Weekly Round Up

ExtractAdam Foss wants to reinvent the cycle that defines the American criminal justice system. The former Boston-area prosecutor spent more than six years as an assistant district attorney, mostly working in the juvenile division. Prosecutors, he said, play a pivotal role in our justice system — they wield the power to offer alternative sentencing and diversion programs for young people. According to Foss, prison isn’t always the answer. Globally, the U.S. incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country, with more than 2.2 million individuals currently behind bars. It’s a phenomenon that affects blacks and Latinos at a vastly disproportionate rate than white offenders.”

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“Prosecutor Integrity and Legend’s #FreeAmerica campaign are part of a larger, growing movement among the creative community to tackle America’s mass incarceration epidemic. Of the millions of youth arrested each year, 95 percent are arrested for nonviolent crimes, including truancy, “criminal mischief” and other low level offenses. These are offenses that, all too often, land black and brown youth in court, stigmatizing minors with cases that aren’t worthy of a criminal record.”

Extract “Although certain kinds of crimes may rise during the summer months — for juveniles it may be crimes such as theft of bikes, there isn’t enough solid national data to suggest that summer crime waves among juveniles are a real source of concern. And contrary to popular belief, the spike in crime typically doesn’t happen after curfew. Although the spike in violent crime by juvenile offenders tends to happen at 3 pm on school days and 7 to 9 pm on non-school days, 63 percent of violent crimes happen on school days according to U.S. Department of Justice data.

To make matters worse, although this kind of summer activity is pretty common across race and social class, according to a paper from the Annie Casey Foundation, the kids being penalized for it are usually low-income and children of color. That’s because curfew laws are enforced in predominantly black and Hispanic and low-income neighborhoods.”

“The Gambia and Tanzania have banned child marriage, with tough penalties for those who breach the rulings. Gambia’s President Yayha Jammeh announced that anyone marrying a girl below 18 would be jailed for up to 20 years. In Tanzania, the high court imposed a landmark ruling outlawing marriage under the age of 18 for boys and girls. Some 30% of underage girls are married in The Gambia, while in Tanzania the rate is 37%.Before the Tanzania ruling, girls as young as 14 could marry with parental consent, while it was 18 for boys. The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela in Dar es Salaam says this is a big win for child rights groups and activists, who will now have an easier time rescuing girls from child marriage. The case was brought by lobby group Msichana Initiative. Gambia’s President speaking at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan, said parents and imams who perform the ceremonies would also face prison. “If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see,” he warned. Women’s rights campaigners have welcomed the ban, however some say that it would be better to engage with local communities to try to change attitudes towards child marriage instead of threatening families with prison sentences, “I don’t think locking parents up is the answer… it could lead to a major backlash and sabotage the ban,” Isatou Jeng of the women’s rights organisation Girls Agenda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the Gambian capital, Banjul. In December last year, Mr Jammeh also outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM), with a prison sentence of up to three years for those that ignored the ban. He said the practice had no place in Islam or in modern society. Three-quarters of women in the mostly Muslim country have had the procedure, according to Unicef.

Camille Van Kote

About Camille Van Kote

Camille Van Kote is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from Barnard College in 2012. As an undergraduate, she worked as an AmeriCorps member for Jumpstart for Young Children. She was also involved with the Columbia Child Rights Group, where she spearheaded various campus-wide events, including film screenings, conferences and fundraisers, to promote awareness on children’s issues. She interned at Tahirih Justice Center and Kids in Need of Defense, working with courageous women and unaccompanied minors fleeing violence. This past summer, she interned at the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, an NGO advocating for sexual and reproductive rights as human rights.

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