The Truth about Youth Campaign

A.A.A would like to invite you to participate in our Truth about Yoth Campaign
Here at Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents we do our absolute best to ensure that the voices of incarcerated youth and their families get allocated a responsible reform to America's Juvenile Justice.
Our Truth about youth Campaign seeks to hear from youth that have been prosecuted upto the age of 18yrs as an adult, as well as their family and friends, to collect their stories in order to unders...See more
General information
In addition, we seek to use your voices to communicate to policy makers and the public the real life impact that the Adult Criminal Justice System has on youth.
For we are endeavoured to bring the stories into brand new and diverse tapestry that paints the true circumstances and embodies the spirit of our approach to Juvenile Justice.
If you are interested in sharing your story please fill out the consent form and send it back to us.
Thank You.

3 students may face charges in teen’s Suicide

Prosecuting kids as adults: Are laws too tough?

A generation after America decided to get tough on kids who commit crimes — sometimes locking them up for life — the tide may be turning.
States are rethinking and, in some cases, retooling juvenile sentencing laws. They’re responding to new research on the adolescent brain, and studies that indicate teens sent to adult court end up worse off than those who are not: They get in trouble more often, they do it faster and the offenses are more serious.
“It’s really the trifecta of bad criminal justice policy,” says Shay Bilchik, a former Florida prosecutor who heads the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University. “People didn’t know that at the time the changes were made. Now we do, and we have to learn from it.”
Juvenile crime is down, in contrast to the turbulent 1990s when politicians vied to pass laws to get violent kids off the streets. Now, in calmer times, some champion community programs for young offenders to replace punitive measures they say went too far.
“The net was thrown too broadly,” says Howard Snyder, director of systems research at the National Center for Juvenile Justice. “When you make these general laws ... a lot of people believe they made it too easy for kids to go into the adult system and it’s not a good place to be.”
Some states are reconsidering life without parole for teens. Some are focusing on raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, while others are exploring ways to offer kids a second chance, once they’re locked up — or even before.
“There has been a huge sea change ... it’s across the country,” says Laurie Garduque, a program director at the MacArthur Foundation, which is heavily involved in juvenile justice reform.

Prosecutor: Laws are appropriate
Not everyone, though, believes there’s reason to roll back harsher penalties adopted in the 1990s.
“The laws that were changed were appropriate and necessary,” says Minnesota prosecutor James Backstrom. “We need to focus on the protecting the public — that’s No. 1. Then we can address the needs of the juvenile offenders.”
Each year about 200,000 defendants under 18 are sent directly or transferred to the adult system, known as criminal court, according to rough estimates.
Most end up there because of state laws that automatically define them as adults, due to their age or offense. Their ranks rose in the 1990s as juvenile crime soared and 48 states made it easier to transfer kids into criminal court, according to the juvenile justice center.
These changes gave prosecutors greater latitude (they could transfer kids without a judge’s permission), lowered the age or expanded the crimes that would make it mandatory for a case to be tried there.
Some states also adopted blended sentences in which two sanctions can be imposed simultaneously; if the teen follows the terms of the juvenile sentence, the adult sentence is revoked.
Laws toughened after wave of violence
The changes were ushered in to curb the explosion in violence — the teen murder arrest rate doubled from 1987 to 1993 — and to address mounting frustrations with the juvenile justice system.

Image: Amy Meyer
Oscar Sosa  /  AP
Amy Meyer, center, a teacher with the Duval County education system, gives out a science worksheet Tuesday during a class at the Pre-Trial Detention Center in Jacksonville, Fla.
A series of horrific crimes by kids rattled the nation: A sixth-grader shot and killed a stranger. A 12-year-old stomped and beat a younger playmate. Two grade-schoolers dropped a 5-year-old 14 stories to his death. Some academics warned that a new generation of “superpredators” would soon be committing mayhem.
It never happened. Drug trafficking declined. An improved economy produced more jobs. And the rate of juvenile violent crime arrests plummeted 46 percent from 1994 to 2005, according to federal figures.
“When crime goes down, people have an opportunity to be more reflective than crisis-oriented and ask, ‘Was this policy a good policy?”’ Bilchik says.
The MacArthur Foundation said in a report to be released this month that about half the states are involved in juvenile justice reform.

