Darren Wilson Is Identified as Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

The Police in Ferguson broke their weeklong silence on Friday and identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager.

The Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, said the officer was Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force who had no disciplinary action taken against him.

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Armed w/ Military-Grade Weapons, Missouri Police Crack Down on Protests over Michael Brown Shooting

The Missouri town of Ferguson looks like a war zone as police fire tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs to break up a fifth night of protests over the police shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. At least 10 people were arrested on Wednesday, including St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been posting video online of the protests and who appeared on Democracy Now! earlier this week. An earlier protest faced a heavy police response, with police in riot gear stationed by a massive armed vehicle in the street.

For a compelling video of scenes from Ferguson click here

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Ferguson Evokes Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions

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How Can We Improve the Criminal Justice System’s Treatment of Young People? Ask Justice-Involved Kids

While a growing body of research has demonstrated that punishing young people in the adult criminal justice system is not an effective deterrent, results in higher rates of recidivism and undermines opportunities for young offenders to mature and rehabilitate, the subjective views and experiences of young people in the adult criminal justice system remain largely undocumented and unexamined.

In September, my organization, the John Howard Association (JHA), hopes to fill in part of this gap when we release our study “In Their Own Words: Young People’s Experiences in the Criminal Justice System and Their Perceptions of Its Legitimacy.”

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Juvenile Justice and Education Partnerships: Change Must Begin Now

Former Special Education Director for King County, Washington writes: “I’m still not seeing education as an equal partner when I visit jurisdictions across the nation. I hear phrases like “dual jurisdiction youth” or “crossover youth” focusing on social welfare and juvenile justice. This work has added tremendous value but education seems to be an afterthought. I have never seen a youth who had significant issues with those two systems who didn’t have significant issues with education. It is obvious that juvenile justice and education will never successfully reform current practices and local outcomes without becoming full partners.”

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Justice Department Releases Blistering Report On New York City’s Juvenile Jails

New York City’s juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force,” the federal government said in a scathing report released Monday.

The report, the result of a 2 1/2-year Justice Department investigation into violence at three RikersIsland juvenile jail facilities, recommended major reforms to almost every aspect of how young offenders are treated.

It identified problems that occurred between 2011 and 2013 that also likely hold true for adult inmates, including poor staff training, inadequate investigations, an ineffective management structure and the overuse of solitary confinement, particularly for mentally ill inmates.

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How Do We Build Resilience Among Youth?

How can the juvenile justice system — and other agencies that serve children — build post-traumatic resilience among youth? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is exploring how it can contribute to ending the culture of violence and trauma that is an obstacle to good health for too many vulnerable Americans.

A new report, “Trauma and Resilience: A New Look at Legal Advocacy for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems,” provides a vital look at how system involvement — in the juvenile justice or child welfare system — can cause trauma, or exacerbate underlying trauma caused by sexual abuse, violence, the death of a loved one, witnessing violence and other experiences. The report sets forth ways to support resilience in youth, and also recognizes the risk of lifelong damage from unaddressed trauma. It includes both strategies for individual advocates and policy recommendations for changing the system.

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Pew Applauds Hawaii for Enacting Juvenile Justice Reforms

New law will strengthen supervision and services, expand use of proven practices to reduce recidivism

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law a comprehensive set of juvenile justice policy reforms that will halve the number of youth held in the state’s secure facility and improve public safety by redirecting much of the savings to proven strategies for helping troubled youth move toward productive, law-abiding lives.

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Summit to Bring Together Juvenile Justice Pros, Youthful Advocates

“Building the next generation of juvenile justice leaders” will be the focus of a two-day summit in Washington co-hosted by the nonprofit Coalition for Juvenile Justiceand the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The second annual Juvenile Justice Youth Summit, which begins Thursday, will bring together 130 youth advocates from throughout the nation and will feature remarks by CJJ Executive Director Marie Williams and OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee, who will also moderate a panel.

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Juvenile Justice White Paper:

Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System (The Council of State Governments Justice Center)

This white paper was written to guide leaders across all branches of government; juvenile justice system administrators, managers, and front-line staff; and researchers, advocates, and other stakeholders on how to better leverage existing research and resources to facilitate system improvements that reduce recidivism and improve other outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The focus of the white paper is to promote what works to support successful reentry for youth who are under juvenile justice system supervision.

