Sarah Jones is a senior at an East Oakland high school. She is eighteen, and was recently accepted to Loyola University on a full scholarship, where she plans to study psychology. But like many teenagers, Jones has had difficulty adjusting to adulthood. "I'm adopted and I'm multi-racial, so I never really felt comfortable in my own skin," she said. "It's been tough trying to figure out where I fit in."
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In August, a state appeals court panel ruled that New Jersey juveniles currently housed in youth detention facilities were entitled to hearings before being transferred to adult prisons, according to The Record.
The three-judge appeals panel overturned the transfer of a Cumberland County man – a juvenile at the time of committing his crimes – who was sent to South Woods State Prison in November 2011. Following the decision, a Juvenile Justice Commission Staff will now be required to hold hearings that will allow the detainee to challenge the legality of the transfer, The Record reported.
Sometimes it seems there is an inherent conflict of interest between those who work in the field of juvenile justice and their goal of reducing youth involvement with the system.
Providing a quality program that reduces recidivism, lessens the length of detention, or lowers the overall number of incarcerated youths can, in the long run, lead to the closing of facilities, shrinking allocations, and fewer jobs. Success can lead to obsolescence. There seems to be a built-in reverse incentive structure, where success never goes unpunished.
In January 2012, California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a historic reform of the state juvenile justice system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF), by giving counties full responsibility for managing their offender population.
This initiative, named Juvenile Justice Realignment, would have ended state intake of youth by 2013 and closed all facilities by 2015. The governor subsequently rescinded this proposal due to aggressive lobbying by state law enforcement associations.
TRENTON – A delegation from the state of Ohio including judges, court administrators, representative from the Ohio Department of Youth Services, and other stakeholders, are in New Jersey to attend a two-day working session designed to help Ohio replicate New Jersey’s success in juvenile detention reform.
Deborah Edwards, AAG, Counsel to the Attorney General, Department of Law and Public Safety; Gloria R. Hancock, Ed.D., Acting Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC); and Harry T. Cassidy, Assistant Director of Family Practice, New Jersey Judiciary, opened the event at the Trenton War Memorial and addressed the delegation, praising the State of New Jersey’s successes.
“You don’t care about the victims. All you care about are those kids.”
It was a comment I’ve heard in one form or another at book events, at juvenile justice talks I’ve given, or in response to pieces I’d written about our national policy of retribution towards troubled kids. I have to admit, though, this guy was a bit more, shall I say, challenging, as he stood up after my reading and made his comment.
The CJNY's primary function is to be a support network for organizers and practitioners who are on the ground working with youth who are at risk or already involved in juvenile justice systems. We are also on:
The Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) is a program of the W. Haywood Burns Institute. This program is comprised of community-based programs, grassroots organizations, service-providing agencies, residential facilities and advocacy groups that focus their work on youth of color.