And a national poll, commissioned by MacArthur and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy and set for release at the same time, also found widespread public support for rehabilitating teens rather than locking them up.
Changes in laws
Some states have already begun to make changes.
  • In Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter recently formed a juvenile clemency board to hear cases of kids convicted as adults. The head of the panel says it’s an acknowledgment that teens are different from adults — a point made in the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed the death penalty for crimes committed as juveniles. In 2006, the state replaced the juvenile life-without-parole sentence with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
  • In California and Michigan, juvenile life without parole also is getting another look.
  • In Connecticut, lawmakers recently raised the age of juveniles to 18 for most cases; the changes will be phased in by 2010. Prosecutors can still transfer felonies to adult court.
  • In Illinois, a proposal to move 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors to juvenile court passed in the state Senate and is pending in the House.
  • In Wyoming, talks are under way to shed a system that routinely charges and jails juveniles as adults even for minor offenses such as underage drinking.
Not all states are easing up.
Last summer, Rhode Island passed a law to send 17-year-old offenders to adult prisons in what was intended as a cost-cutting move. The measure, however, was quickly repealed after critics pointed out the plan probably would be more expensive.
One teen's situation
Many say the two systems are dramatically different: Juvenile justice emphasizes rehabilitation, adult courts focus on punishment.
Reginald Dwayne Betts, just 16 when he was charged with carjacking in Virginia, was locked up more than eight years, mostly in adult prisons.
“Of course it makes a difference if you’re 15, 16 or 17,” he says. “You’re not prepared to deal with it physically or emotionally. You’re trying to deal with being away from home. You’re trying to deal with the stress that comes with being in prison.”
Violence was a constant. “I got used to stuff most people I see today would never have to get used to — like somebody getting their head split open,” Betts says.
Betts had problems at first but gradually retreated into books, taught himself Spanish, wrote and published poetry.
When he was released two years ago at age 24, he won a college scholarship. Now engaged and planning to write a book, he knows he’s an exception: “People don’t come out of prison and make good,” he says.
Judge deals with kids as kids
In New York, Judge Michael Corriero is aware of those odds.
He presides over a special court in the adult system — it’s called the Manhattan Youth Part and is responsible for resolving the cases of 13- to 15-year-olds accused of serious crimes.
Corriero tries to steer as many kids as possible away from criminal court, a philosophy detailed in his book, “Judging Children as Children.”
“You take a 14-year-old and give him an adult sentence ... you’re taking him out of the community at his most vulnerable time,” he says. “If you put them in an institution, what is that kid going to look like in 10 years?”
Though juvenile crime tends to evoke images of gangs and murder, violent teens are the exception.
Studies show they account for about 5 percent of all juvenile arrests. Drugs, burglary, theft and other property crimes are among the more common reasons teens are prosecuted in adult courts.
Most of these kids, though, don’t end up in adult prison, according to the Campaign for Youth Justice.
Critic: Adult prison system damaging for kids But crossing into the adult world is damaging in itself, argues Liz Ryan, head of the group. About 7,500 juveniles are held in adult jails on any given day, she says, and that number probably reaches tens of thousands a year because of turnover.
Being in an adult jail, Ryan says, increases a kid’s risk of sexual abuse and assault. Educational opportunities are limited. And for those convicted of serious crimes, the damage can be irreparable.
“A lot of people say, ’So what? They get a slap on the wrist,”’ Ryan says. “Well, there is a consequence. ... You have a felony record that follows you the rest of your life.”
Mom worries about son
Sheila Montgomery worries about her son, Zack. He recently was released after serving 27 months for being an accomplice in the robbery of an Oregon convenience store. He had originally received a 7½-year term after falsely confessing to being the robber; he was re-sentenced after evidence revealed he wasn’t.
Montgomery says her son, now 17, will “forever be a felon. He can’t put the past behind him. It was hard for him to find work. A lot of people didn’t want to see him.”
Montgomery says she has no problem with “a little bit of jail time” for her son but believes probation and counseling would have served him better.
But prosecutors say some kids are just too dangerous to be prosecuted as juveniles and then be released by age 21.
If a criminal is likely to be free in a few years and do more harm, “then I come down on the side of risking the damage that is done by sending someone to prison,” says Gary Walker, a Michigan prosecutor.
“When they tell me placing a younger person in an adult setting is not necessarily for the betterment of the individual,” Walker says, “my answer is: ’Who thinks it is?”’
Attorney: No regrets trying teen as adult
Minnesota prosecutor Backstrom didn’t hesitate in prosecuting Matthew Niedere and Clayton Keister, then 17, as adults in the murder of Niedere’s parents. He says he had to “make a very difficult decision whether to put these young men away for their natural lives, or give them a chance.”
He weighed several factors, including their lack of criminal record and research that shows the part of the brain that regulates impulses and aggression is still developing in the 20s.
Backstrom allowed the teens to plead guilty to murder involving an armed robbery — providing for the possibility of parole in 30 years.
More than a decade ago, Backstrom had pressed Minnesota lawmakers to make it easier for prosecutors to take serious cases into adult court.
He was frustrated when he couldn’t try as an adult a 16-year-old who killed an acquaintance in a drug dispute and served less than 1½ years in juvenile detention.
“That’s not justice,” Backstrom says. “He should have gone to prison 15 or 20 years. That’s what would have happened today.”
Using both punishment, prevention
State Attorney Harry Shorstein of Jacksonville, Fla., has his own approach.
“I think I’ve created my own juvenile justice system,” he says. “The secret is not choosing punishment vs. prevention, but using both.”
In 16 years, Shorstein’s office has transferred more than 2,600 juvenile cases to adult court. Almost all those who’ve broken the law go to jail for about a year, where they live separately from adults, attend school and receive social services.
If they stay out of trouble while locked up, and for two years of probation, they don’t get a record.
“I believe crime is like gymnastics,” he says. “It really is a young person’s sport. If you incapacitate a 15- or 16-year-old for a year, you can prevent more crime than if you imprison a 22-year-old for life.”
© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Richard Cox - Juvenile Defendant

