Recently a trial judge in Washington state’s King County Superior Court discussed his three years presiding in juvenile court. Roger Rogoff described this time as “the most emotionally-charged, inspiring and terrifying of my 25-year legal career,” citing the complicated and conflicting nature of the juvenile justice system as well as the tension, apprehension and nuances of decision-making in this environment.
While Rogoff repeats a common plea for more resources for juvenile justice, he also argues a powerful case for needing more expertise, support and thoughtful consideration.
Over the last two decades, states across the U.S. — including Maryland — have shifted their approach to juvenile justice.
In 2018, the total number of juvenile detention admissions on the lower Eastern Shore dropped 12 percent from the previous year, according to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.
While there are many factors that may have contributed to the intake decline, the department’s community-based treatment programs likely played a role. These services have been scientifically proven to reduce recidivism rates at a fraction of the cost of treating a juvenile inside a detention facility.
The push for community-based treatment for Maryland juveniles came to the forefront in 2014 when the state announced it had set aside $225 million to build three new juvenile detention facilities.
Two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old sued the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice on Thursday, alleging their health and well-being were put in danger when the state placed them in solitary confinement.
Lawyers representing the three minors in the federal lawsuit are seeking to overturn an agency policy that they contend allows juveniles to be placed in isolation with “no meaningful social interaction, environmental stimulation, outdoor recreation, schooling or property.”