Campaign for Youth Justice


Published on

Published in: News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Campaign for Youth Justice

  1. 1. State TrendsrizonA ColorAdo ConneCtiCut delAwAre GeorGiA illinois indiAnA MAinississippi nevAdA new York oreGon pennsYlvAniA texAs utAh virGiniAshinGton ArizonA ColorAdo ConneCtiCut delAwAre GeorGiA illinondiAnA MAine Mississippi nevAdA new York oreGon pennsYlvAniA texAtAh virGiniA wAshinGton ArizonA ColorAdo ConneCtiCut delAwAreorGiA illinois indiAnA MAine Mississippi nevAdA new York oreGoennsYlvAniA texAs utAh virGiniA wAshinGton ArizonA ColorAdonneCtiCut delAwAre GeorGiA illinois indiAnA MAine Mississippi nevAdew York oreGon pennsYlvAniA texAs utAh virGiniA wAshinGton ArizonolorAdo ConneCtiCut delAwAre GeorGiA illinois indiAnA MAine MississippevAdA new York oreGon pennsYlvAniA texAs utAh virGiniA wAshinGtorizonA ColorAdo ConneCtiCut delAwAre GeorGiA illinois indiAnA MAinississippi nevAdA new York oreGon pennsYlvAniA texAs utAh virGiniAshinGton ArizonA ColorAdo ConneCtiCut delAwAre GeorGiA illinondiAnA Legislative Victories from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System
  2. 2. The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national organization dedicated to ending thepractice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adultcriminal justice system. CFYJ dedicates this report to the thousands of young people and theirfamilies across the country who have been harmed by laws and policies of the criminal justicesystem; the Governors, State Legislators, State Officials, and Local Officials who championedthese reforms; and the continuing efforts of individuals and organizations who are leadingefforts to return youth to the juvenile justice system, including:Action for Children North Carolina Mississippi Youth Justice ProjectBaltimore Algebra Project MS-ACLUChildren’s Action Alliance NAACPCitizens for Juvenile Justice Nebraska Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of YouthColorado Criminal Defense Bar Nevada ACLUColorado Juvenile Defenders Coalition New York Governor’s Children’s Cabinet AdvisoryColumbia Legal Services BoardConnecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance New York Center for Juvenile JusticeDelaware Center for Justice Partnership for Safety and JusticeDelaware Collaboration for Youth Raise the Bar campaignFamilies and Allies of Virginia’s Youth (FAVY) Rhode Island Kids CountFamilies and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Rhode Island ACLUChildren Southern Poverty Law CenterIllinois Juvenile Justice Initiative Team ChildIndiana Juvenile Justice Task Force, Inc. The Embracing ProjectInjustice Project Voices for Children in NebraskaJust Kids Partnership Washington Coalition for the Just Treatment of YouthJustChildren Wisconsin Council on Children & FamiliesJuvenile Justice Project of Louisiana Wyoming Kids CountMississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Youth Justice ProjectSchoolhouse to Jailhouse
  3. 3. ContentsA Letter From Liz Ryan, CEO of the Campaign For Youth Justice ......................................2Overview.......................................................................................................................6Understanding the Consequences of Trying Youth as Adults............................................8 Teen Brains Are Not Fully Developed ...........................................................................................................................9 Most Youth in the Adult System Are Convicted of Minor Crimes................................................................................... 13 Youth Are Often Housed in Adult Jails and Prisons ..................................................................................................... 15 Prosecuting Youth in the Adult System Leads to More Crime, Not Less ........................................................................ 17 Youth Have Lifelong Barriers to Employment ............................................................................................................. 18 Youth of Color Are Disproportionately Impacted by These Policies .............................................................................. 19Four Trends to Watch ...................................................................................................20 States and Local Jurisdictions Remove Youth from Adult Jails and Prisons ..................................................................24 States Raise the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction .....................................................................................................29 States Change Transfer Laws to Keep More Youth in Juvenile Court ............................................................................33 States Rethink Sentencing Laws for Youth .................................................................................................................. 41Recommendations for Policymakers ............................................................................44