Sentence - 999 yrs. 999 mo. 99 days

Ark. parole board rejects clemency request for Cox .
he Arkansas Parole Board rejected a clemency request Monday by a man serving a life sentence for a killing he committed at 16 in Cross County.

The parole board voted 5-0 to reject the application by Richard Cox, 29. Cox was convicted in the 1996 death of Holly Strickland and received a life without parole sentence. Also convicted - in a separate trial - was Kingrale Collins, who was sentenced to death.

On May 18, 1996, Collins shot Strickland when she answered the door of a house where she was staying in Wynne, according to court documents. Cox admitted to carrying and hiding the shotgun as he ran away from the crime scene, but said he did not fire the weapon.

In his clemency application, Cox asked for leniency because he was "with the wrong person at the wrong time."

"I've seen the world for somewhat of what it is; a cold-hearted and at the same time loving place," Cox wrote. "Basically, I believed that I have paid my debt to society as a whole as well as rehabilitated myself."

Prosecutor Fletcher Long opposed the clemency request, saying that Cox helped kill Strickland "purely for the thrill of it."

In April 2006, a federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit by Cox, who is black, claiming he did not receive a fair trial from an all-white jury. Cox also argued the trial court erred in not requiring an explanation for the prosecution's dismissal of Dorothy Caddell, a black woman who stated she could not impose the death penalty on a 16-year-old.

In its dismissal, the appeals court noted that white jurors were also removed from the jury pool for expressing reluctance about imposing the death penalty.

Cox is serving his sentence at the state's Varner Unit.

Richard Cox #115950
Sentence - 999 yrs. 999 mo. 99 days

Inmate Photo
ADC Number:
 115950 Send $
Cox , Richard
Hair Color:
Eye Color:
 70 inches
 146 lbs.
Birth Date:
Initial Receipt Date:
Current Facility:
 Varner Unit
Facility Address:
 320 Hwy. 388, Gould, AR 71643  Map
Mailing Address:
 P.O. Box 600 Grady, AR 71644-0600
PE / TE Date*:
 Life WO
Total time*:
  * may be affected by other laws and regulations

Scars, Marks, & Tattoos:
Rick Cox
Richard Cox

Current Prison Sentence History
Offense Sentence Date County Case # Sentence Length

Capital Murder
08/16/1999 CROSS 1996-100 999 yrs. 999 mo. 99 days

Prior Prison Sentence History
Note: Data reflected covers periods of incarceration since ---
Offense Sentence Date County Case # Com. Sup. Length

Note: Further information may be obtained by contacting the detaining agency.
Detainer Date Detainer Agency Charge Type Date Cancelled

This song was left behind on an old Myspace page by a despairing young man who took his life this spring while institutionalized

This song was left behind on an old Myspace page by a despairing young man who took his life while institutionalized - it gives us something other than just a criminal record to remember him by. This boy loved and was loved very much; our condolences to his family and all the other survivors of suicide out there - particularly those of young prisoners. Your loved ones' lives were no less precious just because they were criminalized by the state. Take care of each other; we need all the good souls we can keep on this planet to make this difficult journey worth taking. 

