Following Hurricane Katrina, authorities failed to evacuate at-risk youths in the juvenile justice system, leaving them cut off from their families and without food or water. Unless governors and other state officials act quickly, the current pandemic will cause an even graver catastrophe, warns the president of Youth First Initiative.
As more young people are being released from custody in response to fears about their vulnerability to the coronavirus, juvenile justice advocates are focusing on the kids left behind. At a Tuesday press conference, experts called on authorities to address the needs of youth still held in detention before it was too late.
Some uniform-clad security staffers at a Georgia “Youth Challenge Academy” used their positions to abuse teenage cadets, some of whom were in such fragile mental states they attempted to escape, harm themselves or commit suicide, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Youth correctional administrators have joined juvenile justice advocates across the country in warning that the 43,000 young people currently in custody are among those at highest risk of infection from the coronavirus. “The experience of (juvenile) incarceration just got worse,” said former NY State Youth Corrections Commissioner Gladys Carrion.
Incarcerated young people and elderly prisoners should be released from confinement when possible to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus, separate advocacy groups said Tuesday. One called it a “matter of life and death.”
Some 4.5 million young people, or a staggering 11.5 percent of youth aged 16 to 24, experience an “abrupt abandonment” that thrusts many of them into a foster care or juvenile justice system that shortchanges their futures, according to author Anne Kim.
A Washington state bill awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature would make it the 11th state so far to curtail juvenile solitary. In Illinois, a similar measure has received bipartisan support from legislators and advocates who argue putting young people into solitary is a form of ‘torture.’
Taking up the case of a 15-year-old who killed his grandfather, the Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a juvenile must be ruled “permanently incorrigible” to get a life sentence without parole.