavily skewed towards racial minorities, who constitute almost three- quarters of the state’s JLWOP population despite representing only 29 percent of the state’s total juvenile population.
Last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced the creation of the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, an advisory board held within the Michigan Department of Human Services. The Committee was created by combining two commissions focused on juvenile justice issues. Executive Order 2012-1 established the 15-member committee to advise on juvenile justice issues and guide effective implementation of juvenile justice policies and programs.
From the release:
Previously, the 30-member Michigan Commission on Juvenile Justice and the nine-member Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Advisory both provided guidance to the governor. The new, smaller joint commission will provide better focus on issues and be more likely to meet quorum requirements. The membership of the new committee will also contain judges, members active within the community and law enforcement personnel. Prevention of juvenile delinquency will play a significant role in the committee's advisory function.
"The promotion of stronger families, healthier youth and safer communities in our state is of utmost importance," said Snyder. "With the merger of the two commissions and the appointments of these new committee members with such vast and pertinent experience, I am confident these changes will help produce effective and comprehensive strategies to address the issues of, and help reduce and prevent juvenile delinquency."
Click here to visit the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice's website.