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Friday, November 29, 2013

16 Year Old Jailed At Rikers For 3 Years Without A Trial

Browder was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school walking home from a party in the Bronx when he was arrested on a tip that he robbed someone three weeks earlier. He was hauled off to Rikers Island, a prison known for punishing conditions and overuse of force, and was held because he couldn’t pay the $10,000 bail. Browder went to court on several occasions, but he was never scheduled for trial. After 33 months in jail, Browder said a judge offered freedom in exchange for a guilty plea, threatening that he could face 15 years in jail if convicted. He refused. Then one day, he was released with no explanation. “They just dismissed the case and they think it’s all right. No apology, no nothing,” he told WABC-TV. Now at age 20 with his teen years behind him, Browder is first faced with finishing his GED and trying to make up for three years of his teen years lost. Browder says he spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement, was deprived of meals, and was assaulted and beaten both by officers and fellow inmates. Browder attempted suicide at least six times. Last month he filed a lawsuit last month against the city and several agencies. The Bronx District Attorney’s office has declined to comment. Browder’s story lays out a laundry list of some of the most prevalent problems with the criminal justice system. Browder was stopped in the Bronx, where the New York Police Department came under particular fire for its over-aggressive use of stops and unsubstantiated charges of “trespassing.” He was purportedly jailed based solely on one report to police, reinforcing race disparities in the criminal justice system. He was held in jail pursuant to bail policies that routinely punish the impoverished. And he was held in solitary confinement as a juvenile, even though the draconian punishment has particularly detrimental long-term effects on youths. An internal review recently obtained by the Associated Press finds a spike in use of both solitary confinement and force by staff at Rikers Island. http://www.alternet.org/16-year-old-jailed-rikers-3-years-without-trial

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Life Changing Events~*Written By Amber R Riley

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 Life Changing Events~*Written By Amber R Riley Life Changing Events* ~*~ Twists And Turns You never expect There is no guide to see what is next At 16 I wanted to grow up fast Never thought that year was my last Now I'm doing life due to a poor choice of friends Wondering when this nightmare ends. Will I live happy ,finally free? Or will this mistake forever haunt me? I am no saint ,I've done wrong to, How much more must I go through? 10 years of my life,I'm now an adult Waking each day is so difficult I hold on to hope ,make the best of each day. Yet these obstacles will not go away. I fight the state to get my Appeal Sometime of closure for this ordeal The not knowing is the hardest part. Fighting the diespair that lives in my heart. I can't just give up, my parents need me Have my whole life to live,If they ever free me. So many people have lost in this crime, My friend was killed by another I trusted He never thought he would get busted. I was there, but I couldn't tell. Believe me ,I was scared as Hell! Thought he was bluffing until it was to late One stupid choice cost many their fate. To me it all seemed so real, Frozen in place, Not believing this deal. Wish I knew then what was really taking place It could of saved his life and two peoples fate. 16 years old,Not A care in the world, Just hanging out with the guys and the girls Trying drugs and running amuck Never thought I would get stuck. Never thought it could really happen like this Doing life for a crime I didn't commit Written By Amber R. Riley Aug.2012

Monday, June 24, 2013

Youngest Person Sentenced to Death in Indiana

Paula Cooper, Youngest Person Sentenced to Death in Indiana, To Be Released From Prison Posted: June 17, 2013 Paula Cooper, who was 15 years old at the time of her crime, and the youngest person ever sentenced to death in Indiana, will be released from prison on June 17, twenty-seven years after her conviction for the murder of 78-year-old Ruth Pelke. Her case received international attention, sparking a campaign that led to the commutation of her death sentence to 60 years in prison. An appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court received over 2 million signatures from around the world. Pope John Paul II asked that Cooper's sentence be reduced. Bill Pelke, the grandson of Ruth Pelke, forgave and befriended Cooper and wrote a book, Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing, about his experience with the case. Read more http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/paula-cooper-youngest-person-sentenced-death-indiana-be-released-prison

Friday, June 21, 2013

(Prosecuted in Adult Criminal Court for offenses as Benign as Arriving Late For Class.)

NJJN Member Files Federal Complaint on Behalf of Youth in Dallas School System Three legal advocacy organizations, including NJJN member Texas Appleseed and NJJN partner, the National Center for Youth Law, have filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice on behalf of students in the Dallas County school system. According to Pat Arthur, a youth justice strategist working with Texas Appleseed, students as young as 12 are being prosecuted in adult criminal court for offenses as benign as arriving late for class. And while the offenses may be minor, the consequences, says Arthur, are often huge. Youth in these cases suffer all the consequences of a criminal conviction, including being disadvantaged or barred from employment or getting loans, or joining the military. They've been handcuffed in classrooms and brought to truancy court. It's truly a travesty. These cases, says Arthur, frequently and disproportionately target poor students, students of color, and students with disabilities. It's truly a barbaric system of punishing kids for doing what we all did as kids skipping school or being late, Arthur said. And it's totally ineffective. It's contrary to all the best practices that we know about how to address truancy. I've never seen anything so outrageously wrongheaded. The complaint requests that the truancy system be revised to incorporate a flexible, transparent tardiness policy, greater accommodations for students with disabilities, and school-wide behavioral interventions and supports. http://www.njjn.org/article/texas-member-files-federal-complaint-on-behalf-of-youth-in-dallas- schools? National Juvenile Justice Network | 1319 F St. NW | Suite 402 | Washington | DC | 20004

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Massachusetts House Approves Bill to "Raise the Age"

Massachusetts House Approves Bill to "Raise the Age" For First Time since 19th Century In Massachusetts, one could say that raising the age of the juvenile court's jurisdiction has been a long time coming. "We haven't changed the age of jurisdiction for hundreds of years," said Naoka Casey, executive director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ), an NJJN member. That may change soon, however, in light of the Massachusetts House of Representatives' unanimous passage of a bill that would expand juvenile jurisdiction (H. 1432) by moving 17-year-old youth from criminal court jurisdiction to juvenile court. CfJJ has been a driving force behind the bill since the beginning. The organization conducted its own research and outreach campaign, and partnered with system stakeholders most notably the local sheriff's association to gain widespread, bipartisan support for its efforts. "It's not done until it's done," Carey said. "We're close, and I'm going to keep knocking on wood." » Read the full story here.

