If This Isnt Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young

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As a result, they may be jailed in adult facilities for weeks or months without even being convicted. Far from locking up youth only as a last resort, the juvenile justice system confines large numbers of children and adolescents for the lowest-level offenses.


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To see the number of youth held for these minor offenses in each type of juvenile facility, see this detailed view. Almost half of youths held for status offenses are there for over 90 days, and almost a quarter are held in the restrictive, correctional-style types of juvenile facilities. This is true for adults, of course, but the experience of being removed from their homes and locked up is even more damaging for youth, who are in a critical stage of development and are more vulnerable to abuse.

There is growing consensus that youth confinement should be used only as a last resort, as evidenced by the declining number of incarcerated youth in recent years. Yet tens of thousands of children and adolescents continue to be locked up each year for low-level offenses. By our most conservative estimation, almost 17, youths 1 in 3 charged with low-level offenses could be released today without great risk to public safety. These include over 2, youths held for status offenses, 2, held for drug offenses other than trafficking, over 3, held for public order offenses not involving weapons, and 8, held for technical violations.

State and local officials should also look more closely at the detained population and consider how many of those youths would be better served in the community. Like the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems themselves, the efforts to reverse mass incarceration for adults and to deinstitutionalize justice-involved youth have remained curiously distinct. But the two systems have more problems — and potentially, more solutions — in common than one might think.

Like so many adults who are unnecessarily detained in jails, thousands of justice-involved children and adolescents languish in detention centers without even being found delinquent.

Juvenile Incarceration

They, too, are locked up in large numbers for low-level, non-violent offenses. And many youth face similarly dehumanizing conditions when they are locked up in juvenile facilities that look and feel like adult jails and prisons. For advocates and policymakers working to find alternatives to incarceration, ending youth confinement should be a top priority. With this big picture view, it should be obvious that many improvements can be made to better respond to the behaviors and needs of justice-involved youth. Many juvenile justice-focused organizations have proposed policy changes at every stage of the process, 26 but to address some of the issues discussed in this report, policymakers can start by:.

Many terms related to the juvenile justice system are contentious. Finally, the racial and ethnic terms used to describe the demographic characteristics of confined youth e. Finally, because this report is directed at people more familiar with the criminal justice system than the juvenile justice system, we occasionally made some language choices to make the transition to juvenile justice processes easier.

Prison Kids Juvenile Justice in America Full Documentary

In an effort to capture the full scope of youth confinement, this report aggregates data on children and adolescents held in both juvenile and adult facilities. Unfortunately, the juvenile and adult justice system data are not completely compatible, both in terms of vocabulary and the measures made available. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention OJJDP provides easy access to detailed, descriptive data analysis of juvenile residential placements and the youths held in them.

For youths in adult prisons, all that is readily accessible in government reports is their number by sex and by jurisdictional agency state or federal. In annual government reports on jails, youths are only differentiated by whether they are held as adults or juveniles. Slightly more detailed information is reported on youths in Indian country facilities, but the measures reported are not wholly consistent with the juvenile justice survey, and facility-level analysis is necessary to separate youths from adults for most measures.

Despite these challenges, this report brings together the most recent data available on the number of people younger than 18 held in various types of facilities and the most serious offense for which they are charged, adjudicated, or convicted. The only children and adolescents included in this analysis are involved in the juvenile- or criminal justice process.

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Youth who are put in out-of-home placements because their parents or guardian are unwilling or unable to care for them i. For juvenile facilities, the most recent data available is from , and for adult and Indian country facilities, data is available. These years matter: while most states set the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction at 18, in and , 7 states automatically prosecuted anyone 17 or older as an adult, and 2 states prosecuted anyone over 16 as an adult.

For this reason, we expect that as more states continue to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, the balance of youth in adult versus juvenile facilities will shift to greater reliance on juvenile facilities. To compare racial and ethnic representation in juvenile facilities to the general population of all youths 17 or younger in the U. Casey Foundation. We used the raw data to aggregate all children under 18 for comparison to the confined population in the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement.

The estimate of the number of youths confined for low-level offenses who could be considered for release includes 16, in juvenile facilities in These youths could likely also be considered for release. We did not include youths held in adult prisons and jails in this estimate because offense types were not reported for these youths.

