Home News Center Youth Justice Reform Roundup -- May 2018

Youth Justice Reform Roundup -- May 2018

June 6, 2018
Josh Gordon

Legislative Advances/Actions

Thanks to NJJN members Families and Friends Organizing for Reform of Juvenile Justice and Metropolitan Congregations United, Missouri has raised their age of jurisdiction to 18. The law will go into effect January 1, 2021 and improves public safety, saves taxpayer dollars, and produces better results for vulnerable young people. More here.

NJJN member Children’s Action Alliance in Arizona helped pass legislation that allows the juvenile court to retain jurisdiction up to age 19 for youth adjudicated delinquents, which is intended to help prevent youth from being prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system.  

Through both advocacy and litigation, NJJN member ACLU of South Carolina helped motivate the passage of legislation modifying South Carolina’s disturbing school statute. The statute was a vague law that allowed youth to be arrested for behavior such as talking back to school staff, which disproportionately affected youth of color and resulted in thousands of youth being arrested for normal adolescent behavior. The modification excludes students in their own schools from application of the statute and delineates what specific behavior is prohibited. The change will go a long way  in stemming the school to prison pipeline in South Carolina.

NJJN member Just City of Tennessee has been advocating for 16-year-old Memphian R.H. since March when she was transferred to be tried as an adult and held pre-trial at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary. R.H. spent 43 days in an adult prison awaiting indictment until RFK Human Rights posted her full $60,000 bond. Learn more.

NJJN member Kansas Appleseed and partner organizations halted a jail expansion in Douglas County, Kansas. People of color are disproportionately incarcerated in Douglas County and the successful move to block the jail expansion gives the county the opportunity to reduce its oversized jail population. More here.

NJJN member Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) successfully pushed for the passage of the following reforms:

  • ACT 179 adds FFLIC as a member to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission which is charged to fully implement the juvenile justice reforms of 2003; known as ACT 1225.

  • ACT 600 adds FFLIC to another decision-making table that will make recommendations to the student discipline code that can keep children in school learning and out of the prison system.

  • SR 213 which urges and requests school districts to publish data regarding student discipline.

Thanks to NJJN members Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, SPLC of LA, and FFLIC, Louisiana passed a raft of advances including:

  • SB 106 strengthens a statute establishing hearings for some incarcerated children at which a judge determines if they are rehabilitated and ready to return home.

  • Preventing Louisiana from shackling children in court unless a hearing is requested and a judge determines that they are a safety or flight risk. More here.

  • SB 102 limits mandatory sentences for children. Previously, youth serving “juvenile life” sentences – until their 21st birthdays – could not be released early no matter how well they did in custody. Now, judges can review their progress after a three-year period and bring them home early if warranted. This law can save children years in prison, and give them a greater chance of success when they do come home.

Publications/Resources

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, NJJN member New Jersey Parents’ Caucus (NJPC) released a new brief titled, “The Solitary Confinement of Youth with Mental Health Disabilities in New Jersey’s Adult Prison System.” NJPC seeks to elevate the experiences of youth held in solitary confinement in adult prisons and the incredibly urgent need to end this practice because of its dangerous, disproportionate, and traumatic impact.

Events/Actions

NJJN member Citizens for Juvenile Justice (MA) is looking for runners to join them at the Falmouth Road Race later this summer.

The Management Assistance Group will host a free webinar on systems change with equity lens June 7, 2018.

On October 22-25, 2018, the National Partnership for Juvenile Services will host its 24th National Symposium on Juvenile Services in Greensboro, NC. This event will bring together juvenile and human services leadership and professionals for training and the opportunity to share program approaches being implemented within the juvenile justice system nationwide.

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform recently released a request for applications for the 2018 School-Justice Partnerships and Diversion Pathways Certificate Program. The training will be held September 24-28, 2018 at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center.

Jobs/Opportunities

The Southern Poverty Law Center is hiring a variety of positions including senior and supervising staff attorneys and policy positions in the children's rights divisions. Learn more.

NJJN member Children’s Action Alliance seek a director of finance and operations.

The Massachusetts’ Office of the Child Advocate is hiring a new Director of Juvenile Justice Initiatives.

ACLU of PA seeks a Program Associate to focus on School Policing/School-to-Prison Pipeline. Learn more.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project seeks a senior associate for their juvenile justice-focused policy team in DC.

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