Upward Trend Lines in Juvenile Justice Reform

Isn’t it fun when policy is trending our way? Indeed, after reading State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth From the Adult Criminal Justice System released by the Campaign for Youth Justice I just want to celebrate.
State Trends identifies twenty-three states that enacted forty pieces of legislation to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal courts and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. They identify four important trends:

  • Trend 1: Eleven states (Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Hawaii, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and Ohio) have passed laws limiting states’ authority to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
  • Trend 2: Four states (Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, and Massachusetts) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
  • Trend 3: Twelve states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Maryland and Nevada) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
  • Trend 4: Eight states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults, allow for post-sentence review for youth facing juvenile life without parole or other sentencing reform for youth sentenced as adults.

So if you don't live in one of these 23 states (as I am) it’s clear we have to have to do some catching up with the rest of the country.

Note: this post reprinted with permission from Connected by 25

Chris Sturgis is Principal of MetisNet, a consulting firm that specializing in strategies to improving the lives of our most vulnerable youth including competency education, high school reform, dropout recovery, and community engagement. She is co-founder of the Youth Transition Funders Group and currently manages the Connected by 25 blog. She is also a national leader on competency education and manages CompetencyWorks.

Updated: February 08 2018