Two Teens Reflect on the Experience of Incarceration

A few blog posts back there was an article calling for those involved in juvenile justice to approach this work from a perspective that asks “what if this was my kid?” Today, we get another chance to humanize our efforts. Who, exactly, are the young people behind the bars? Two teen writers from Represent, a national magazine by and for youth in foster care, vividly and candidly describe the circumstances behind their incarceration in two stories from the latest issue. Najet Miah, who is in her second year of an eight-year term in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, writes about a typical day in prison in “One Day (of 2,920) in Prison,” while the author of “Crimes and Punishments” explains which punishments inspired him to straighten up after he was incarcerated three times. To read this article click here

Juvenile Justice & Afterschool — An Important Connection

For almost 40 years, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has supported the work of afterschool programs to protect young people and promote safe communities.  While just one part of the whole JJDPA picture, funding for evidence-based afterschool programs has empowered communities to implement innovative programs that provide opportunities to engage young people in their own futures. This week, JJDPA will be on our minds as more than one million Americans and thousands of communities nationwide celebrate Lights On Afterschool, an annual event that helps to raise awareness about the need for afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. To read more click here

 The Shame of Our Prisons: New Evidence by David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow

The BJS has just released a third edition of its National Inmate Survey (NIS), which covers prisons and jails, and a second edition of its National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC). These studies confirm some of the most important findings from earlier surveys—among others, the still poorly understood fact that an extraordinary number of female inmates and guards commit sexual violence. They also reveal new aspects of a variety of problems, including (1) the appalling (though, from state to state, dramatically uneven) prevalence of sexual misconduct by staff members in juvenile detention facilities; (2) the enormous and disproportionate number of mentally ill inmates who are abused sexually; and (3) the frequent occurrence of sexual assault in military detention facilities. To read more click here

Improving the Court’s Response to Status Offenders

Status offenses commonly refer to conduct that would not be unlawful if committed by an adult but is unlawful only because of a child or youth’s legal status as a minor. We are now approaching the last quarter of 2013 and the subject of status offenders and what we should do with them or for them is still an active subject of discussion within the framework of our juvenile justice systems, and rightfully so. To read this judge’s take on an appropriate response for status offenses click here

Supporting Schools to Improve Students’ Engagement and Juvenile Justice Outcomes

The Council of State of Governments (CSG) Justice Center is launching a national consensus-building project that will convene experts in such fields as school safety, behavioral health, education, juvenile justice, social services, law enforcement, and child welfare. Youth, parents, and community partners will also play a critical and active role in the project to develop creative solutions. To read more click here