No-Woman’s Land? On Female Crime and Incarceration, Past, Present, and Future

No-Woman’s Land? On Female Crime and Incarceration, Past, Present, and Future
By Guy Geltner
Justice Policy Journal, Volume 7, No. 2 (2010)
Abstract: The perception of penitentiaries as male institutions dates back to the late Middle Ages, when urban governments across Europe began constructing prisons as cogs in their growing machineries of justice. Already then, female incarceration contrasted sharply, intentionally, and symbolically with that of men, rendering women prison “incasts” in ways that parallel their marginal and vulnerable situation today. And yet few of the major pains of incarceration afflicting modern female prisoners seem to have been common to the experiences of their medieval predecessors. What made the difference, and how can it inform approaches to female inmates and female criminality in general?

Is Juvenile Justice the Missing Link in Corrections Reform?

Golfers love being on the leader board.  Corrections officials, not so much as there is nothing to celebrate about Georgia being the national leader with the highest percentage of its adults under corrections system supervision.  The ratio is 1-in-13 and it is the worst in the country.
Not only does it cost lots of money – more than $1 billion per year in state dollars to run prisons – but lofty incarceration, probation and parole statistics send the wrong message nationally and internationally when Georgia tries to market itself as a leading edge economy and destination.
Over the next several months you will hear extensive discussion about adult corrections system reform.  A commission created by the 2011 General Assembly was told to develop proposals to streamline Georgia corrections without an adverse impact on public safety.  The report is due to Governor Nathan Deal in seven weeks, with legislation possible next year.
Not much of the process is being conducted in public – there have been just three public meetings – and the process does not include a juvenile justice system review.  That is an unfortunate and perhaps costly oversight.  Doesn’t it make sense that a high percentage of adults who commit felonies and fill our prisons began their criminal careers as troubled youths?

Fulton Superior Court Chief Judge Cynthia Wright
“It seems to me that if we were to concentrate a lot of our efforts more in the juvenile justice arena then we might have greater success later in terms of reducing the crime rate,” said Judge Cynthia Wright, chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court.   Wright appeared on a public safety panel hosted by Women in Leadership this week at The Commerce Club.
“I know that our (Fulton County) juvenile court judges have said that we don’t really have a lot of options where to send violent kids,” Wright said.  “The amount of time that they can spend in any sort of detention facility has been reduced down to almost nothing.  These kids go through the juvenile court and they are right back out on the street again.”
Crime is a repeat and often a family business.  ”I keep seeing the same people I sent off before (and) generationally, see their family members,” said Superior Court Judge Michael Boggs who serves on the Waycross Judicial Circuit in southeast Georgia.  Boggs is also a corrections reform commission member, and he appeared alongside Wright on the Commerce Club panel.
Georgia adult corrections system numbers are ugly:  56,000 at least in prison and 160,000 on parole or probation.  Georgia has the ninth largest state population but overall, the fourth largest corrections system.  Totals do not include adults locked up in county or municipal jails.
The state Department of Juvenile Justice serves 60,000 juveniles per year.  Three-fourths are male.  On any given day 2,000 youths are detained in secure facilities and 20,000 are assigned to less restrictive community based settings.  State juvenile justice system funding is going backward; down from just under $322 million in Fiscal 2008 to about $286 million in Fiscal 2012.
Recidivism – the percentage rate at which a former inmate is back behind bars – is nearly identical in the state’s adult corrections and juvenile systems.   This year The Pew Center for the States reported 34.8% of Georgia adults released starting in 2004 were back behind bars within three years.  Comparable statewide juvenile data was 40% within twelve months during the fiscal year that ended in June 2010, the latest numbers available.
Why this happens and how to enact reform that does not impact public safety is why we have a commission.   One impetus is clearly financial – adult corrections costs are the fastest growing line item after Medicaid state dollars.  More important, Georgia cannot become the state that it aspires to be so long as crime and corrections dominate at least some of the media message.
The final thoughts here are from Waycross Superior Court Judge Boggs:  “I sit around with some very conservative folks having a cup of coffee and they’ll say, lock ‘em up.  But do you know that it will cost $80 million to build one 1,500-bed prison in this state?  That’s not including the cost of the land and it will cost $25 million a year to operate that prison.
“We’re going to give the Legislature a lot to choose from and then they’re going to decide what is politically palatable and what they turn into legislation,” Boggs said.  “It’s not one size fits all and it’s certainly not a magic pill.  This is going to be a lengthy process.  It will not be fixed by whatever bill comes out of the recommendation that comes out of this committee.”
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Juvenile Justice