  4. 4. A Letter from Liz Ryan “Children have an extraordinary capacity for rehabilitation.” – California State Senator Leland Yee2
  5. 5. S temming from one family’s individual case, we launched the Campaign for Youth Justice(CFYJ) five years ago to respond to a crisis through- the stigma of an adult criminal conviction. They may have difficulty finding a job or getting a col- lege degree to help them turn their lives around.out the country: an estimated 250,000 youth under We also know these laws have had a disproportion-18 are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice sys- ate impact on youth of color.tem every year. The consequences of an adult conviction aren’t mi-A spike in youth crime during the 1980s and 1990s nor; they are serious, long-term, life-threatening,prompted state policymakers to expand laws to put and in some cases, deadly. However, awarenessmore children in adult court, implement mandatory of the problem is not enough. Policymakers andsentencing policies for certain crimes, and lower the public must have viable alternative solutions.the age at which a child could be prosecuted as This report, State Trends: Legislative Changesan adult. State policymakers from 2005-2010 Removingbelieved their efforts would Youth from the Adult Criminalimprove public safety and Justice System, provides somedeter future crime. However, initial answers by examiningstudies across the nation have State Trends innovative strategies states areconsistently concluded that using to remove and protectstate laws prosecuting youth demonstrates a youth in the adult criminal jus-in adult court are ineffective tice deterring crime and reduc- “turning tide” ining recidivism. State Trends demonstrates how our country a “turning tide” in how ourFour years ago we issued country handles youth. In theour first national report, The handles youth. not-so-distant past, politiciansConsequences Aren’t Minor, have had their careers ruineddocumenting the multiple by a “soft on crime” image.unintended consequences of Fortunately, the politics aroundthese laws. With the help of the National Council youth crime are changing. State policymakers ap-on Crime and Delinquency and the Justice Policy pear less wedded to “tough on crime” policies,Institute, we analyzed all of the available research choosing to substitute them with policies that areand conducted interviews with dozens of incarcer- “smart on crime.” Given the breadth and scope ofated youth in adult jails and prisons in states all the changes, these trends are not short-term anom-over the country. alies but evidence of a long-term restructuring of the juvenile justice system.We found that youth tried as adults face the samepunishments as adults. They can be placed in adult In the past five years, 15 states have changedjails pre- and post-trial, sentenced to serve time in their state laws, with at least nine additional statesadult prisons, or be placed on adult probation with with active policy reform efforts underway. Thesefew to no rehabilitative services. Youth also are changes are occurring in all regions of the countrysubject to the same sentencing guidelines as adults spearheaded by state and local officials of both ma-and may receive mandatory minimum sentences in- jor parties and supported by a bipartisan group ofcluding life without parole. The only consequence governors.that youth cannot receive is the death penalty.When youth leave jail or prison, are on probation, As a society, we still have a long way to go to meetor have completed their adult sentences, they carry the original promise of the juvenile court which 3
  6. 6. was founded in Chicago over 100 years ago. Our rather than approaches that harm youth and de- legal system recognizes a mandate to rehabilitate crease public safety. These reforms draw a higher youth with an approach that is different than adults, “return on investment,” reduce wasteful spending, but we have never fully lived up to it. Today, all 50 and cost less over the long term. According to a states and the District of Columbia, as well as the senior researcher at the Urban Institute, returning federal government have two distinct systems for youth to juvenile court jurisdiction will result in a dealing with adults and youth. While the majority $3 savings benefit for every $1 spent. of youth arrested for criminal acts are prosecuted in state juvenile justice systems, far too many youth We applaud these efforts to “turn the tide,” and we are still handled by the adult criminal justice sys- challenge federal, state and local policymakers to tem – to the detriment of public safety, these youth transform this tide into a wave of reform across the and our society. country. We hope that policymakers will greatly expand upon the reforms profiled in this report, especially Liz Ryan as they have broad public support and make fiscal sense in these challenging economic times. These CEO of the Campaign For Youth Justice policy reforms draw on the public’s support of in- vestment in rehabilitation and treatment of youth,4
