All in Criminal Justice News

Juvenile justice advocates look to raise age of criminal responsibility to 18

Austin high school student Elijah Corpus spent one month behind bars for drug possession when he was 17. An alternative school, though, had the bigger impact, he said.

Now 18, he's helping lawmakers, advocates and other students push the state to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18. Under state law, 17-year-olds are treated as adults in criminal cases. Supporters say 17-year-olds are minors and that throwing them in lockups with adults can put them in harm's way, cause mental anguish and usher them toward a life of crime. Treatment, in the juvenile justice system, is the better answer, they say.

Proposal would expand juvenile justice system above age 18

BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers are looking at changes to the Massachusetts criminal justice system, which could keep teenagers away from adult prisons.

The proposal could make Massachusetts the first state in the country to raise the age of juvenile court past 18. Four state lawmakers have filed a bill to include young adults in the juvenile justice system, rather than sending them to adult prisons.

Supporters say the proposal would reduce crime, save taxpayer dollars, and give 18 to 21 year-olds a second chance.

Juvenile detention centers struggle with transgender inmates

PORTLAND, Maine –  The nation's juvenile detention centers are largely ill-equipped to handle transgender teens, leaving them vulnerable to bullying, sexual assault, depression and suicide, advocates say.

Young transgender people are too often sent to girls' or boys' lockups based on their anatomy, not their gender identity, and can end up suffering psychologically and getting picked on by other inmates or staff members, according to advocacy groups. Even when they are assigned to detention centers that correspond to their gender identity, they are often victimized.

When a Sibling Goes to Prison


Over 5 million kids in the United States currently have or have had a parent in prison. That works out to about one in 14 American children—a majority of whom are under age 10. Broken down by state, children with incarcerated parents can represent 3 to 13 percent of the population, according to “A Shared Sentence,” a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The unusually intense stress that these children face has been well documented and studied. That’s mostly due to researchers’ emphasis on the parent-child relationship when analyzing incarcerated populations—and how little support is available for those left-behind children who are forced to stand by as their primary role models, caregivers, and providers are put behind bars.

But incarceration also affects a separate number of children who have been isolated from another profound relationship: They are the children with siblings in jail or prison—and much less is known about them. It isn’t even clear how many of them there are.

Why Gov. Jerry Brown (D-California) is staking so much on overhauling prison parole

Few California voters likely know much, if anything, about the state Board of Parole Hearings — from the qualifications of the 12 commissioners to their success in opening the prison gates for only those who can safely return to the streets.

And yet Gov. Jerry Brown’s sweeping overhaul of prison parole, Proposition 57, is squarely a question of whether those parole officials should be given additional latitude to offer early release to potentially thousands of prisoners over the next few years.