The estimate of the number of youths detained pretrial who could be considered for release includes 6, youths detained in juvenile facilities and 56 unconvicted youths in Indian country facilities. At the time of the survey, 6, youths in juvenile facilities were detained awaiting either adjudication, criminal court hearing, or transfer hearing essentially, they were being held before being found delinquent or guilty. This may slightly underreport the unconvicted population, because the status conviction of youths in combined adult and juvenile Indian country facilities was not reported separately from the adults, and one juvenile facility did not report conviction status.

Youths held in adult prisons and jails were not included in this estimate because conviction status was not reported for these youths. This report was made possible by the generous contributions of individuals across the country who support justice reform.

Individual donors give our organization the resources and flexibility to quickly turn our insights into new movement resources. Minority suspects were 43 percent more likely to be arrested than white suspects 13 versus 9 percent and twice as likely to be judged as having shown disrespect 14 versus 7 percent. Table shows analyses from Worden and Myers predicting the arrest of juvenile suspects. For the total encounters, being a minority was not a significant predictor of arrest, although.

In contrast to the previous analyses, in officer-initiated cases, in which there is considerable police discretion, the minority status of the juvenile was a significant predictor of arrest. When the seriousness of the crime and the presence of evidence were taken into account, the effect of minority status was no longer statistically significant, although the odds of being arrested remained twice as high for minority juveniles compared with white juveniles.

Observational studies of police behavior have typically examined police actions in specific cities. Bachman , however, used the national data collected for NCVS from to in order to address issues regarding the role of race in initial police responses to robbery and aggravated assault.

Analyses focused only on crimes for which there were single offenders, thus eliminating 36 percent of the robberies and 16 percent of the aggravated assaults. A total of 52 percent of the remaining robberies and 54 percent of the assaults by single offenders were reported to police. Police responded more quickly to crimes committed by blacks with white victims than to white on white or black on black or white on black crimes. In addition, police put more effort into obtaining evidence for black on white crimes. Thus, blacks would have been more likely to be arrested and subsequently convicted, given that whites and blacks committed the same crime.

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Juvenile Justice State Profile

Police also exercise discretion in deciding what charges to make for particular crime events. Using data from the National Youth Survey sample of to year-olds, Huizinga and Elliott compared self-reported criminal behavior with official charges. They found that a slightly larger proportion of blacks reported involvement in general delinquency and that blacks and Hispanics reported more felony assaults than did whites. There were no consistent differences in rates of felony thefts.

Among both nonserious and serious offenders, blacks were much more likely than whites to be arrested on a charge for an index offense. The racial differences could not be attributed to either the seriousness of the offense or to the frequency of offending. Despite the fact that police tend to concentrate patrols in poor neighborhoods, they also appear to respond more slowly to client calls from inner-city residents than in more affluent neighborhoods Bachman, In addition, inner-city black residents distrust the largely white police Anderson, ; Russell, and believe the police are unlikely to be available when they are most needed Pinderhughes, Many residents therefore believe that they must defend themselves.

In sum, evidence from this review of the research and analysis of a recent study of police encounters with youth reveals some evidence of bias, although also some inconsistency in the evidence. Such inconsistencies may arise from variations in police practice by location e. Methodological problems in this research are a difficult issue, as the problem of potential influence of observation on police behavior is nearly insurmountable, and problems of racial bias in the observations of investigators are also hard to control or assess.

After the police have encountered youth and have made decisions about whether to continue to process or to divert them, others become involved in the decision-making process. Table presents a number of studies that have examined racial disparities at various points in the processing of youth through the juvenile justice system. Despite the fact that existing evidence is fairly limited in quantity and studies vary in methodological rigor, the studies listed in Table present a fairly consistent picture.

Blacks As Successful ‘When Given A Chance’

Disparities exist in arrest 6 of 7 studies , intake 4 of 4 , detention 6 of 7 , counsel 1 of 1 , and placement 7 of 7. Adjudication reveals a different pattern, with only one of the studies showing disparity and three not showing disparity. Frazier and Bishop looked at processing at four points— intake case closure versus formal processing , detention detention versus release , court referral prosecutor files petition versus no petition filed , and judicial disposition community treatment versus residential facilities or transferred to criminal court.

In simple bivariate analyses, Frazier and Bishop found that nonwhites were more likely than whites to be 1 referred by intake for formal processing, 2 held in secure detention facilities, and 3 petitioned to court by prosecutors.