  7. 7. How a Youth Ends Up in the Adult Justice System Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction Transfer and Waiver Provisions These laws determine the age of adulthood for criminal jus- These laws allow young people to be prosecuted in adult tice purposes. They effectively remove certain age groups courts if they are accused of committing certain crimes. from the juvenile court control for all infractions, whether A variety of mechanisms exist by which a youth can be violent or nonviolent, and place them within the adult court transferred to adult court. Most states have transfer pro- jurisdiction. Thirteen states have defined the age of juve- visions, but they vary in how much authority they allow nile court jurisdiction as below the generally accepted age judges and prosecutors to exercise. of 18 years old. Judicial Waiver Prosecutorial Waiver Almost all states have judicial waiv- These laws grant prosecutors discre- er provisions which is the most tra- tion to file cases against young people ditional and common transfer and in either juvenile or adult court. Such waiver provision. Under judicial provisions are also known as “concur- waiver laws, the case originates in rent jurisdiction,” “prosecutorial dis- juvenile court. Under certain cir- cretion,” or “direct file.” Fifteen states cumstances, the juvenile court judge have concurrent jurisdiction provi- has the authority to waive juvenile sions. court jurisdiction and transfer the case to criminal court. State statutes vary in how much guidance they provide judges on the criteria used in Reverse Waiver determining if a youth’s case should This is a mechanism to allow youth be transferred. Some states call the whose cases are being prosecuted in process “certification,” “remand,” adult court to be transferred back down or “bind over for criminal prosecu- to the juvenile court system under cer- tion.” Others “transfer” or “decline tain circumstances. Half of the states jurisdiction.” have reverse waiver provisions. Statutory or “Once an Adult, Always Legislative Exclusion an Adult” These laws exclude certain youth from juvenile court jurisdiction en- These laws require youth who have tirely by requiring particular types been tried as adults to be prosecuted of cases to originate in criminal automatically in adult courts for any rather than juvenile court. More subsequent offenses. Two-thirds of the than half of the states have statutory states have such provisions, but most exclusion laws on the books. require the youth to have been convict- ed in the initial criminal prosecution. Blended Sentencing These laws allow juvenile or adult courts to choose between juvenile and adult correctional sanctions in sentencing certain youth. Courts often will combine a juvenile sentence with a suspended adult sentence, which allows the youth to remain in the juvenile justice system as long as he or she is well-behaved. Half of the states have laws allowing blended sentencing in some cases.Source: Campaign for Youth Justice, National Center for Juvenile Justice 5
  8. 8. Overview “Without question, youth must be held accountable for their actions, but justice should not be driven by fads or politics.” – Congressman George Miller6
  9. 9. I n the rush to crack down on youth crime in the 1980s and 1990s, many states enacted harshlaws making it easier for youth to be prosecuted in Defender Center and the Na- tional Conference of State Legislatures.4 The legisla-adult criminal courts. Every state allows youth to tive scan identified 15 statesbe prosecuted as adults by one of several mecha- that have changed their statenisms such that an estimated 250,000 children are laws, in four categories.prosecuted, sentenced, or incarcerated as adultseach year in the United States.1 In more than halfof the states, there is no lower age limit on who can Trend 1be prosecuted as an adult. This means that in these Four states (Colorado,states very young children, even a 7-year-old, can Maine, Virginia and Penn-be prosecuted as adults. 2 sylvania) have passed laws limiting the ability to houseWhen youth are tried in adult courts, they often youth in adult jails and pris-face the same sentencing guidelines as adult of- ons.fenders. In the majority of cases a juvenile courtjudge has not had an opportunity to evaluate thecircumstances of the case before a youth is pros-ecuted as an adult, and adult criminal court judges Trend 2often have very little discretion in the type of sen- Three states (Connecticut,tence they can impose on a youth convicted in the Illinois, and Mississippi)adult system. Incarcerating children in the adult have expanded their juve-system puts them at higher risk of abuse, injury, nile court jurisdiction so thatand death while they are in the system, and makes older youth who previously would be automaticallyit more likely that they will reoffend once they get tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminalout. court.At the time the laws were passed, few policymak-ers understood these consequences. Now they do. Trend 3Politics has caught up with public opinion and