To access this report click here

This Week in Youth Services: Funding, News and Opinion on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare

The Chronicle of Social Change is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program (FYI), a group of 11 former foster youths who completed Congressional internships. The first three profiles:

  1. Trauma Training for Caregivers
  2. An Empowerment/Comfort Curriculum for New Foster Youth
  3. Internship-track Career Programs for Aging-Out Teens


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Health Coverage and Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: The Role of Medicaid and CHIP

This report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured provides an overview of the physical and mental health needs of youth in the juvenile justice system, and the role of Medicaid in financing comprehensive, coordinated medical services. The report focuses on the circumstances of youth who are placed in juvenile justice residential facilities, the discontinuity of Medicaid coverage for those youth, options for continuity of care, access to needed services, improving coverage after system involvement, and new opportunities provided by the Affordable Care Act.

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Jonathan Lippman: New York’s ‘Pro-Activist’ Judge

The state’s most powerful judge is a busy man. As the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, Jonathan Lippman is not only the top jurist on almost 300 cases a year, he’s also in charge of the court’s day-day-administration.

To read more of this profile of Judge Lippman click here

New Orleans Immigration Court Handling More Than 1,200 Cases of Unaccompanied Minors Fleeing Central America

By the end of June, 1,216 cases involving children were pending in immigration courts in Louisiana, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal immigration enforcement.

They’re all in New Orleans Immigration Court, which already had a massive backlog.

Why New Orleans? The immigration court here, located at One Canal Place, is the only one in the state that deals with people who aren’t in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Another factor: Most of the cases involve Honduran children, and New Orleans has a large Honduran population. The federal government tries to place unaccompanied minors with relatives or sponsor families as they process their cases.

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Commission on Youth, Public Safety, and Justice Meeting 
Tuesday, July 29, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m
One Pace Plaza, Pace University, Student Union (Level B)
New York, NY 10038
Find the link to the event here:
Click on the above  link to an important Raise the Age event where where key participants from the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice and other invited speakers will hold a public forum to discuss various perspectives on the Raise the Age effort and also provide an opportunity for the public to address the Commission.
Also, we strongly encourage you to invite other advocates, funders and concerned citizens from your networks so that this event benefits from strong attendance and participation

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Class-action Suit: Kids in Immigration Court with No Lawyers to Help

A coalition of civil rights groups filed a nationwide class-action suit last week alleging that putting children into immigration court without counsel violates both constitutional due-process rights and immigration law.

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Kids On Hook For Limitless Sums After Crimes

To say that juvenile restitution is complicated is an understatement. It’s a process that wrestles with two competing philosophies around the idea of justice: justice for victims who have the right to be paid for their losses — even when the offender spends time in jail — and justice for juvenile offenders, who need to be held accountable but also allowed to move on from their crimes, and from the system.

This story is part of Double Charged, a special report on the U.S. juvenile justice system produced by Youth Radio.  In this article you can also find a link to Youth Radio’s Innovation Lab which invites you to follow along with a few characters so you can watch as the court related costs add up.

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Cops and Community, How to Repair a Broken Relationship

It is difficult to repair a broken relationship, one built on years of distrust. It is especially tough if you are the parent of a child forever getting caught up in the juvenile justice system, knowing their kid can be harassed and possibly injured or arrested for simply walking down the street.

So how can we as a community come together to mend this problem that has damaged countless lives for far too long?

To continue to this article click here. It was written by Alton Pitre, a 23-year-old native of Los Angeles, Calif. He is a juvenile justice ambassador, studies journalism at LA Valley College and was recently accepted to Morehouse College

The Criminalization of Black Youth and the Rise of Restorative Justice

Along with racial profiling and other legal harassment, like stop-and-frisk, being pushed through a window by police has apparently become a new reality for brown-skinned kids. Yet how is such aggression and violence justified by law enforcement, and are these incidents to be imagined as mere coincidence – or explained as reflective of black pathology rather than police pathology?

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The MacArthur Foundation and SAMHSA Select States for a New Initiative to Aid Youth with Behavioral Health Needs

The MacArthur Foundation and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced that Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Tennessee have been selected to participate in the Improving Diversion Policies and Programs for Justice-Involved Youth with Behavioral Health Disorders: An Integrated Policy Academy-Action Network Initiative.

