The young man at the center of the Supreme Court’s landmark Graham v Florida ruling on juvenile lifers is still behind bars. But former inmates from around the country tell Terrence Graham the court’s 2010 ban on sentencing juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses to life without parole saved their lives.
Each year, nearly 380,000 minors experience ‘unaccompanied’ homelessness, meaning they are homeless and without a parent or guardian for a period of longer than one week, reports the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.
A report by the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia finds that fines, fees and restitution mandates levied on juvenile offenders have the greatest effect on the poor and racial minorities, creating a two-tiered system of justice–one for those who can afford to pay for alternatives to incarceration and another for those who can’t.
One political advocate says harsh treatment for petty adolescent misbehavior might “end up making them hardened criminals.” And a prominent juvenile court judge warms that removing children from home and placing them in juvenile detention centers amounts to “piling trauma upon trauma.”
Students who are punished for behavioral problems by being suspended or expelled from school—as opposed to receiving mental health treatment and medication—are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system later in life, according to a study published in Criminology.
Allegations of sexual victimization in juvenile correctional institutions increased by as much as 18 percent in state facilities and as much as 60 percent in local and private facilities from 2011 to 2012, according to a report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.