Blog: tobacco

Youth Justice News Roundup

We round up the latest news on youth justice reform and national public health.

Illegal Tobacco Sales to Youth on the Decline

A new report released by SAMHSA shows that the national weighted average rate of illegal tobacco sales to youth is 8.5 percent, the lowest rate reported since the inception of the Synar program. The Synar program requires States to enact and enforce laws restricting the sale of tobacco products to youth. The report also shows that the number of States reporting low rates of illegal tobacco sales to youth has increased. In FY 2011, 34 States achieved a retailer violation rate (RVR) below ten percent and 12 achieved a RVR below five percent.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in the United States, with 443,000 deaths annually attributed to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke (CDC, 2008). Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. In fact, among adults who have ever smoked daily, 88 percent report that they first smoked by the age of 18, with 99 percent reporting that they first smoked by the age of 26. Furthermore, more than one-third of adults who have ever smoked report trying their first cigarette by the age of 14 (USDHHS, 2012). These data suggest that if youth are prevented from smoking while they are young, they will be unlikely to begin smoking as adults.

Teens Turn Corner with Jury of Peers and More: News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform
Teens turn corner with jury of their peers (News Star) The teen court program in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, in operation since 1986, allows juveniles who have been found guilty of nonviolent misdemeanors to go in front of a group of their peers for a second chance.
Revised court rules protect juveniles (Post-Gazette) Revamped juvenile court procedures in Pennsylvania will prevent schools from taking additional disciplinary measures when a child gets in legal trouble outside of school.

Criminal justice podcast with David Onek (Berkeley Law) Probation Officer Scott MacDonald discusses reducing racial disparities in the juvenile justice system, partnering with the community, using data to drive decision-making, sustaining reforms through leadership transitions, and more.
Five questions for Wansley Walters, head of Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice ( In Miami-Dade, Walters spear-headed the use of civil citations and other diversion programs with generally applauded results. From 1998 to 2008, juvenile arrests dropped by 51 percent there, juvenile detention by 66 percent and re-arrests by 80 percent. It’s estimated that Miami-Dade saved more than $20 million as a result.

Handcuffing of 8-Year-Old Prompts Change and More; Reclaiming Futures News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • States have second thoughts about juveniles in adult court (Bellingham Herald) Nearly 20 years after the "iron fist" ruled in Colorado, the tide is turning in preference of checks and balances so that youth are not caught in the middle of the system.
  • At-risk youths achieve in Texas (Go San Angelo) A $154,000 grant was awarded to the Tom Green County Juvenile Justice Department earlier this year to address the needs of children ages 6 through 13. The goal is to identify problems in school or the household before students end up on juvenile probation.
  • Handcuffing of 8-year-old prompts change in school policy (Las Vegas Review Journal) When the Superintendent Dwight Jones learned of the arrest of Tyrus Williams, he ordered a policy change to reflect that juveniles of elementary age shall not be arrested and transported to any juvenile facility unless authorized by the chief of police.
  • Psychiatrists stand against harmful juvenile justice system policies (National Juvenile Justice Network) In a recent policy statement, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) strongly opposes the use of solitary confinement for youth in trouble with the law. The statement discusses the fact that youth are especially sensitive to the known adverse effects of solitary confinement, like anxiety and psychosis.
  • New report: Louisiana ‘strayed’ from commitment to juvenile justice reform (Youth Today) Nearly a decade after Louisiana committed to sweeping changes to the state’s struggling juvenile justice system, some advocates contend the governor and leaders in the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice are “backsliding” on their commitments to reform.

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