3 Stories You May Have Missed During #YJAM


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1) Earlier this month, WPLN in partnership with ProPublica published an investigation into wrongdoing in the juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee. The story centers around the 2016 arrest of ten black elementary school students who had been caught on video witnessing a fight; the children were charged with “criminal responsibility for the conduct of another,” which is not in fact a punishable offense under the state’s criminal code. Investigators uncovered grossly problematic judicial oversight and widespread departmental misconduct—including the use of an illegal “filter system” for processing juveniles into detention—in a county that jails children at a rate nearly 10 times the national average.

https://wpln.org/post/black-children-were-jailed-for-a-crime-that-doesnt-exist-almost-nothing-happened-to-the-adults-in-charge/

As a result of this reporting, eleven members of Congress have petitioned the Department of Justice to conduct an official investigation into Rutherford County’s juvenile justice system.

https://wpln.org/post/members-of-congress-are-asking-for-an-investigation-into-rutherford-countys-juvenile-court-following-wplns-report/

2) Last week, the New York Times published an article detailing the abuse faced by children in Texas’ juvenile detention centers. According to interviewees, detention facilities are short-staffed—partly due to the pandemic—and without adequate supervision, kids confined to their rooms grow restless and are more likely to act out. Staff members have resorted to the use of physical violence to maintain order: unruly detainees have been subjected to beatings, pepper spray, as well as solitary confinement. These problems have persisted in the state’s juvenile justice system for decades despite numerous reform efforts and lawsuits brought by various child advocacy organizations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/us/politics/texas-juvenile-prisons-abuse.html

3) Just this week, over 200 people imprisoned for crimes committed as juveniles in Oregon may become eligible for parole hearings or conditional releases under Governor Kate Brown’ s new commutation plan. The plan operates as a sort of constitutional salve for inmates serving time under the state’s mandatory sentencing measures regarding serious offenses. The governor’s order—which some experts have called “unprecedented”— emphasizes the importance of adolescent development considerations and the potential for rehabilitation for individuals incarcerated at a young age.

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/10/21/oregon-governor-grants-review-hearing-for-some-juvenile-offenders/

https://kobi5.com/news/local-news/hundreds-of-oregons-serious-juvenile-offenders-may-be-granted-clemency-under-commutation-plan-171229/

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