Weekly Roundup

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Kansas Juvenile Justice Overhauls Long Overdue, Christopher Zoukis March 30, 2016

“After nine months of individual and committee work, the Kansas Senate has approved several long-overdue recommendations to overhaul the current juvenile justice system to reduce recidivism as well as unnecessary costs on governments. A working group of Kansas governors recommended sweeping changes to the state system in an overwhelming 38-2 vote on Feb. 23, saying community-based programs, including counseling and therapy, will be emphasized over incarceration. Last Thursday, the state senate passed a bill approving the overhaul, and it’s now up to Gov. Sam Brownback to give the final stamp of approval.”


“National attention is focused on racial and economic discrimination in the criminal justice system. Racially disproportionate interaction with the system leaves people of color with significantly more court-related debt. While criminal court debt has been described and condemned in the adult system, this issue has received virtually no attention in the juvenile system, where fees undermine rehabilitative goals.

This report presents research findings about the practice of assessing and collecting fees on families with youth in the juvenile system in Alameda County, California. The County charges these fees to thousands of families who are already struggling to maintain economic and social stability, and the financial burden appears to fall most heavily on families of color. Although the fees are supposed to help the county recoup expenses, its own data suggest that the County barely recovers the most direct costs of collection.

The report calls for an immediate moratorium and repeal on the assessment and collection of these regressive and racially discriminatory fees (NB: On March 29, 2019, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors imposed a fees moratorium and asked the relevant county departments to prepare for a full repeal by June 28, 2016).”

Momentum builds for Delaware Juvenile Justice Reform, Matthew Albright March 28, 2016

“If you get arrested as a juvenile in Delaware, the police and court records are difficult to erase – even if the charges are dropped. Repercussions can last a lifetime, ruining chances at school admissions, housing options and job opportunities.

Those who defend and advocate for youth in the courts say clients often aren’t aware that they need to take steps to clean up their records. Even for those who do know, the process of getting records expunged can become a major bureaucratic headache, because Delaware hasn’t taken steps other states have to make the process easy and practical. One national organization ranked the state second to last in the country for its expungement process.” […]

“Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, said it will likely take time for the General Assembly to work with Denn’s office, the public defender, courts and the law enforcement community to iron out the details of a better expungement process.

“I think we need to take the long way home on this,” he said. “We’re not in the business of letting people off easy, but we also very much are in the business of being fair. I think we need to have a thorough vetting to figure out where that fairness is.”

Lopez said he thinks there’s broad support for changes to the system.

“There is a wide area for compromise,” he said. “I think it’s extremely important that this be a bi-partisan thing that happens outside of politics.””



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