now Ten states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Del-seems to reflect what 90% of Americans believe – aware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, Virginiathat rehabilitative services and treatment for incar- and Washington) have changed their transfer lawscerated youth can prevent future crimes.3 making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.State Trends: Legislative Changes from 2005 to2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Jus-tice System provides state policymakers, the media, Trend 4the public, and advocates for reform with the lat- Four states (Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and Wash-est information about youth in the adult criminal ington) have all changed their mandatory minimumjustice system. The first half of this report explains sentencing laws to take into account the develop-the dangers to youth, public safety, and the overall mental differences between youth and adults.prosperity of our economy and future generations.The second half of the report looks at legislativereforms aimed at removing youth from the crimi-nal justice system by examining state juvenile jus-tice legislation compiled by the National Juvenile 7
  10. 10. Understanding the Consequences of Trying Youth as Adults “When a kid commits a crime, society shouldn’t give up on that kid.” – Congressman Chris Murphy8
  11. 11. Teen Brains Are Not Fully DevelopedA s any parent knows, teenagers are works in progress. They do not have the same abilitiesas adults to make sound judgments in complex sit- specific arrest rates we can see that youth is a time characterized by delinquency that then sharply drops off. In fact, engaging in delinquent activi-uations, to control their impulses, or to plan effec- ties is a normal part of the adolescent experience.tively for the long term. Recent brain science has Almost all of the readers of this report will likelybeen able to demonstrate why it is that adolescents be able to recall participating in an activity duringact the way they do. their adolescence that violates at least one criminal law today. It is also true that for the vast majorityWhat science tells us is that the brain architecture of readers, these activities were temporary and didis constructed through a process that starts before not indicate that they would become lifelong of-birth and continues into adulthood. During adoles- fenders.cence, the brain undergoes dramatic changes to thestructure and function of the brain impacting the The upside of this brain research is that the rapidway youth process and react to information. The growth and development happening in adolescentregion of the brain that is the last to develop is the brains make them highly elastic and malleableone that controls many of the abilities that govern to change. The relationships made and behaviorsgoal-oriented, “rational” decision-making, such as learned during this crucial developmental stagelong-term planning, impulse control, insight, and are hard-wired into the brain architecture and helpjudgment. determine long-term life outcomes. When young people hit a rough patch, guidance from respon-The downside to these brain changes is that this sible adults and developmentally appropriate pro-means that youth are particularly vulnerable to grams, services, and punishment can get them backmaking the kinds of poor decisions that get them on track.involved in the justice system. By examining age- The juvenile justice system is based on this science and provides troubled adolescents with mentors, education, and the guidance to help most of them mature into responsible adults. In contrast, ware- housing minors in the adult system ensures that they will not have guidance from responsible adults or have access to age-appropriate programs, services and punishment to help build positive change into their brains during this crucial developmental pe- riod. Instead, they will face the reality of having a permanent criminal record and the increased likeli- hood of becoming career criminals. This is not the outcome we want for America’s children. 9
  12. 12. Moving Youth into the Adult System Costs States Millions: Lessons from Rhode Island With the current financial crisis, states across the Children are not little adults, and country are exploring ways to decrease the costs a criminal justice system that is of the justice system. According to the Pew Center designed for adults does not work on the States, state correctional costs quadrupled for youth. over the past two decades and now top $50 billion a year, consuming one in every 15 general fund Rhode Island is a state that recently dollars.5 When state policymakers have conversa- experimented with moving 17-year- tions about reforms to either the juvenile or adult olds into their adult system as a way to criminal justice system, an issue that often gets for- close a budget shortfall in 2007. 7 It took gotten is youth in the adult system. Some states see only a couple of months for the state to the juvenile and adult systems as interchangeable realize that it would cost much more to keep youth and seek to consolidate the two systems in an ef- safe in the adult system, and the legislature quickly fort to save money. This is a very costly mistake for repealed the law.8 Rhode Island now stands as a states as each high-risk youth diverted from a life powerful example to other states that consolidat- of crime saves society nearly $5.7 million in costs ing or otherwise moving more youth into the adult over a lifetime.6 system is a bad idea.10
