Weekly Round Up (November 20, 2019)

STATE WOULD EXPAND JUVENILE COURTS, HALLS TO 18- AND 19- YEAR-OLDS UNDER PROPOSAL 

California would expand its juvenile-justice system to include 18- and 19-year-olds under a proposal from the state’s probation chiefs, a move they said would allow a more restorative approach for those teenagers but one expert warned could be difficult to implement.

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JUVENILE JUSTICE GROUPS SAY FELONY MURDER CHARGES HARM CHILDREN, YOUNG ADULTS

Felony murder is not your average murder. Juvenile justice advocates call felony murder laws arcane and say they unfairly harm children and young adults. Prosecutors can charge them with felony murder even if they didn’t kill anyone or intend to do so. What’s required is the intent to commit a felony — like burglary, arson or rape — and that someone dies during the process.

Everyone involved in that underlying felony can be held responsible for the death. In some cases, a person who wasn’t even present when the death occurred may face a felony murder charge too. It’s a controversial provision that has been around for hundreds of years. It got its start in England, which abolished the rule in the 1950s. Other countries followed suit.

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JDAI SHIFTS FOCUS TO OVERHAULING PROBATION, INCREASING DIVERSION  

When the Annie E. Casey Foundation launched the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in the tough-on-crime era of the early 1990s, politicians were labeling teenage offenders “superpredators” and states were passing laws making it easier to prosecute kids as adults. Rates of juvenile detention were skyrocketing.

Nearly 30 years later, JDAI’s radical-for-its-time proposition that locking youth up neither improves their behavior nor protects public safety has been borne out.

Average daily juvenile detention populations have been halved in the more than 300 counties across 40 states and Washington, D.C., that have adopted JDAI reforms. Detention admissions are down 57%. In most localities, crime rates have continued to decline.

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University of Houston’s Holiday Candy and Book Drive for the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center

The University of Houston’s Association of Women in Law, the Center for Children, Law, and Policy, and the Criminal Law Association are teaming up to collect books and small wrapped candy on behalf of the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center.

ALL books and ALL (individually wrapped) candy are helpful and welcomed! Every contribution means one more child with something to look forward to during the holidays.

The book drive/ candy drop-off is in the commons and will be available from Friday, November 15th until Friday, December 13th.

If you are interested in donating to the drive or if you have any questions, please feel free to email kmsheeha@central.uh.edu!

Weekly Roundup (October 29, 2019)

FEDERAL GRANT OF $230K TO PROVIDE COUNSELING FOR GANG-INVOLVED TEENS AND FAMILIES 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday an award of $230,000 to Bexar County Juvenile Probation to help alleviate gang activity and to provide specialized treatment for gang-involved teens and their families.

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DESPITE VICTORIES, JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM STILL NEEDS WORK IN CONNECTICUT, ADVOCATES SAY 

Keeping kids off the streets and out of the system. Connecticut has made many juvenile justice reforms, but still has a lot of work to do, according to advocates and the outgoing Chief State’s Attorney.

Right now, all aspect of Connecticut’s juvenile justice system are under review by the Council of State Governments Justice Center. At the same time, the Improving Outcomes for Youth Statewide task force is analyzing data and will issue a report with best practices and policy ideas that is expected out sometime in January.

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WOULD MORE SUPPORT KEEP SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS OUT OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM?

On a tour of the Juvenile Services Center in Cheyenne, Sgt. Jay Stewart explains that juvenile offenders stay here for an average of 49 days. But whether they’re here for a week or a year, kids are required to go to school.

“Education for us is huge,” said Stewart. “If they are not getting their education, they continue down that same path.” The path Stewart is referring to leads to prison. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, adults without high school diplomas are more likely to be incarcerated.

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