SJ Juvenile Justice Fellows
A Message From Our Juvenile Justice Fellows
The juvenile justice system in the United States stands as one of the prominent bastions of injustice, racial inequality, and perpetuated violence for children. Among other injustices, solitary confinement, physical abuse, suicide risk, and more occur in youth prisons everyday. These injustices are happening to youth who are in need of more than correction but rehabilitation, mentorship, and restoration. As Fellows, we desire to advocate for those affected by the widespread injustices that occur in the juvenile justice system. We envision a juvenile justice system that restores youth to their community and honors human dignity. Our aim is to bring awareness and encourage action from our readers. This task cannot be done alone. Will you join us?
We will update this page as we learn of injustice and of citizens who are working as members of families, churches, and political communities to seek justice.
In The News
Equal Justice USA recently formed the EJUSA Evangelical Network, comprised of Evangelical leaders from across the nation and political spectrum to focus on the transformation of the justice system and response to violence as a whole. They have released a statement which outlines the objectives of the network, which you can sign here.
The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange published an article highlighting the fact that Congress is considering the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017, which has passed in the House but not in the Senate. The complete article can be found here.
The Sentencing Project released another insightful publication into the racial disparities in the current state of youth justice in the U.S. Read the full report here.
Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan released a proclamation that October was Youth Justice Awareness Month. Read more here.
The Campaign for Youth Justice released a report named Raising the Bar: State Trends in Keeping Youth Out Of Adult Courts (2015-2017). Read the full report here.
Legislation in Progress
In late October, Dr. Nazgol Ghandnoosh testified to to DC Council’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on the Youth Rehabilitation Amendment Act of 2017. His testimony provided support for the Act, which calls for an increased investment in rehabilitation and prevention efforts in bystander programs along with raising the eligibility age for the Youth Rehabilitation Amendment (YRA) to age 25 in light of the current recidivism rates. His testimony shows progress in the call for juvenile justice reform, but also highlights the truth that if trends continue, “one in three black teens will be imprisoned at some point in their life.” Read the his compelling testimony here.
The House passed H.R. 1809, reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act on May 23. The Senate has received the bill. H.R. 1809 would allow the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to spend $1.1 billion over the next four years to provide programs to “reduce juvenile justice delinquency, assist runaway and homeless youth, and locate missing children.”
Some states have been active in seeking reform as well:
- California: State Senators Holly Mitchell and Ricardo Lara are working on eight proposals that “center on prevention, rehabilitation and keeping families together.”
- Missouri: Senate Bill 40 and House Bill 274 would allow 17-year-olds to start in the juvenile system, and would place those charged with the most serious crimes to be certified as adults.
- Florida: A civil citations bill passed in the Florida Senate. The bill would require officers to issue civil citations instead of arresting non-violent juvenile offenders and an arrest or conviction would not go on the juvenile's record.
- North Carolina: NC House passed a "raise the age" bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds who have committed misdemeanors and non-felonies to enter the juvenile system, rather than being tried as adults.
Continuing the Conversation
Read about how organizations like Youth First, the Just Policy Institute, and Human Impact Partners are working to make the juvenile justice system more just.
Read More From Shared Justice
Zero-Tolerance Policies and the School to Prison Pipeline
Juvenile Life Without Parole: Pursuing Restorative Justice
The Fees that Keep Juvenile Offenders in Financial Chains
Racial Disparities Reveal a Juvenile "Justice" System that Isn’t All That Just