All in Ideas and Opinions

Juvenile justice reform based on simple truth: ‘You can’t punish the bad out of kids’

Over the past decade or so, our county and our state have been in the forefront of a national movement to rethink what “juvenile justice” is. This movement is based on recent research on brain development, and how it is impaired by childhood traumatic experiences such as domestic violence, abuse, neglect, and poverty. It’s also based on evidence about what kinds of programs and services really help kids overcome adversity and develop the skills they need to lead meaningful, satisfying, and law-abiding lives.

With fewer juvenile offenders locked up, an unexpected consequence arises for schools that teach them

Schopen teaches at a juvenile detention center for children serving time for committing felony crimes — assault, burglary, murder, manslaughter, arson. Four out of five students have mental-health or substance-abuse issues and struggle to control their emotions. About half have learning disabilities and are many grade levels behind. It’s hard to imagine a more difficult place to teach.

Memphis students, once in juvenile detention, offer ideas to reduce suspensions

Students were teaching adults this week as Memphis student advocates shared their recommendations on how to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.

Six students at G.W. Carver College and Career Academy, an alternative school, worked for months on suggestions for Shelby County Schools leaders that they believe will lead to safer schools, more engaged students and more academic success.

Why the U.S. has seen a collapse in violent youth crime

When the youth crime rate started to drop in the late 1990s, it wasn’t a surprise to law enforcement experts. Crime is cyclical, with spikes and declines spurred by social, political and economic conditions.

But no one expected the large decrease in juvenile crime to linger, or to continue to dip for the next 20 years across a range of offenses — from violent assaults and homicides to minor theft and truancy — with no indication that the trend will be reversed.

Opinion | The miseducation of Michigan: How state fails kids in black history

As Black History Month unfolds this month and schools ramp up teaching about the subject, there’s still plenty of disagreement across the state and nation about how best to teach the subject. Should African-American history lessons focus on the struggles such as slavery and the civil rights movement but not also give greater attention to the accomplishments of African Americans?

For teens in juvenile hall, a new book club is a place to relax – and an opportunity

The teenage detainees at the Juvenile Justice Center in Fresno don’t have a lot of choices – certainly not about what time they wake up to begin their day with stretches and push-ups, nor how long they can linger over breakfast before they go to classes, nor, on weekends, whether they clean up their cells.

But once a month, 10 of them choose to discuss literature.

In Pursuit of Justice for Children

National research shows that nearly half of the youth in the juvenile justice system are performing below grade level in reading and math, many are marginally literate or illiterate, and most have a history of significant truancy and grade retention. About two out of three students drop out after exiting the juvenile justice system.

Here are several strategies that can make a difference.

In a Utah Courthouse, Justice for Youth Comes With Shackles

Under a 2015 amendment to Utah’s juvenile-offender laws, shackles for minors were restricted only to those judged a flight risk or who might harm others. A subsequent rule enacted by the Utah Judicial Council, allowed a judge to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a youth should be shackled to be restrained in court.

Yet that judicial rule has an exception for “exigent circumstances.” And in Manti, court officials say the outdated Sanpete County Courthouse presents security issues that require them to routinely shackle youths.