Highlights from the week’s juvenile justice and justice related articles, videos and more that are worth your time.
The Tragic, Maddening Failure of America’s Juvenile Justice System
While it has taken a while, it is refreshing to see journalists move from quietly whispering of the injustices against juveniles in detention to shouting about them boldly in their headlines. Focusing on Nell Bernstein’s new book, Burning Down the House, the author speaks to the insanity of our juvenile justice system: ‘If we were to sit down and earnestly try to conceive of a juvenile justice system most likely to fail, to guarantee to turn troubled kids into dangerous adults, and to do so in a manner most horrific to those kids, we would end up with what we have now.’
Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Rethinking ‘Zero Tolerance’
It is amazing what kids will do when adults give them a little respect, trust, and agency. This is the case with almost every in-school restorative justice program we’ve read about. The approach, derived from American Indian and Maori practices of asserting justice, relies more on communication and mutual respect than suffering for one’s crime. In one Philadelphia school where half of the kids faced at least one out-of-school suspension during the school year, the outcomes of an experiment in restorative justice have been remarkable.
Instead of ‘One Size Fits All’ Justice That Hurts Communities, Let’s Get Smart on Crime
The “Smart on Crime” wave is gaining momentum, and we couldn’t be happier. California Attorney General Kamala Harris discusses where successful changes are already being made in the California system, specifically with recidivism. Through the Back on Track program, and creating a new division of the California DOJ, the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Reentry, we are seeing meaningful progress being made to permanently reduce one state’s prison population.
33,000 Arizona Prisoner Now Can Sue State Over Health Care, Solitary Confinement
A remarkable lawsuit championed by the ACLU and the Prison Law Office has resulted in an even more remarkable decision. While prisoners being deprived of necessary healthcare should unequivocally be allowed to sue for their rightful care, the lawsuit’s being deemed class action status is significant: ‘the Court rejected the sates arguments that the prisoners don’t have enough in common to warrant class action status…every inmate in ADC custody is likely to require [healthcare.]’
New Film Decries the Return of Debtors Prisons
A must see for anyone interested in learning more about how the private probation industry is reviving the debtors’ prison in the 21st century. Jurisdictions find these companies’ services attractive because they come at no cost to them, though the costs to probationers can be suffocating. Thousands are going to or returning to jail not for being a danger to society, but simply being poor.