All in Ideas and Opinions
There are too many cases like Nigel Shelby, and not enough like Zion Wade.
At Los Angeles County’s Central Juvenile Hall, the largest of the county’s three juvenile halls, 93 percent of its youth residents have open mental health cases.
At Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, CA, the percentage of kids with open mental health cases is at 96 percent, according to the most recent report submitted to the board of LA County Supervisors in late April by Jonathan Sharin, MD, the head of the county’s Department of Mental Health.
As The Times recently reported, the Probation Department’s halls and camps housing juvenile offenders are in such disarray that large numbers of staffers don’t report for work out of fear. Those who do show up often have to work double shifts, which leads to exhaustion. Riots by detained youths, previously a rarity, now occur with regularity.
Black girls are being criminalized at alarming rates. Experts say there are ways to make sure that doesn't happen.
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.
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.
J. Wesley St. Clair has been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and a judge. His last eight years on the bench were in juvenile court.
Judge St. Clair is retiring, and we wanted to hear his thoughts on juvenile justice in King County. Here's what he said.
“It's not like those young people don't need something. They just don't need a probation officer. They don't need searches and monitors and surveillance. They need adults in the community who care about them to engage them.”
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.
A recent report states that car thefts have been steadlity increasing in smaller towns while decreasing in larger cities. The crimes are being committed primarily by juveniles who simply open the car doors and drive off with the car's key fob inside.
“In California, homicides of juveniles dropped 83 percent—from 382 in 1995 to 63 in 2017, the latest state data show. Youth arrests for violent felonies in the state dropped 68 percent—from 22,601 in 1994 to 7,291 in 2017.” But while crime has fallen, spending on crime has not.
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.
I know Superior Court judges care for the children who come before them, but good intentions cannot redeem a broken and racist system.
Historical trauma in different communities plays a role and has a potentially major impact on how we parent, culturally and inter-generationally. For better or worse, we are generally raised the way our parents, and their parents’ parents were raised. Although anomalies exist, it’s difficult to break the trauma cycle, let alone become conscious of it.
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?
Attempts to reform the way criminals are sentenced and how much time they spend behind bars have made little headway in the Florida legislature in recent years.
But following the passage of federal criminal justice reform in December, it seems state legislators from both parties may be ready to take a new look at reforming the state’s prison system.
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.
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.
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.
The kid who kicked the classroom trash can is still stuck in juvenile courts three years later — and that bugs the former prosecutor who handled his case.