Missouri Legislature Unanimously Expands Youth Services for Some Teens Tried as Adults

Missouri Legislature Unanimously Expands Youth Services for Some Teens Tried as Adults In the last weeks of May, the Missouri legislature voted unanimously in favor of S.B. 36, making changes in the state's program for youth subject to the dual jurisdiction of adult and juvenile courts. The program allows some youth who have been convicted or pled guilty in adult court to remain in the custody of Missouri's Department of Youth Services (DYS). That means they can be housed in a youth-oriented facility and receive a range of education and counseling services unavailable to adult offenders. The bill, also called "Jonathan's Law," was named for Jonathan McClard, a 17-year-old who was sentenced to 30 years in an adult facility. Tragically, McClard lost hope and took his own life. His mother, Tracy McClard, campaigned hard to get the bill passed. The bill awaits the governor's signature. » Read the full story here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The New York City Board of Correction voted on Monday to reject a petition to limit solitary confinement in New York City's jails

Board of Correction Votes Against Limiting Solitary Confinement in New York City Jails by Cat Guzman and Jean Casella The New York City Board of Correction (BOC) voted on Monday to reject a petition to limit solitary confinement in New York City's jails. The petition, developed by a grassroots advocacy group called the Jails Action Coalition (JAC), sought to bring sweeping reform to a jail system with one of the highest rates of prison isolation in the country. On Rikers Island, which holds more than 10,000 of the average 13,000 men, women, and children in the city's jails, approximately one in ten individuals is in "punitive segregation" at any given time. Many are placed there for nonviolent misbehavior, including drug use, foul language, and "horseplay." The jail complex includes special punitive isolation units for people as young as 16, and for those with mental and physical disabilities. "Solitary is torture, and its affecting people with mental illness and regular prisoners because it’s so extensive, so out of control, and so unmonitored, said Leah Gitter, a member of JAC who has a family member with mental illness on Rikers Island. Gitter, who was present at Monday's meeting, told Solitary Watch: "We have to have the rules changed in order to make sure that we stop this form of punishment.” The new rules outlined in JAC's petition, if adopted, would have directed the New York City Department of Corrections to end the use of isolated confinement except as a last resort to prevent violent behavior; increased daily out-of cell time for those placed in solitary: and banned altogether the isolation of children, young adults, and people with mental and physical disabilities. The BOC, which makes rules and provides oversight for the city's jails, debated the petition during its public meeting on Monday morning in front of a packed audience that included more than a dozen members of JAC, who held signs reading "We Can't Wait: End Solitary in New York." In the end, the Board elected not to proceed with "rulemaking" in response to the petition, but instead to appoint a committee to study the practice. BOC member Dr. Robert Cohen, a Manhattan physician and expert on prison health and mental health care, vocally supported JAC's petition. He called the use of solitary "dangerous," especially for people with mental illness and adolescents, who are confined in punitive segregation at particularly high rates. During the past three years, the percentage of prisoners languishing in solitary confinement has increased dramatically, without benefit in terms of decreased violence or increased safety on Rikers Island," either for corrections officers or the prisoners themselves. "I have regularly visited solitary confinement areas on Rikers Island," Cohen stated. On any given day, the vast majority of prisoners spend 24 hours a day in their cells, except for brief showers. In the Central Punitive Segregation Unit, the majority of prisoners spend their day lying on the beds, their heads covered by a blanket." Setting rules for the use of isolation, he said, was part of the BOC's statutory responsibility. Read more of this post http://solitarywatch.com/2013/06/07/board-of-correction-votes-against-limiting-solitary-confinement-in-new-york-city-jails/

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A second chance for juveniles }From A Public Defender

A second chance for juveniles Posted: 23 May 2013 Think about when you were 14, 15 or even 18 years old. You may have been the jock, the smartypants, the nerd, the weirdo, the hot chick, the best friend or home schooled. Think about the worst thing you did those years. Now imagine that the worst thing you did if it was legal was deemed inappropriate by society. Inappropriate to the tune of 20 years in jail or 30 years or 40 or 60. Or just remember that time you bullied someone or you stole a lipstick or you made fun of a teacher or you took your dad’s car and went for a joyride or you made up stories about that girl because she wouldn’t make out with you. Now, thinking about yourself, do you cringe? Have you spent time over the years wondering who that kid was and being glad that you’re not that anymore? Have you spent any time thinking boy, I was a douche back then, but I’ve grown and changed? We all have. The only difference is that some of us are stuck in jail for extremely long sentences for things we did when we were barely out of middle school. CT mandates that all children above the age of fourteen, charged with serious felonies, are automatically treated as adults and exposed to adult sentences, ranging from maximums of 20 years to 60 years. And there are about 170 people who are currently serving such sentences for things they did between 14-17. A new bill would change that and it just passed the State House of Representatives and heads to the Senate. Basically, the bill does this: it makes all people sentenced when they were between 14 and 17 eligible for parole consideration after they’ve served 60% of their sentence, but only if the sentence is 20 years or greater. Almost all of these crimes are currently not eligible for parole or eligible for parole at 85% of their sentences. So why this different, lower requirement for children? Because they’re children. Because they’d have served longer in prison than their adult counterparts and because their brains aren’t as developed when they’re 14-17, making them less culpable. As the United States Supreme Court said in Miller v. Alabama: Because juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform, we explained, “they are less deserving of the most severe punishments.” Graham, 560 U.S., at 130 S.Ct., at 2026. Those cases relied on three significant gaps between juveniles and adults. First, children have a “`lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility,’” leading to recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking. Roper, 543 U.S., at 569, 125 S.Ct. 1183. Second, children are more vulnerable. To negative influences and outside pressures, including from their family and peers; they have limited control over their own environment , and lack the ability to extricate themselves from horrific, crime-producing settings. Ibid. And third, a child’s character is not as “well formed” as an adult’s; his traits are “less fixed” and his actions less likely to be “evidence of irretrievable depravity. Id., at 570, 125 S.Ct. 1183. … And this lengthiest possible incarceration is an “especially harsh punishment for a juvenile,” because he will almost inevitably serve “more years and a greater percentage of his life in prison than an adult offender.” Graham, 560 U.S., at ___, 130 S.Ct., at 2028. The penalty when imposed on a teenager, as compared with an older person, is therefore “the same … in name only.” Id., at ___, 130 S.Ct., at 2028. So when that 14 year old child is sitting in a jail cell, 30 years later at the age of 44, someone can bring him out and say: are we punishing the same person? Have you changed? Can we let you out now? Can we treat our children at least somewhat like the children they are when they commit crimes? Or are we that intellectually bereft of nuance that the minute we say the word criminal, we lose sight of all context and character and instead stick blindly to our fear and desire for homogeneity in understanding the other? “Many members are concerned about appearing to be soft on crime, State Senator Eric Coleman] said. Don’t you think we oughta check in on them just once, after we’ve left our kids locked up and warehoused for over a decade or two, to see and say ‘hey, have you learned your lesson yet’? Or do you leave your kids in permanent time-out? apublicdefender.com