The juvenile justice system is often the “last stop” on the Cradle to Prison Pipeline—the crisis at the intersection of poverty and race that puts Black boys born in 2001 at a one in three lifetime risk of going to prison, and Latino boys born in 2001 at a one in six lifetime risk of the same fate—and provides a critical opportunity to intervene and help get children on a more positive track forward toward college, productive work and successful adulthood. The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) works to build awareness of the root causes of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and trends that incarcerate our youth. CDF identifies effective youth violence prevention and intervention programs that help young people at every point of involvement in the system—ranging from efforts to divert youths from entering the system by creating more alternatives to imprisonment to supporting a youth’s transition back into the community after a period of confinement. CDF also advocates for the humane and rehabilitative treatment of all children in the juvenile justice system, and ultimately, for systemic reform at the local, state and federal levels to ensure children receive fair and appropriate treatment.

CDF’S Juvenile Justice Priorities

Addressing the Educational Needs of Children in the Juvenile Justice System
With nearly one-half (48 percent) of youths in the juvenile justice system functioning below the grade level appropriate for their age and 30 percent reporting a learning disability diagnosis, compared to 28 and five percent of students in the general population, respectively, children in the juvenile justice system have critical learning needs that must be addressed if they are to get on a more positive track forward. CDF is working in three vital areas to ensure the juvenile justice system addresses children’s educational needs:
Educational Services for Confined Youth: Many researchers and advocates agree that students in the juvenile justice system often do not have access to quality academic instruction and programming while they are in confinement. While the average school day for the general population is six to seven hours a day, only 45 percent of youths in the juvenile justice system spend at least six hours a day in school. CDF is studying the availability and quality of instructive services for the incarcerated youth population and identifying policy recommendations based on model programs and legislation that make a difference in the academic and social development of children.
ESEA Reauthorization: Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is a top priority for CDF, and the Juvenile Justice Policy team is working with the Education Policy team to improve Title I, Part D—Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth who are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk—to better meet the instructional needs of the students who participate in Part D-funded activities. Learn more about CDF’s education policy priorities.
Out of School Time Learning & Enrichment: CDF Freedom Schools® provide summer and after-school enrichment to help children become engaged with reading, increase their self-esteem and have a more positive attitude toward school and learning. In the summer of 2010, CDF launched three Freedom Schools in juvenile justice settings in Minnesota, Texas, and Washington DC. In 2011 the CDF Freedom Schools program expanded to Middletown, New York. Some juvenile corrections staff noted the benefit for youths who were able to express themselves and feel successful in the scholastic environment. CDF is working to expand the number of CDF Freedom Schools programs in juvenile justice settings in order to give more students access to quality enrichment programs. Learn more about the CDF Freedom Schools program.
Removing Children from Adult Jails and Prisons
On any given day, approximately 81,000 children (263 of every 100,000 youths ages 10 through the state’s upper age of origi¬nal juvenile court jurisdiction in the general population) are held in a juvenile justice residential placement. Additionally, 7,560 children are held in adult jails and 2,778 in adult prisons. As noted in the 2007 report of the National Prison Rape Elimination Act Commission, juveniles are at highest risk of being sexually abused while in confinement, and children housed in adult facilities are at an even higher risk of being victims of sexual abuse than the children retained in juvenile facilities. In light of these disturbing findings, the Commission recommended that juveniles be kept in separate facilities from adults. As the Department of Justice moves to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), CDF has joined other children’s and juvenile justice advocacy organizations in submitting comments urging the Department to follow the Commission’s recommendation and remove all children—whether they are in the juvenile or adult criminal justice system—from adult jails and prisons. Download the PREA youth comments report PDF. CDF is working with the Campaign for Youth Justice and other advocacy organizations to support the Department of Justice in keeping young people safe from sexual abuse and other harms caused by housing children with adult inmates. Visit the Campaign for Youth Justice’s website to learn more about their important work.
Securing Federal Resources for Juvenile Justice Reform
The federal government plays a vital role in protecting children in the juvenile justice system and helping to ensure they get the resources and attention they need to get off the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and onto the pipeline toward college, work and successful adulthood. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is specifically tasked with “strengthening the nation’s juvenile justice system and supporting prevention and early intervention programs that can make a difference for young people and their communities.” In monitoring OJJDP and other federal juvenile justice efforts, CDF is particularly concerned about the following:
Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is Long Overdue: First passed in 1974, the JJDPA provides guidance and funding for states to make improvements to their juvenile justice systems and delinquency prevention programs, and requires states to address the over-incarceration of minority children. The JJDPA has been up for reauthorization since 2007 and CDF has worked with other advocacy groups to strengthen state requirements and spur greater juvenile justice reform efforts. Learn more about how to get involved in the JJDPA reauthorization.
An OJJDP Administrator Must Be Appointed: President Obama has not yet appointed a permanent OJJDP administrator to oversee the implementation of the JJDPA in the states, and the selection and appropriation of federal grants toward delinquency prevention and intervention programs. This vacant seat has been filled by an interim administrator, Jeff Slowikowski, since President Obama took office in January, 2009. Nineteen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama and Attorney General Holder to urge them to appoint a permanent administrator. CDF supports efforts to appoint a permanent administrator who will serve as a strong leader in promoting juvenile justice improvements in every state.
Federal Funding for Juvenile Justice Reform Must Be Protected: CDF works to ensure adequate federal funding for juvenile justice programming, which includes supporting local delinquency prevention programs as well as state-wide juvenile justice activities that comply with JJDPA standards. Unfortunately, juvenile justice programming funded through OJJDP was cut in the 2011, decreasing from $423.6 million in fiscal year 2010 to $276 million. The loss of federal juvenile justice funding often results in delinquency prevention programs closing their doors to at risk youths, as federal grant opportunities decrease. President Obama’s 2012 budget proposed juvenile justice funding levels at $280 million. The President’s budget proposal would increase formula funding to states that comply with the JJDPA (View OJJDP's Formula Grants Program Summary), but cut the block grants that monitor state juvenile justice activities (See the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants Summary), as well as mentoring programs. Learn more about the federal budget.
Supporting California’s Senate Bill 9, the Fair Sentencing for Youth Act
The California State Assembly will soon vote on a bill that reforms the practice of sentencing youths to life without parole. Currently, youths sentenced to life without parole will die in prison, and have no mechanism for being considered for parole, or supervised release, even if they turn their lives around after serving a portion of their sentence and repenting for their actions. Children have a greater capacity to change than adults, therefore, their cases should be reviewed if they can demonstrate they have become responsible, moral, and productive adults. Read CDF's Op-ed on Senate Bill 9, "Second Chance at Life".
Partnering with the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition
The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) is a collaborative of over 50 children’s advocacy, social justice, law enforcement, corrections, and faith-based organizations working to ensure healthy families, build strong communities and improve public safety by promoting fair and effective policies, practices and programs for youths involved or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. CDF is a member of the NJJDPC and part of the JJDPA reauthorization working group. Meetings are open to the public and are held on the third Tuesday of every month at 1:30 pm in Washington D.C. Learn more about the NJJDPC’s policy platform in 2011.