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Senators Booker and Paul Introduce the REDEEM Act

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the REDEEM Act (The Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act), which aims to reduce barriers to employment created by having a criminal record.

  • Incentivizes states to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 18-years-old by offering preference to Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant applications for those that have set 18 or older as the age of original jurisdiction for adult criminal courts.
  • Offers adults a way to seal non-violent criminal records.
  • Provides for automatic expungement of records for kids who commit non-violent crimes before they turn 15 and automatic sealing of records for those who commit non-violent crimes after they turn 15 years old.
  • Restricts use of juvenile solitary confinement.
  • Lifts ban on SNAP and TANF benefits for low-level drug offenders.

Click to Learn more.

A New Report Explores Strategies To Serve Youth in Their Communities

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) has released Close to Home: Strategies to Place Young People in Their Communities. This policy brief describes strategies for juvenile justice stakeholders to reduce the number of young people placed in secure facilities. Key strategies include developing a decision point to review alternatives to out-of-home placement, building a local continuum of placement and treatment options, and reducing lengths of stay in facilities at various points in the system.

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The Two Sides of Raise the Age in New York

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the members of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice, created in part to address raising the age of criminal responsibility. The commission is tasked with serving up concrete recommendations about raising the age and juvenile justice reform by December.

But with high-profile cases like Kahton Anderson’s (a 14 year old boy charged in the shooting death of a man on a public City bus this past March) making the news, public support of Raise the Age legislation isn’t unanimous.

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The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision

Despite growing evidence and a broad consensus that the period immediately following release from prison is critical for preventing recidivism, a large and increasing number of offenders are maxing out—serving their entire sentences behind bars—and returning to their communities without supervision or support.

A new Pew report, Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision, found that 1 in 5 inmates maxed out in 2012, up from 1 in 7 in 1990. The report highlights variations in state max-out rates, from a high of 64 percent in Florida to less than 1 percent in Oregon, and offers a policy framework for reducing max-out rates.

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Keep Legal Protections for Kids Crossing Border, Rights Groups Say

The surge of unaccompanied youth crossing from Mexico into the United States has become a political issue, with the White House facing pressure to expedite the return of kids to their home countries.

President Obama has urged Congress to add immigration judges and detention facilities to speed up the legal process required by law.

Child welfare and immigrants’ rights groups fear the legal process could be fast-tracked and warn that many of the youth face violence at home and need a full review of their situation.

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Hawaii Enacts Broad Juvenile Justice Reform
Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) on July 2 signed a landmark package of juvenile justice policy reforms to steer lower-level offenders away from the state’s security facility and redirect much of the savings into evidence-based community supervision strategies to help reduce recidivism and help troubled youth move toward productive, law-abiding lives.

The law was passed unanimously by the Hawaii House of Representatives and Senate and is projected to reduce the population of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility by 60 percent, saving $11 million over the next five years.

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Teens in Isolation: State Advisers to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Hold Briefing on Juvenile Solitary Confinement in New York

Appointed in July 2013, committee members in New York chose to focus on juvenile justice within the state, looking specifically at education, solitary confinement, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

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Locked Up, Left Behind: Juvenile Justice System Failing Southern Youth

“The most disadvantaged, troubled students in the South and the nation attend schools in the juvenile justice systems,” the 2014 report from the Southern Education Foundation begins. The document, Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems raises a number of questions: If so many children with educational needs are segregated or incarcerated, what will become of them and the society they will enter once they age out of the system? Are their needs being met? What can be improved?

To read this article click here and to access the report click here


Changing the Odds for Boys and Men of Color

A responsible approach to criminal justice can make our communities safer, save tax dollars and help all of us, but our current system is falling terribly short — at great economic, human and moral cost. Most acutely, our juvenile and criminal justice systems present tremendous barriers to success for boys and young men of color. That’s why it is exciting to see the White House courageously joining forces with philanthropic leaders to address this issue head on.

In February of this year, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative focused on fixing the persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color, including addressing racial and ethnic bias within the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

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A Model for Juvenile Justice Reform

An editorial from NY Times highlighting how recent reforms pushing community guidance programs are spreading across the country, which is all well and good for minor offenders. However the article points out that young people with more serious charges are still entangled in a system that relies on solitary confinement, an ineffective and in fact harmful intervention.