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fighting For My Freedom Christy Phillips} In Prison Since She Was 15

http://christyphillips308.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/my-name-is-christy-clinton-phillips/ Fighting For My Freedom Christy Phillips About Christy My name is Christy Clinton Phillips. I am being held in prison under violations of my civil and political rights I need help in fighting for the protection of these rights. The issue of my case in short form, is as follows: I was 15 yrs. old when my crime occurred and was sentenced to life in prison. According to the UN INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS(to which the United States is a party to) AND CRC(Convention/Committee on the rights of the child). a life sentence for a child is explicitly prohibited under article 37(a) of CRC and(article 6 the right to life, survival and development) paragraph 11 and paragraph 77. Under article 14(g)4 the court procedure must be such as will take account of a juvenile persons age and the desire ability of promoting their rehabilitation. In my case, the court did not take my age into consideration nor did they promote rehabilitation by sentencing me to LIFE in prison. “LIFERS” in prison are mostly denied access to rehabilitative services because of the lengthy sentence. Article 14(g) also prohibits law enforcement to cause a child to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt. In my case, I reported a homicide, I was held in the lounge area of the Rialto Police Station over night and interrogated the next day. I requested to the interrogating officers three times if I could be taken to a telephone to contact my mother I was told that I could not contact anyone outside the police station until after I was interrogated. After being held away from home and in a police station over night, I was intimidated confused and tired so under duress I cooperated with them I was under the impression that I would not be allowed to go home until after I cooperated with them. During my interrogation the detectives made it clear that they wanted me to admit guilt and would not end the interrogation until after I had done so, I did and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison based on that coerced confession. Letter of support:Christy Phillips W-94100 C.C.W.F. P.O.BOX 1508 512-15-2up Chowchilla, Ca. 93610 www.gofundme.com/20h29c www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-christy-clinton-phillips-cdc-w-94100. http://tobtr.com/3046483 http://christyphillips308.wordpress.com http://pinterest.com/irishgreeneyes2/christy-phillips/ https://twitter.com/ChristyPhillip1 https://www.facebook.com/christy.phillips.129 https://www.facebook.com/groups/190341227781152/ Share this:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Free Christy Phillips and Reform JLWOP

Free Christy Phillips and Reform JLWOP This group is dedicated to Freeing Christy Phillips' and abolishing JLWOP. For more info visit: http://www.christyclintonphillips.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 8, 2013

California: Tomorrow they are meeting to discuss the Youth Sentencing Bill

California: Tomorrow they are meeting to discuss the Youth Sentencing Bill: The Senate Public Safety Committee hearing on SB 260 (Hancock) is in Room 3191 of the state capitol beginning at 9:30 am. You can find the agenda here: http://spsf.senate.ca.gov/agenda. You can attend in-person or listen to the live stream from the link provided in the agenda. SB 260 is scheduled as the fourth bill to be heard during the session (although this often changes on the day). If you attend in-person you can provide very brief public comment in support of the bill after the expert testimony on the bill has been heard. If you need more information about the bill, I recommend you contact the bill’s sponsors – the Human Rights Watch. Additionally, they list ways you can get involved on the Fair Sentencing for Youth website: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org/take-action/ Hope this helps! Sincerely, Selena Selena Teji, J.D. Communications Specialist Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Letters From Juveniles Serving Life In Prison

The Tragic Lives Of So Many Young People Facing Life In Prison http://en.radiovaticana.va/m_articolo.asp?c=677778 Letters from prison - Radio Vaticana (Vatican Radio) Los Angeles County has one of the highest youth incarceration rates in the country. Up to 90% of the county’s juvenile justice youth are Latino or African American, and up to 70% of incarcerated youth nationally are said to have some kind of disability. After witnessing the tragic lives of so many young people facing life without parole in a juvenile justice system where little rehabilitation takes place and with frighteningly high recidivism rates that continue into adulthood, Jesuit Father Mike Kennedy decided to set up the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI) to provide support and hope to juveniles with life sentences. Through the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a series of meditative prayers helping people find God in their everyday experiences, the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative provides tools that allow prisoners to find healing and forgiveness and to recognize their lives have meaning and purpose. When the young boys at the juvenile detention facility in LA heard of Pope Francis’ wish to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison with the young inmates there, many of them expressed their desire to participate from afar and in close solidarity to what the Pope was going to do in another juvenile hall. To do this they have written letters to Pope Francis, thanking him for his gesture of love and service, praying for him – as he has asked all of us to do, describing the sadness of their lives in detention, and asking for prayers to help them endure the darkness and hopelessness of their situations… As father Kennedy points out, some of these youngsters will spend the rest of their lives in prison. We welcome their voices and publish the letters that will be read at a service Thursday evening with the Director of Novices and 11 Jesuit novices, each one washing the feet of an inmate at the juvenile hall where kids are sentenced as adults. Dear Pope Francis, Thank you for washing the feet of youth like us in Italy. We also are young and made mistakes. Society has given up on us, thank you that you have not given up on us. Dear Pope Francis, I think you are a humble man. When you read this letter you will have washed the feet of other kids like. I am writing this letter because you give me hope. I know one day with people like you us kids won't be given sentences that will keep us in prison for the rest of our lives. I pray for you. Dont forget us. Dear Pope Francis, I don't know if you have ever been to where I live. I have grown up in a jungle of gangs and drugs and violence. I have seen people killed. I have been hurt. We have been victims of violence. It is hard to be young and surrounded by darkness. Pray for me that one day I will be free and be able to help other youth like you do. Dear Pope Francis, Tonight we pray for all victims of violence. The families of people we have hurt need healing. Our families need healing. We are all in pain. Let us feel Jesus' healing tonight. Dear Pope Francis, I know the same youth feet that you wash are like me. Drugs have been part of me life for so long. We all struggle to be sober. But you inspire me and I promise to be sober and help others with the cruel addiction of crystal meth. Dear Pope Francis, My many friends are in two different maximum security prisons in one of our states 33 state prisons.Calif. I am writing to tell you that I feel bad that more youth of color are in prison in our state than any other place in the world. I am inviting you to come here next year to wash our feet, many of who have been sentences to die in prison. God bless you. Dear Pope Francis, I read that the harshest sentence that a youth can receive in Italy is 20 years. I wish this was true here. I hope I hear back from you. I have been catholic and glad I am catholic because I have a pope like you. I will pray for you every day because we need examples of God like you are in this violent world. Dear Pope Francis, I am glad you picked the name Francis. When I was little I read about St.Francis. He is a cool saint. He was a man of peace and simplicity. I am praying to you that you pray that we have peace in our gang filled neighborhoods. Dear Pope Francis, When Jesus washed the feet of his friends he gave an example of humility. I have been raised to believe that it is only with respect in hurting your enemy that you are a man. Tonight you and Jesus show me something in this washing of the feet something very different. I hope we kids learn from this. Dear Pope Francis, I have never been to Rome. I do not know if it is near Los Angeles because all my youth I have only known my neighborhood. I hope one day I will be given a second chance and receive a blessing from you and maybe even have my feet washed on Holy Thursday. Dear Pope Francis, I know you have a good family. I am writing this letter to you because I know that my family is suffering because of me. I know have done some bad things but I am not a bad kid and when last year in our big state we not a new law called SB9 this made me family happy because this is a beautiful message that we kids deserve a second chance. Dear Pope Francis, From reading I know that us kids are capable of making decisions like older people do. I have seen pictures of brains of kids and adults. I am asking you as Pope to help us and help other people understand we can change and want to change.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teen in solitary confinement commits suicide

