All in Ideas and Opinions

Michigan lawmakers should lose no more time giving 17-year-olds access to juvenile court

Michigan is one of only five states that automatically prosecute all 17-year-old offenders as adults. Lawmakers introduced bills last year to raise the age of adult criminal liability to 18, but put the discussion on hold while a consulting firm conducted a cost study to determine the proposal’s financial impact. The study’s completion in early March has put the ball back in the legislature’s court. Although imperfect, the study can help policymakers with their efforts to enact the change, and Michigan should lose no time in joining the other states that have already done so.

How to Stop Locking Up Kids

Prisons are factories of abuse and violence in this country, says Norris, and we must fundamentally rethink how and why we use them. “Our hope is to bring in a whole new status quo—which means, not ‘alternative,’ which means a new main thing,” he says. “And I think that main thing should be centers of opportunity and restorative justice.”

Cuyahoga County looks to Dayton as model for rehabilitating youth, reducing juvenile crime

A Jan. 8 riot at the Juvenile Detention Center - coupled with a rise in violent crimes involving juveniles - has reignited calls for reform from O'Malley and city council members. The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court's administrative judge said she would be open to a process to allow dangerous inmates to be held in a separate wing at the adult Cuyahoga County Jail. But that would require a change in state law, and advocates argue it would run counter to the juvenile court's core mission of rehabilitating young offenders.

O'Malley pointed to the Montgomery County Juvenile Court's Intervention Center as a possible inspiration for criminal justice reform in Cuyahoga County. The Intervention Center assesses young offenders in the hours after an arrest to determine if there are any underlying issues -- such mental health or behavioral issues, or problems at home or at school -- that could be addressed through specialized services.

Is it now inevitable that all states will raise the age?

This year, legislators in both New York and North Carolina took great steps towards improving public safety and providing meaningful rehabilitative services to young people across their states. Elected leaders in both of these states raised the age at which youth will be handled in family court, joining the growing national consensus that youth under 18 years of age should not be in the adult criminal justice system.

Choose community programs over youth prisons to punish juveniles

Sometimes Congress gets it right. This summer, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing on juvenile justice reform. The hearing was a call to end the draconian practices of institutionalizing America’s juvenile offenders. The committee's chairman, U.S Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) stated in his opening remarks, “We can all agree that Juvenile offenders must be treated differently than adult offenders.”

For juvenile offenders, art can be an outlet

PEORIA — Unusually long and wide, the main hallway at the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center would be intimidating if there weren’t the giant frog at one end.

The frog sits on a lily pad in a placid blue pond surrounded by cattails and a perfect summer sky, offering respite in a very serious setting. Between the vibrant color, the charming kid-friendly illustration, and the wonders of the natural world, the scene is a pleasant oasis for both the center’s young residents and the adults who work there.