Advocates Wary On High Court Teen Prison Case


Some juvenile justice advocates are concerned that the impending Supreme Court challenge to life sentences for juveniles may fail because not enough states have abolished such penalties. When the high court prohibited executions of juveniles in 2002, justices cited states that had taken similar actions. That has not happened on a widespread basis with respect to life sentences, Bart Lubow of the Annie E. Casey Foundation told the Coalition for Criminal Justice, ending its 25th anniversary meeting yesterday in Washington, D.C.Advocates at the conference expessed the hope that the Obama administration will use the power of the federal government to serve as a “bully pulpit” for juvenile justice reform. Jeff Slowikowski, acting administrator of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Administration, took the opportunity to declare that the practice of trying many accused juveniles as adults has not worked to reduce recidivism. Obama has not yet named an administrator for OJJDP. Panelists at the coalition conference agreed that with a lack of federal leadership in the field during the Bush Administration, foundations such as Annie E. Casey and MacArthur have tried to fill the gap with programs such as Casey’s initiative to reform juvenile detention practices.

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