Teen in solitary confinement commits suicide James Stewart was 17 when he committed suicide after being placed in solitary confinement. He is part of a rising tide of juveniles who commit suicide while being locked away in solitary. Rock Center Special Correspondent Ted Koppel reports. http://video.msnbc.msn.com/rock-center/51299099

Monday, March 25, 2013

Alabama Senate passes bill that would give juveniles convicted ofcapital murder a chance

Thu Mar 21, 2013 Alabama Senate passes bill that would give juveniles convicted of capital murder a chance at parole after 40 years By Brian Lawson | blawson@aol.com on March 20, 2013 at 5:25 PM, updated March 20, 2013 at 5:36 PMPrint HUNTSVILLE, Alabama --The Alabama Senate passed a measure today that would give juveniles convicted of capital murder a chance at parole after serving 40 years in prison. The measure follows last year's U.S. Supreme Court decisionMiller vs. Alabama, which found that automatic life sentences for juveniles convicted on murder charges was unconstitutional. Alabama Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsored the bill. Alabama had to do something to comply with Miller vs. Alabama,Ward said. A juvenile convicted of a capital crime can't get the death penalty and the Supreme Court said the judge had to have another alternative to consider. The court said the judge had to consider 'relevant mitigating circumstances,' and we included that language, in choosing whether or not to send them to life in prison without parole or life in prison with parole after 40 years. We feel like, and Attorney General Luther Strange) feels like, with this we will be Miller compliant. The measure now goes to the Alabama House. I feel very confident the House will pass it, Ward said. "To not pass it will leave our courts in a bit of a lurch." Currently, under Alabama law a capital murder conviction carries one of two sentences, life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Given that the high court has previously ruled defendants who were under 18 at the time of the crime cannot be put to death, Alabama was left without a sentencing option for similar cases. A life sentence without parole can still be given, but it can't be automatic, with no option to consider. Ward said he's been told the measure could affect perhaps more than two dozen current cases. The measure might also have an effect on the fortunes of juvenile defendants who were sentenced before last year's ruling. Courts around the U.S. have been split in deciding if the Supreme Court's ruling in Miller applies retroactively. Alabama has argued in appeals court filings that it is not retroactive. Ward said if an Alabama defendant is successful in persuading an appeals court that he should be granted a new sentence that includes the possibility of parole, the current measure will be able to guide Alabama judges on the new ". Critics of the measure have argued that it's took long before they get a chance at parole and issue that was raised in the debate on the bill, Ward said, and that giving only once chance at parole may not be legally valid. But Ward said the defendants under consideration in these cases are teens who have committed, pre-meditated murder, "the most serious, well thought-out and gruesome murders. It's one shot. At the end of the day, if you're sentenced to life without parole, you'd never get a shot. After that length of time here, odds are either you're going to get parole or you're not I would think in most cirucmstances that parole would be granted. http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/03/alabama_senate_approves_bill_c.html

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Remarkable Transformation of CT’s Juvenile Justice System