Recent Juvenile Justice Reports

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention frequently publishes reports on juvenile justice data that has been collected and delinquency prevention programs that have been evaluated.
Read the Campaign for Youth Justice’s recent report, State Trends, which details the legislative victories from 2005 to 2010 in removing children from the adult criminal justice system. While the trend in the 1980s and 1990s was to transfer more children to the adult system, many states have made progress in turning that tide. More recent research has shown that transferring children to the adult system is not good for children or public safety.
Marian Wright Edelman joined with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to discuss the current state of juvenile reentry and policies to meet the educational, mental health, and substance abuse needs of the county’s juveniles, and further dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline. A report on juvenile re-entry was prepared for Ridley-Thomas’s office earlier this year by Michelle Newell and Angelica Salazar, former masters candidates at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who now both work at the CDF on juvenile justice policy. Download the full report commissioned by Ridley-Thomas’s office and edited for the Web, Juvenile Reentry in Los Angeles County: An Exploration of Strengths, Barriers and Policy Options.

Human Rights Facts (224): Prison Rape in the U.S.

http://filipspagnoli.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/prison-rape.jpgThe U.S. Department of Justice recently released its first-ever estimate of the number of inmates who are sexually abused in America each year. According to the department’s data, which are based on nationwide surveys of prison and jail inmates as well as young people in juvenile detention centers, at least 216,600 inmates were victimized in 2008 alone. Contrary to popular belief, most of the perpetrators were not other prisoners but staff members—corrections officials whose job it is to keep inmates safe. On average, each victim was abused between three and five times over the course of the year. The vast majority were too fearful of reprisals to seek help or file a formal complaint. (source)
Given the incarceration statistics for the U.S. – more than 2 million U.S. citizens are in jail – this means that one in 10 inmates is sexually abused in prison.
More in prison rape here, here, here and here. More human rights facts here.