  13. 13. The Juvenile Justice SystemDemands More Than the Adult Justice SystemThe adult system is typically thought to be more punishment-oriented than the juvenile system,but the minor crimes that youth commit mean that the majority of youth are only given an adult pro-bation sentence as well as a lifelong adult criminal record that makes it hard for them to get jobs in the future.In contrast, the juvenile justice system holds youth accountable for their crimes by placing more requirements onyouth and their families. The juvenile justice system often requires that youth attend school, pay community andvictim restitution, and receive the counseling, mentoring, and training they need to turn their lives around. The adultjustice system completely fails those youth who would benefit from the services of the juvenile system by lettingthem “slip through the cracks.” Comparison of Requirements between the Adult and Juvenile System in North Carolina In the Juvenile System In the Adult System Parent • Parent/guardian must be involved. • Parent/guardian need not be notified. Involvement • Youth released from detention center • Youth can make bail and leave county only to parent/guardian. Youth have jail on own recognizance. no right to pretrial release, no right to bond. Education • Youth must attend school or get a GED. • No education requirement. Age-Appropriate • Youth receive assessments, have • Services not required or, often, never frequent contact with court counselors, even offered. Services, and report regularly for rehabilitative Treatment, and services. • Those offered are intended for adults Punishment and therefore are not developmentally • Youth and families often receive court- appropriate for youth. ordered evidence-based therapies: counseling, training, mentoring, tutoring, and parenting skills. • Youth with mental health and substance abuse issues receive intensive services. • Regular contact with court counselors.Source: Action for Children North Carolina 11
  14. 14. Youth Arrests, 2009 { Only 5% of Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter – 0.1% 100% 100% Rape and other sex offenses* – 0.8% Aggravated Assault 2.6% Robbery 1.7% 95%95% Drug Crimes** 8.9% youth are arrested for Other assaults 11.6% the crimes of homicide, rape, robbery, Property Crimes*** (e.g., burglary, larceny, vandalism) or aggravated 28.1% assault. Disorderly Conduct 8.0% * Includes Forcible rape and other sex offenses except prostitution ** Drug Abuse Violations All other offenses**** *** Property crimes are offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor 21.1% vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, stolen property (buying, receiving, possessing) **** Also includes forgery and counterfeiting, fraud, embezzlement, gambling, suspicion, offenses against the family and children, prostitution and commercialized vice, driving under the influence, drunkenness, and Status Offenses***** vagrancy, weapons offenses but does not include traffic offenses (e.g., runaways, curfew violations, ***** Status offenses include liquor laws) runaways, curfew and loitering law violations, liquor laws 17.2% Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United 0% 0% States, 200912
  15. 15. Most Youth in the Adult System Are Convicted of Minor CrimesA ny mention of juvenile crime tends to evoke images that perpetuate three specific mythsabout youth. First, newspaper and television cover- Second, there is a perception that juvenile crime is on the rise. In reality, youth crime has been going down for many years and is now at historic lows.age of youth crime tends to involve stories focused The number of adults arrested between 1999 andon gangs or murder leading to a distorted view of 2008 increased 3.4%, whereas the number of juve-the nature of juvenile crime. Youth who have been niles arrested dropped a staggering 15.7% duringarrested for violent crimes are rare and only ac- that same time frame.10count for about 5% of all juveniles arrested eachyear.9 Drugs, burglary, theft, and other property Third, there is a perception that youth commit the ma-crimes are among the more common reasons teens jority of crime in the nation. The truth is that adultsare prosecuted in adult courts. commit the majority of crime in America. In 2008, Juvenile Crime Has Been Declining for Years 10000 Juvenile Arrest Rates by Offense 7500 5000 2500 0 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 * Violent crime index includes murder & nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. ** Property crime index includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Source: National Center for Juvenile Justice; OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book 13