We thought of the children Posted: 28 Feb 2013 04:30 AM PST For years I’ve written about the sorry state of the juvenile justice system and the inattention we pay to the lives of the children who get caught up in it, sometimes through no fault of their own. So it heartens me (with some pretty important reservations) to see this report [PDF] from the Justice Policy Institute about the remarkable transformation of CT’s juvenile justice system from one of complete failure to that of a role model for the rest of the country in about 10 short years. From their executive summary [PDF]: In 2007, Connecticut made national headlines when it passed a law ending its status as one of just three states that automatically tried and punished all 16 and 17 year-olds as adults. Yet this historic “Raise the Age” legislation is just one of many reforms enacted by Connecticut’s juvenile justice system in recent years. Propelled by a determined coalition of advocates and public sector innovators, Connecticut has forged a new consensus for progressive change in juvenile justice, and it has transformed a previously wasteful, punitive, ineffective, and often abusive juvenile justice system into a national model – at no additional cost to taxpayers. Perhaps more than any other state, Connecticut has absorbed the growing body of knowledge about youth development and delinquency, adopted its lessons, and used the information to fundamentally re-invent its approach to juvenile justice. As a result, Connecticut’s system today is far and away more successful, more humane, and more cost-effective than it was 10 or 20 years ago. And the evidence is staggering: residential commitments for juveniles are down 70% despite the influx of 16 and 176 year olds into the system; the number of juveniles locked up for “status offenses” (missing school, etc.) has become negligible; the number of youth tried and convicted as adults has also drastically declined: For decades, Connecticut was one of only three states that prosecuted and punished all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. In 2007, the state enacted historic legislation to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18, effective January 1, 2010 for 16 year olds and July 1, 2012 for 17 year olds. Even before 17 year-olds became eligible for juvenile court on July 1, 2012, the new law had enabled 8,325 16 year-olds to avoid prosecution and punishment in the adult criminal justice system. Extending juvenile jurisdiction to 16 year-olds has increased juvenile caseloads far less than expected (22 percent actual versus 40 percent projected); as a result the state spent nearly $12 million less in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 than it had budgeted. Meanwhile, 16 year-olds served by the juvenile system have had higher success rates in alternative programs and lower rearrest rates than youth 15 and younger, disproving concerns that they should be in the adult system. That’s great and all and everyone involved with this staggering reform must be commended. But. But as I’ve written before, there are 14 and 15 and 16 and 17 year olds who are still treated as adults. And still subjected to the horrors of the adult criminal system and adult prisons: Department of Correction data show that youth incarcerated in adult correctional facilities suffer alarming recidivism: 85 percent are re-arrested within two years of release, 62 percent are convicted of new crimes, and 70 percent return to prison on a new charge or parole violation. Pursuant to C.G.S. 46b-127, any child 14 and older, who is accused of a Class B or A felony is automatically transferred to adult court and treated like an adult. There is no discretion; the legislature, in their “hard on crime” binges in the 90s, took that power away from the prosecutor and the judge. At the same time, they legislature removed the defendant’s seat at the table. The defense can no longer put on a hearing or ask that the case remain in juvenile court. Even when the case is in adult court, no one except the prosecutor has the authority to decide to send it back. There’s no oversight and, unlike New Jersey [PDF], our legislature and courts haven’t decided that the decision to treat 14 year olds like adults is important enough to warrant that someone, somewhere state their reasons for doing so on the record. There is absolutely no accountability and the only thing that matters is checking off a box on a list. So, you say, that’s fine. Even a 14 year old should be held accountable for a serious crime. No doubt. But do you know the punishments Class A and B felonies expose a teenager to? Class B felonies have a 20 year maximum and Class A 25 years, both longer than the life that the teenager would have lived up to that point. Making matters worse is the mandatory-minimums. There is a lengthy list of crimes for which 14 year old children have to be tried as adults which carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5 or 10 years. And that means no matter how much anyone thinks it’s wrong, the child must get that time in jail. Minimum. According to the data in this report, in 2010, approximately 170 children were automatically transferred to adult court and kept there and treated as adults. How many of them are now serving long, mandatory prison sentences in adult court? Whose 14 year old is going through absolute hell? When the Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, it made no distinction between 14, 15, 16 and 17 year olds. Because the Court recognized that they were, after all, children. Why do we insist differently? Our decisions rested not only on common sense — on what “any parent knows” — but on science and social science as well. Id., at 569, 125 S.Ct. 1183. In Roper, we cited studies showing that “`[o]nly a relatively small proportion of adolescents’” who engage in illegal activity “`develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior.’” Id., at 570, 125 S.Ct. 1183 (quoting Steinberg & Scott, Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence: Developmental Immaturity, Diminished Responsibility, and the Juvenile Death Penalty, 58 Am. Psychologist 1009, 1014 (2003)). And in Graham, we noted that “developments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds” — for example, in “parts of the brain involved in behavior control.” 560 U.S., at ___, 130 S.Ct., at 2026.[5] We reasoned that those findings — 2465*2465 of transient rashness, proclivity for risk, and inability to assess consequences — both lessened a child’s “moral culpability” and enhanced the prospect that, as the years go by and neurological development occurs, his “`deficiencies will be reformed.’” Id., at ___, 130 S.Ct., at 2027 (quoting Roper, 543 U.S., at 570, 125 S.Ct. 1183). Roper and Graham emphasized that the distinctive attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders, even when they commit terrible crimes. Children are different. Let’s continue to treat them that apublicdefender.com /Feb.28/2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

America's official child abuse.Kids in solitary confinement

Kids in solitary confinement America's official child abuse. Thousands of teenagers, some as young as 14 or 15, are routinely subjected by US prisons to this psychological torture Molly J said of her time in solitary confinement. "I felt doomed, like I was being banished Like you have the plague or that you are the worst thing on earth. Like you are set apart from everything else. I guess I wanted to] feel like I was part of the human race not like some animal." Molly was just 16 years old when she was placed in isolation in an adult jail in Michigan. She described her cell as being a box. There was a bed the slab. It was concrete . There was a stainless steel toilet/sink combo . The door was solid, without a food slot or window . There was no window at all. Molly remained in solitary for several months, locked down alone in her cell for at least 22 hours a day. No other nation in the developed world routinely tortures its children in this manner. And torture is indeed the word brought to mind by a shocking report released today by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Growing Up Locked Down documents, for the first time, the widespread use of solitary confinement on youth under the age of 18 in prisons and jails across the country, and the deep and permanent harm it causes to kids caught up in the adult criminal justice system. Ian Kysel, author of the 141 -page report, interviewed or corresponded with more than 125 young people who had spent time in solitary as children in 19 states. To cope with endless hours of extreme isolation, sensory deprivation and crippling loneliness, Kysel learned that some children made up imaginary friends or played games in their heads. Some hid under the covers and tried to sleep as much as possible, while others found they could not sleep at all. Being in isolation to me felt like I was on an island all alone dying a slow death from the inside out, a California teen wrote in a letter to Human Rights Watch. One young woman, who spent three months in solitary in Florida when she was 15, described becoming a cutter while in isolation. I like to take staples and carve letters and stuff in my arm Each letter means something to me. It is something I had lost. She started by carving into her arm the first letter of her mother's name. Another girl who cut herself in solitary said, because it was the only release of my pain. In fact, solitary confinement has been shown to cause severe pain and psychological damage to the tens of thousands of adults who endure it every day in American prisons. On children, the report states, the practice has a "distinct and particularly profound impact Because of the special vulnerability and needs of adolescents, solitary confinement can be a particularly cruel and harmful practice when applied to them. This is all the more true because for many of these kids, developmental immaturity is compounded by mental disabilities and histories of trauma, abuse, and neglect Yet, prisons and jails commonly use isolation as punishment for violating prison rules, including both violent and nonviolent infractions. One boy who entered a Colorado jail at age 15 said the guards doled out stints in solitary for crimes that would, in any other setting, be deemed normal adolescent behavior, 15 days for not making the bed ,15 days for not keeping the cell door open, 20 or 25 days for being in someone else's cell. On Rikers Island in New York City, more than 14% of adolescents between 16 and 18 spent some period in "disciplinary segregation". This despite the fact that nearly half of all adolescents on Rikers have been found to have a diagnosed mental disorder. Other kids are isolated as a form of protective custody, because they are vulnerable to physical or sexual abuse. Even though they are being locked down for their own good, many receive no educational or rehabilitative programming while in solitary, and some are barred from seeing their families. Still, other children are placed in solitary confinement for treatment purposes, especially after threatening or attempting suicide even though isolation has been shown to sharply increase the risk that prisoners will take their own lives. There is nothing to do so you start talking to yourself and getting lost in your own little world. It is crushing, said Paul K, who spent 60 days in solitary when he was 14. You get depressed and wonder if it is even worth living. Your thoughts turn over to the more death-oriented side of life. No one knows precisely how many children live in these conditions, since many state and local correctional systems do not keep such data. But the overall rate of solitary confinement in American prisons is thought to be between 3% and 5%, and anecdotal evidence suggests that, in some systems, children may be isolated at even higher rates than adults. Given that nearly 100,000 youth under the age of 18 pass through adult prisons and jails annually, there exists the staggering possibility that thousands of children are spending time in solitary confinement each year. Liz Ryan, who directs the Campaign for Youth Justice, points out that 20 states have laws requiring that juveniles be kept apart from adult prisoners. Yet most of the nation's 3,000 jails lack dedicated facilities for children leaving them with no alternative but to place kids in solitary. A majority of people in jail are there awaiting trial, which means many children in solitary have not even been convicted of a crime. In addition, Ryan said, A kid could be held in jail not because there is a risk to public safety, but because they don't have the resources to make bail. So the racial and class disparities endemic to the criminal justice system are likely reflected in the population of children languishing in isolation. Ian Kysel said in an interview: I think one of the greatest impediments to change is trying to unravel the policy issue that is at the root of this problem: a criminal justice system that treats kids as if adults without providing resources or guidelines for their care, For this reason, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union recommend that state and the federal governments prohibit the housing of adolescents with adults, or in jails and prisons designed to house adults. However, regardless of how they are charged and held, Kysel says unequivocally: We need to ban the solitary confinement of young people across the board. There is simply no reason that a child or adolescent ever needs to be held in a cell, alone, for 22 let alone 24 hours at a stretch." For this to happen, though, the American public will need to accept what numerous international bodies have already concluded that solitary confinement is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and clearly rises to the level of torture when levied against vulnerable populations, including children. If my story can stop another kid from coming to solitary confinement, one Florida teen wrote, then, Hopefully my pain serves some purpose. • Editor's note,: This article originally referred to the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth; This was amended to the Campaign for Youth Justice at 10am (ET) on 12 October 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/10/children-solitary-confinement-america-prisons