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Report Finds Incarceration Doesn’t Work, Community Engagement Does

Read this thoughtful op-ed by local NYC juvenile justice advocate Ruben Austria. He writes about a new study by the Youth Advocate Programs Policy and Advocacy Center (YAP) that shows that by relying on strength based approaches it is indeed possible to keep youth Safely Home rather than lock them away, as the report he cites is titled.

To read the article click here and to access the full report click here

The Criminal Justice Response to 16- and 17-Year-Old Defendants in New York

This report documents how the justice system currently handles 16- and 17-year-old defendants in New York State and presents an evaluation of the Adolescent Diversion Program, a pilot program, launched by NY State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, that links these defendants to age-appropriate services in nine counties.

To access the Center for Court Innovation summary and other relevant resources click here

Law Enforcement Discusses Plans for Harlem Houses After Raid

Phase I was swift, comprehensive and over in a couple of hours. It was executed with military efficiency and resulted in dozens of arrests and 103 charges. And as a meeting this week showed, that means the launch of Phase II, which remains a work in progress, will involve lots of “partnering,” patience and the promise of more meetings in airless rooms, outfitted with drinks and an assortment of snacks.

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New interactive website tracks trends in juvenile detention

The National Center for Juvenile Justice has launched a new interactive website that tracks regional and national trends in the laws and policies for dealing with young offenders.

The site, called Juvenile Justice GPS, includes several maps and graphs that allow users to track and compare state policies in six different juvenile justice categories. One interesting use for the map includes a function to compares the states that treat 16 and/or 17-year-old offenders as adults to states that use 18 as the cut-off.

Click here to read more

Mayor Stands by Police Commissioner on Harlem Raids, Promises More

Mayor Bill de Blasio promised more controversial raids in the city’s public housing projects like the one that swept through the Manhattanville and Ulysses S. Grant Houses last week. Dozens were arrested during the 6 a.m. raid as part of 145-count indictment charging 103 people, some teenagers, in a multitude of gang crimes.

The mayor’s comments came a week after NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton, in an unusual symbolic gesture, led what he called the largest gang raid in the city’s history.

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At 6 a.m. on Wednesday June 4, hundreds of police officers in flak jackets swept through both the Manhattanville and Grant Houses in West Harlem in the largest gang raid in the city’s history.

Click here for a visual recount of events

Juvenile Recidivism Measurement Inconsistent Across States

A quarter of state-level agencies across the country do not currently collect or report juvenile recidivism data, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and the Council of State Governments. The survey, which went out to 50 states and Washington, D.C., found that 33 juvenile corrections agencies reported recidivism data on a regular basis, five reported infrequently and 13 did not report or collect this type of data at all at the state level.

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Notes on Push for Juvenile Justice Act Reauthorization

Are we on the verge of a fresh reauthorization?

Many juvenile justice advocates would like to think so. But with JJPDA, it has been more than a decade of tremors without an earthquake since the last update in November of 2002- and the update is sorely needed to address issues ranging from how to treat status offences, how to strengthen efforts to combat disproportionate minority contact to restoring serious cuts in funding.

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The tragic, maddening failure of America’s juvenile justice system

This article briefly summarizes a compelling new book,Nell Bernstein’s Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. Bernstein is not the first writer to tackle the problem. But she adds vital context to the tragic story.

She eloquently argues that what children need most to break out of these cycles of destruction are stable relationships with adults they can trust and respect. What these young offenders need, in other words, are adults in the juvenile justice system who have the patience and the compassion and the wisdom and the incentive and the training to draw them out from their cycles of crime. But, Bernstein tells us, “virtually every aspect of our juvenile justice system” is “designed to disrupt and deny relationships.”

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From Jails to Joblessness:  Why Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth Need More Than Just a Job 

Studies show that although transitioning youth that hold jobs may be less likely to engage in criminal activity, there is no direct causal relationship between finding employment and less recidivism.  Instead, research suggests it’s actually the change in a young person’s antisocial attitudes and beliefs associated with crime – rather than the paycheck – that accounts for their shift away from crime.  Or, to put it another way, employment is only helpful to the extent that one can keep a job.  A new job must be coupled with new behavior in order to help lower the risk of recidivism.

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