  16. 16. only 12% of violent crime and 18% of property crime even youth who receive the most serious sanction nationwide were attributed to youth.11 According to – a sentence of imprisonment in an adult prison – are the FBI, youth under age 18 accounted for 15% of all not the serious offenders that one may imagine. The arrests.12 majority of youth held in adult prisons are not given extreme sentences such as life without parole, and These three misperceptions apply equally to youth in 95% of youth will be released back to their com- the adult justice system. The overwhelming majority munities before their 25th birthday.14 Unfortunately, of youth who enter the adult court are not there for by virtue of being prosecuted in the adult system serious, violent crimes. Despite the fact that many of these youth are less likely to get an education or the state laws were intended to prosecute the most skills training, and their adult conviction will make serious offenders, most youth who are tried in adult it harder for them to get jobs. courts are there for nonviolent offenses.13 A signifi- cant proportion of youth, in some states the major- ity, only receive a sentence of probation. However, Age-Specific Arrest Rates Rise Sharply During Youth Then Drop Off Youth Adults 3000 Violent Crime Index Murder Aggravated Assault Robbery Property Index 2250 Arrest Rates, 2001 1500 750 0 12 & under 13-14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 Age Source: Adapted from OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book14
  17. 17. Youth Are Often Housed in Adult Jails and PrisonsO ne of the most serious consequences of adult court prosecution is that youth can be housedin adult jails and prisons. On any given night in If detained pre-trial, two-thirds of youth prosecuted as adults are held in adult jails.America, 10,000 children are held in adult jailsand prisons.15 State laws vary widely as to whetheryouth can be housed in adult facilities.Although federal law requires that youth in the ju-venile justice system be removed from adult jailsor be sight-and-sound separated from other adults,these protections do not apply to youth prosecutedin the adult criminal justice system.16 In fact, manyyouth who are held in adult jails have not evenbeen convicted. Research shows that many neverwill. As many as one-half of these youth will besent back to the juvenile justice system or will notbe convicted. Yet, most of these youth will havespent at least one month in an adult jail, and one infive of these youth will have spent over six monthsin an adult jail.17 Source: Jailing Juveniles, Campaign for Youth JusticeWhile in adult jails or prisons, most youth are de- Youth are also in extreme danger when held innied educational and rehabilitative services that are adult facilities. Staff in adult facilities face a di-necessary for their stage in development. A survey lemma: they can house youth in the general adultof adult facilities found that 40% of jails provided population where they are at substantial risk ofno educational services at all, only 11% provided physical and sexual abuse, or they can house youthspecial education services, and a mere 7% provid- in segregated settings in which isolation can causeed vocational training.18 This lack of education in- or exacerbate mental health problems.creases the difficulty that youth will have once theyreturn to their communities. “When you take juveniles and put them in adult jails, they learn to be better adult criminals.” – New Hampshire State Representative Mary Walz 15
  18. 18. According to Sheriff Gabe Morgan Youth Under 18 in Adult Prisons, 2009 of Newport News, Virginia: The average 14-year-old is a “guppy in the ocean” of an adult facility. The law does not protect the juveniles; it says they are adults and treats them as such. Often they are placed in isolation for their protec- tion, usually 23 ½ hours alone. Around age 17, we put [the youth] in the young head popu- lation, a special unit where all the youth are put together, and the 13- and 14-year-olds nor- mally fall prey there as well.19 Youth who are held in adult facili- ties are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission found that “more than any other group of incarcerated persons, youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk for sex- ual abuse.” 20 Keeping youth away from other adult inmates is no solution either. Isolation has devastating conse- quences for youth – these conditions can cause anxiety, paranoia, and ex- acerbate existing mental disorders and put youth at risk of suicide. In * Prisons and jails form one integrated system. Data include total jail and prison populations. fact, youth housed in adult jails are ** Counts include those held in privately-operated facilities. 36 times more likely to commit sui- Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics cide than are youth housed in juve- nile detention facilities.211616