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sentenced at age 16 she has spent 1/2 her life in prison

https://www.change.org/petitions/governor-terry-branstad-and-the-iowa-board-of-parole-make-christine-lockheart-immediately-eligible-for-parole Sentenced at age 16 she has spent 1/2 her life in prison. 27 Years. She deserves a second chance* Please sign Her Petition Christine Lockheart has been incarcerated since she was 17, she has now been in prison well over half of her life (the past 27 years). Christine has a life without parole sentence for a murder that took place when she was 17, but Christine was not the killer. Christine's boyfriend at the time, Rick Nebinger who was 24 when the crime took place brutally murdered Floyd Brown while Christine unknowingly waited in the car. Rick was an adult with a long history of convictions and pending charges. Christine was given the same sentence as the assailant because she was considered an aider and abettor and did not turn her boyfriend in. Christine has served more time in prison for this crime than the man who committed the murder, who passed away in prison. When the Supreme Court ruled against mandatory life without parole for juveniles they did so because scientific neurological research has proven that the brains of children are not as fully developed as the brains of adults and therefore children are less culpable than adults. In the past 27 years that Christine has been incarcerated she has developed into an amazing woman. She has served as a mentor to other inmates who have come and gone, she has become the editor of the newsletter for the Iowa Coalition to Oppose Life Without the Possibility of Parole for Children, and she is working on earning a college degree. Christine has already spent 27 years of her life paying for her knowledge of this crime. No other country in the world sentences juveniles to life without parole. Christine should not spend any more of her life behind bars for her role in this crime. Please sign this petition and help Christine get a second chance. To: Governor Terry Branstad and the Iowa Board of Parole Make Christine Lockheart immediately eligible for parole! Sincerely, [Your name]

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scarred by Solitary: Experiencing Prison Isolation As a Kid

Scarred by Solitary: Experiencing Prison Isolation As a Kid by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway The following commentary is by Enceno Macy, the pen name of a young man who is serving a 15-year sentence in a West Coast prison. From the ages of 13 to 17, he experienced solitary confinement as a juvenile in three different settings: juvenile detention, jail, and state prison. Solitary Watch encouraged him to write about this experiences and how they affected him. We are proud to have facilitated publication of his powerful essay, which was published yesterday by the McClatchy Group and picked up by McClatchy-owned papers around the country. Solitary confinement is no place for a kid. I know this from firsthand experience. As a young person in the criminal justice system, I was placed in solitary -- locked down in a small cell for up to 24 hours a day -- several different times before I was out of my teens. And although you can't see them, I bear permanent scars from this treatment. I first experienced a kind of solitary confinement in juvenile detention when I was 13 years old. We would get sent to lockdown for bad language or being too loud, or for forgetting to ask permission to talk, get up from our seats, or change the card game we were playing -- basically, for acting like kids. Where I was, the time in isolation usually lasted a few days. I know that in some juvenile facilities, children get locked down for weeks or months at a time. When I was 15, I was accused of a serious felony, and while awaiting trial I was placed in "involuntary segregation" in county jail. I was put there solely due to my age and "for my own protection," but I was treated the same way as adults who were put in solitary for serious rule violations. We received two books a week, two sheets of paper, and a golf pencil. There was no access to any form of education or counseling for youth (or anyone else). In the wire cages we sometimes went to for exercise, the space was not much bigger than the cell. I spent seven and a half month in those conditions. Once convicted, I was sent to adult prison, where I experienced several stays in "disciplinary segregation," usually lasting a few months each - for fighting, leaving my job early, arriving back late from a meal, and copying out the lyrics to a song that they deemed "gang related," probably just because it was rap. The guards were petty, and liked to single out youngsters who had a lot of time to do -- to try to "break" us, I guess. Something as simple as using profanity when speaking with a state employee would get us a couple of weeks in "seg." In other words, actions that would qualify as everyday misbehavior for most American teenagers would get us placed in conditions that have been widely denounced as torture, especially when used on young people. Read the rest of the essay here on McClatchy's website. Read the recent ACLU/Human Rights Watch report on youth in solitary, Growing Up Locked Down, here. View Richard Ross's powerful photographs of kids in solitary, part of "Juvenile In-Justice," here. http://solitarywatch.com/2013/02/13/scarred-by-solitary-experiencing-prison-isolation-as-a-kid/