Juvenile Justice - Girls and Juvenile Justice System: Facts & Statistics

Girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system with minority females disproportionately represented among delinquent girls; two-thirds are girls of color. The majority have been subjected to some form of emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse.
The above findings from the September 2009 study "Report on High Risk Girls and Gender-Specific Programming," commissioned by the The Girls' Initiative of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, shed light on a segment of society that is frequently overlooked and underserved -- high risk girls whose actions lead to incarceration.

Compared to their male counterparts, incarcerated girls experience childhood victimization at much higher rates. Many enter the system with serious mental health issues. Frequently arrested for non-violent offenses (e.g. truancy, running away) incarceration compounds their trauma.
This vulnerable population differs in key areas from incarcerated boys. As the Girls' Initiative report indicates:
Most scholars and practitioners acknowledge that the juvenile justice system was designed for boys. We too often try to squeeze delinquent girls in to an existing boys program, without stepping back to evaluate if that program is effective or even suited for girls’ needs.
Gender-specific programs must be part of the juvenile justice system in order to turn the lives of these girls around and reduce recidivism. "I know gender responsive programs work," says Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral who heads up Massachusetts' largest sheriff's department and the 30th largest in the country. Emphasizing that early intervention is also cost effective, she states, "We've seen the results with female inmates at the House of Correction.  Imagine the preventative effect...if they were in place when these women were juveniles.  Waiting until we're spending $42,000 per year to incarcerate them should not be an option."
The following facts from the the Girls' Initiative report and the group Physicians for Human Rights highlight the challenges faced by girls in the juvenile justice system.
Abuse is commonplace
  • 92% of girls in California have experienced physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse
  • Nationwide, 73% of girls have been abused according the the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Over 45% have been beaten or burned
  • 40% have been raped
In most cases, girls are abused by someone they trusted -- a family member or close family friend. Sexual abuse leads to low self-esteem, inability to trust, academic failure, eating disorders and teen pregnancy. Girls who have been abused and/or neglected are twice as likely to be arrested than other girls. Many have physical and mental health problems
  • 32% have or have had STDs
  • 32% have chronic health problems
  • 60-87% need substance abuse treatment
  • 50% report drug use by a parent
  • 50% are more likely to suffer PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) than incarcerated boys
In one sample of female juvenile offenders, 70% had experienced trauma and 65% had experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sometime in their lives. Another study of incarcerated girls in Colorado revealed that
  • 100% had PTSD
  • 80% required substance abuse treatment
  • 67% had psychiatric disorders
  • 50% had eating disorders
  • 47% had attempted suicide or self-mutilation
Certain key factors are gender-specific
  • Girls are at highest risk for delinquency at 12-14 years old
  • They experience higher rates of depression, body image disorders and thoughts of suicide, all of which increase during incarceration
  • Incarcerated girls tend to be person offenders; boys tend to be property offenders
  • Girls are most often arrested for non-violent crimes and status offenses such as running away, truancy, curfew and probation violations, disorderly conduct or prostitution
  • Female juvenile offenders engage in sexual activity at an earlier age than non-offenders, increasing their risk of STDs and unplanned pregnancy
Gender challenges increase risk of delinquency Girls have specific developmental needs during adolescence which, if met, greatly reduce their chances of becoming juvenile offenders. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention:
In understanding the developmental pathways that can lead girls to delinquency, it may help to consider what girls need for healthy development while also recognizing the challenges that may put them at greater risk of delinquency. For example:
  • Need for physical safety and healthy physical development
    Challenged by poverty, homelessness, violence, inadequate health care, inadequate nutrition, substance abuse
  • Need for trust, love, respect, validation from caring adults to foster healthy emotional development and form positive relationships
    Challenged by abandonment, family dysfunction, poor communication
  • Need for positive female role models to develop healthy identity as a woman
    Challenged by sexist, racist, homophobic messages, lack of community support
  • Need for safety to explore sexuality at own pace for healthy sexual development
    Challenged by sexual abuse, exploitation, negative messages about female sexuality
  • Need to belong, to feel competent and worthy
    Challenged by weakened family ties, negative peer influences, academic failure, low self-esteem
As indicated by the above factors, female juvenile delinquency is often a cry for help. Specific programs tailored to the issues and concerns of girls in the juvenile justice system can arrest and even reverse the rising rate of incarceration among vulnerable high risk girls. Sources:
"Chapter 1: Female Juvenile Delinquents: Why Are Girls' Needs Different?"Guiding Principles for Promising Female Programming, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Programs, U.S Department of Justice. October 1998.
Lyman, Lynne, MPA and Elizabeth Spinney, MPP. "Report on High Risk Girls and Gender-Specific Programming." The Girls' Initiative of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, girlscoalition.org. September 2009.
"Sheriff Andrea J. Cabral." SCDMA.org, Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, Massachusetts website. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
"Unique Needs of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System." Health and Justice for Youth Campaign, PhysiciansforHumanRights.org. Retrieved 8 July 2010.