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Transfer of Juveniles to Adult Court:Study The Effects Of

Transfer of Juveniles to Adult Court: Effects of a Broad Policy in One Court Edward P. Mulvey and Carol A. Schubert Highlights This bulletin presents findings from the Pathways to Desistance study about the effects of transfer from juvenile court to adult court on a sample of serious adolescent offenders in Maricopa County, AZ. The authors compare the extant literature with findings from the Pathways study and discuss the possible implications of these findings for future changes in transfer statutes. Following are some key points: • Adolescents in the adult system may be at risk for disruptions in their personal development, identity formation, relationships, learning, growth in skills and competencies, and positive movement into adult status. • Most of the youth in the study who were sent to adult facilities returned to the community within a few years, varying widely in their levels of adjustment. Youth were more likely to successfully adjust when they were not influenced by antisocial peers. • Prior work indicates that transferred youth are more likely to commit criminal acts than adolescents kept in the juvenile justice system. • Findings from the Pathways study indicate that transfer may have a differential effect (either reducing or increasing offending), depending on the juvenile’s presenting offense and prior offense history. Transfer to adult court indicates that the demand for proportional punishment has trumped the goal of individualized rehabilitation found in the juvenile justice system (Zimring, 2005). Since the court’s inception, juvenile justice policymakers and professionals have wrestled with the decision about when to transfer an adolescent to adult court (Tanenhaus, 2004). Currently, individual states have combinations of statutorily defined mechanisms for determining when the movement of a juvenile case to adult court is required or appropriate, including procedures such as judicial transfer, certification, automatic waiver, or direct file (Griffin, 2003; Fagan and Zimring, 2000). In general, state statutes define a set of crimes for adolescent offenders of a certain age that warrant processing in the adult system (i.e., a statutory exclusion from the presumed jurisdiction of the juvenile court). Most states also have a mechanism (e.g., decertification, reverse waiver) for returning the case to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court when deemed appropriate. (See Sickmund, 1994; Griffin, 2006; and Redding, 2008, for an elaboration of these statutory provisions.) During the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, a sharp rise in violent crime produced intense interest in the causes of juvenile crime and the effectiveness of the juvenile justice system. Juvenile arrests for violent offenses jumped dramatically during this time period, increasing 64 percent nationally between 1980 and 1994 (Butts and Travis, 2002). In addition, some highly publicized cases of juveniles committing repeated, serious violent offenses contributed to public perception that the juvenile justice system was inadequate to intervene effectively with adolescents who were a legitimate threat to public safety (Butterfield, 1995). These forces even prompted radical, and ultimately unfounded, rhetoric about a coming wave of adolescent “superpredators” unlike any previous juvenile offenders in their heartlessness and lack of response to interventions (DiIulio, 1995). It is generally believed that these statutory reforms produced an increase in the rate of transfer, at least in a large number of locales (Fagan, 2008; Penney and Moretti, 2005). However, it is difficult to gauge the specific effects of these changes because of the lack of comprehensive and consistent data about transferred adolescent offenders. No systematic national count of the number of youth who are transferred or waived to criminal court exists, nor are there consistent data on the characteristics of these adolescents across locales. The National Center for Juvenile Justice tracks judicial transfers made at the discretion of juvenile court judges. These figures show a clear decline in adolescent transfers using this mechanism, presumably because other statutory mechanisms have increased their rate of transfer (Adams and Addie, 2010). However, no accurate tallies of the total number of transfers across all possible mechanisms exists. The sources for estimating the number of adolescents in adult prisons or jails on any given day or during any given period of time are also inconsistent (Woolard et al., 2005). According to available data, the number and proportion of adolescents in adult prisons appear to have peaked in the mid-1990s (about 5,000 prisoners, or 2.3 percent of the total prison population, according to Hartney, 2006) and to have fallen since then to less than 3,000, or 1.2 percent, in 2004 (Hartney, 2006; see Austin, Johnson, and Gregoriou, 2000, for somewhat larger estimates for the mid-1990s). Estimates of the number of adolescents in adult jails on any given day are considerably greater, ranging from about 7,000 (Hartney, 2006) to 19,000 (Austin, Johnson, and Gregoriou, 2000)—about 1 in 10 youth incarcerated in the United States are admitted to an adult prison or jail (Eggleston, 2007). In addition, little is actually known about outcomes for adolescent offenders who are transferred to the adult system. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) funded a recent study to compile available information about the number of adolescents who were transferred across a range of locales and the subsequent sanctions these individuals received. Study results are anticipated in 2012 and are expected to be “the best national estimates ever, Despite the lack of definitive numeric estimates, it is reasonable to assume that the changes in transfer statutes have led to an increase in the heterogeneity of the youth sent to adult court in many locales (Schubert et al., 2010). That is, expansions of the transfer statutes and an increased reliance on the presenting offense have made it easier for the adult court to process a broader range of adolescents; these adolescents likely differ widely in their prior legal involvement, developmental status (because there is now a wider age span for youth who are eligible for transfer), and specific risk factors related to offending. In general, researchers believe that the group of adolescents now transferred to adult court includes “a broad range of offenders who are neither particularly serious nor particularly chronic” (Bishop and Frazier, 2000, p. 265). Longer Sentences One potentially harmful outcome for transferred adolescent offenders is a longer or harsher sentence than they might have experienced if they had remained in the juvenile justice system. Both sides of the political spectrum seem to believe that this is the case. Those in favor of “get tough” policies promote long sentences for youth and see transfer to the adult system as a method to achieve this end. Meanwhile, those opposing adult sentences for juveniles imply that transfer to adult court produces long confinement in an adult facility. Disruptions in Development In addition to the immediate physical and psychological dangers resulting from incarceration, adolescents transferred to the adult system can also experience harmful disruptions in their development during late adolescence and early adulthood. Adolescent offenders can be assumed to be particularly diverse, and potentially delayed, in many aspects of social development (Monahan et al., 2009). Also, considerable evidence exists that prison and jail environments present challenges to one’s sense of self and identity that even hardened criminals find disorienting, upsetting, and traumatic. Particularly vulnerable adolescents are thus taking the next steps of their developmental journey in an environment that does not promote physical or emotional health and that may harm their progress as well. Although an adolescent and an adult might receive what appears to be an equivalent sentence for a similar crime (e.g., 3 years for a felony assault), adolescents are paying for their crimes at a different point in their life journey; the impact of this experience may be more dramatic as a result. Identity formation is one of the most salient processes of adolescent development that incarceration might affect. To fashion a sense of self (i.e., to figure out who one is in relation to family and others, as well as what one’s future might hold), most adolescents follow a pattern of individuating from parents, orienting toward peers, and integrating components of attitudes and behavior into an autonomous self-identity (Collins and Steinberg, 2006) Adolescents in the adult system also often lose critical opportunities for learning in late adolescence. By definition, adolescence marks the transition period between childhood and adulthood during which an individual progresses toward adult levels of responsibility and adult roles. Adolescents gradually take greater control over an expanding range of life decisions; they also make mistakes, pick up pointers, and learn lessons along the way. According to Zimring (2005), during this period adolescents are operating with a “learner’s permit” for developing maturity; they are generally under the watchful eye of caring individuals and are afforded more tolerance from society for making bad choices. Learning about job-related expectations, gaining résumé-building skills, discovering qualities in a potential life partner, learning how to spend unstructured time, and learning to manage a household are not easily acquired behavioral repertoires—they require some trial and error. The regimented and highly structured schedules and restrictions in jail and prison environments, however, at best reduce opportunities to develop lasting romantic relationships, identify career interests, or develop work skills. Even the most progressive of these environments (e.g., specialized young adult offender programs) cannot provide experiences as broad as those provided to unconfined youth.