Tough judge: Caravati court known for harsh sentencing

Former Mayor Blake Caravati made his first appearance in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Friday, September 16, but details of the incident that led to his being charged with spousal assault on September 9 may remain cloaked until trial.
After waiting quietly in the courtroom for nearly an hour for a tardy Judge Dwight Johnson to arrive, the 60-year-old commercial contractor and prominent local Democrat, dressed in a sportcoat and slacks, was among the first called to the bench, where Charlottesville Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Killeen announced that, due to a conflict in her office, Greene County prosecutor Ronald Morris will handle the state's case.
If questions linger about the details of Caravati's alleged crime, his potential punishment also remains a question, and anyone familiar with Johnson's judicial record might ask– hyperbolically, one hopes– if Caravati could be the second mayor hanged for a crime against his wife.
As longtime readers of the Hook may recall, 107 years ago, Mayor Samuel McCue was hanged for the bludgeoning, strangling, and shooting death of his wife, Fannie. While Caravati isn't accused of anything so extreme– he's facing a single misdemeanor charge for assaulting his spouse– Judge Johnson once issued a sentence in another high-profile matter that shocked even the prosecution.
That was the case of Albemarle County resident Elisa Robinson, whom Johnson sentenced to eight years in prison for providing alcohol at her son's 16th birthday sleepover. At the time, those who knew Robinson– who has since divorced and changed her name to Elisa Kelly– described her as a devoted soccer mom who simply made an error in judgment.
In addition to the eight-year sentences for both Kelly and then husband George Robinson (both later reduced on appeal), the pair were perp-walked out of the courtroom in front of waiting media– adding further humiliation that, some suggested, Johnson orchestrated to deter other alcohol providers.
In the present case, however, even if Johnson, a conservative Christian, wants to throw the book at Caravati, he appears limited by statute, which sets the maximum possible sentence at 12 months behind bars and a $2,500 fine.
Even that, however, would be extreme for a first offense, says legal analyst David Heilberg, who points out that the state explicitly offers first-time offenders in violence against a family member an alternative to standard punishment: anger management classes or other counseling and a two-year probation, after which the charges may be dismissed.
Heilberg says he doubts Johnson would single anyone out for harsher punishment unless there were some aggravating fact.
"He has these cases all the time, and he's pretty consistent," says Heilberg. "If the Commonwealth agrees, and it's a first-time offender, he usually offers a deferral."
If Caravati's worried about Johnson's sentencing history, he's not saying. He remained in the courtroom for at least 30 minutes following the hearing, forcing some reporters on deadline to leave without questioning him. His attorney, Sheila Haughey, however, suggests the media should just ignore the case.
The Caravati family, "has obviously hit a rough patch," says Haughey. "Let's leave them alone."
The trial is scheduled for Friday, October 21, in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Combating Mass Incarceration - The Facts

The war on drugs has helped make the U.S. the world's largest incarcerator.
America’s criminal justice system should keep communities safe, treat people fairly, and use fiscal resources wisely. But more Americans are deprived of their liberty than ever before - unfairly and unnecessarily, with no benefit to public safety. Especially in the face of economic crisis, our government should invest in alternatives to incarceration and make prisons options of last – not first – resort.

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14 Year Old Girl Charged with Manslaughter | police, bellmead, girl - KFDM-TV Channel Six

14 Year Old Girl Charged with Manslaughter | police, bellmead, girl - KFDM-TV Channel Six

Our mission is to place a national spotlight upon the nations approach to juvenile justice, and to place faces and stories to the children that were waived, and thereby, held to an adult standard in the courtroom and then sent to adult prisons. Our mission is to end the practice of sentencing children to life without the possibility of parole, and to reduce the harm caused to children in adult prisons by supporting legislation that will make those who were sentenced as children eligible to have their sentences reviewed at some point during their incarceration. Advocates for Abandoned Adolescent's mission is to introduce concerned citizens to effective ways in which they can contribute to enhancing the quality of juvenile justice, to create chapters of A.A.A. in every state coast to coast. To organize and coordinate a national synchronized protest on all fifty state capitals on the same day, at the same moment and unified under the A.A.A. banner. Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

If I Get Out Alive - Children Sentenced to Adult Prison - Press Play to Listen

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