Friday, January 4, 2013

‘I was 16 when I was tortured, framed up, jailed for 28 years’

The Militant - December 31, 2012 -- ‘I was 16 when I was tortured, framed up, jailed for 28 years’ www.themilitant.com I was 16 years old when I became one of their victims and consequently spent 28 years of my life behind bars for a crime I did not commit.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Youth In Solitary Confinement In Jails And Prisons Across The US

Growing Up Locked Down Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States October 10, 2012 The 141-page report is based on research in both US jails and prisons in five states ­– Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania – and correspondence with young people in 14 others. The isolation of solitary confinement causes anguish, provokes serious mental and physical health problems, and works against rehabilitation for teenagers, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU found. How Solitary Confinement Harms Youth Psychological Harm rying to Cope Anxiety, Rage, and Insomnia Cutting and Self-Harm Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts: “The death-oriented side of life” Struggling with Mental Disabilities and Past Trauma Barriers to Accessing Care Physical Harm Lack of Adequate Exercise Physical Changes and Stunted Growth Social and Developmental Harm Denial of Family Contact Denial of Adequate Education Struggling with Intellectual Disabilities Failure to Provide for Rehabilitation or Social Development =========== Growing Up In Lock Down —Letter from Kyle B. (pseudonym), from California to Human Rights Watch, May 3, 2012. Every day, in jails and prisons across the United States, young people under the age of 18 are held in solitary confinement.[1] They spend 22 or more hours each day alone, usually in a small cell behind a solid steel door, completely isolated both physically and socially, often for days, weeks, or even months on end. Sometimes there is a window allowing natural light to enter or a view of the world outside cell walls. Sometimes it is possible to communicate by yelling to other inmates, with voices distorted, reverberating against concrete and metal. Occasionally, they get a book or bible, and if they are lucky, study materials. But inside this cramped space, few contours distinguish one hour, one day, week, or one month, from the next. This bare social and physical existence makes many young people feel doomed and abandoned, or in some cases, suicidal, and can lead to serious physical and emotional consequences. Adolescents in solitary confinement describe cutting themselves with staples or razors, hallucinations, losing control of themselves, or losing touch with reality while isolated. They talk about only being allowed to exercise in small metal cages, alone, a few times a week; about being prevented from going to school or participating in any activity that promotes growth or change. Some say the hardest part is not being able to hug their mother or father. The solitary confinement of adults can cause serious pain and suffering and can violate international human rights and US constitutional law. But the potential damage to young people, who do not have the maturity of an adult and are at a particularly vulnerable, formative stage of life, is much greater. Experts assert that young people are psychologically unable to handle solitary confinement with the resilience of an adult. And, because they are still developing, traumatic experiences like solitary confinement may have a profound effect on their chance to rehabilitate and grow. Solitary confinement can exacerbate, or make more likely, short and long-term mental health problems. The most common deprivation that accompanies solitary confinement, denial of physical exercise, is physically harmful to adolescents’ health and well-being. Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union estimate that in 2011, more than 95,000 youth were held in prisons and jails. A significant number of these facilities use solitary confinement—for days, weeks, months, or even years—to punish, protect, house, or treat some of the young people who are held there. Solitary confinement of youth is, today, a serious and widespread problem in the United States. This situation is a relatively recent development. It has only been in the last 30 years that a majority of jurisdictions around the country have adopted various charging and sentencing laws and practices that have resulted in substantial numbers of adolescents serving time in adult jails and prisons. These laws and policies have largely ignored the need to treat young people charged and sentenced as if adults with special consideration for their age, development, and rehabilitative potential. Young people can be guilty of horrible crimes with significant consequences for victims, their families, and their communities. The state has a duty to ensure accountability for serious crimes, and to protect the public. But states also have special responsibilities not to treat young people in ways that can permanently harm their development and rehabilitation, regardless of their culpability. This report describes the needless suffering and misery that solitary confinement frequently inflicts on young people; examines the justifications that state and prison officials offer for using solitary confinement; and offers alternatives to solitary confinement in the housing and management of adolescents. The report draws on in-person interviews and correspondence with more than 125 individuals who were held in jails or prisons while under age 18 in 19 states, and with officials who manage jails or prisons in 10 states, as well as quantitative data and the advice of experts on the challenges of detaining and managing adolescents. This report shows that the solitary confinement of adolescents in adult jails and prisons is not exceptional or transient. Specifically, the report finds that: •Young people are subjected to solitary confinement in jails and prisons nationwide, and often for weeks and months. •When subjected to solitary confinement, adolescents are frequently denied access to treatment, services, and programming adequate to meet their medical, psychological, developmental, social, and rehabilitative needs. •Solitary confinement of young people often seriously harms their mental and physical health, as well as their development. •Solitary confinement of adolescents is unnecessary. There are alternative ways to address the problems—whether disciplinary, administrative, protective, or medical—which officials typically cite as justifications for using solitary confinement, while taking into account the rights and special needs of adolescents. Adult jails and prisons generally use solitary confinement in the same way for adolescents and adults. Young people are held in solitary confinement to punish them when they break the rules, such as those against talking back, possessing contraband, or fighting; they are held in solitary confinement to protect them from adults or from one another; they are held in solitary confinement because officials do not know how else to manage them; and sometimes, officials use solitary confinement to medically treat them. There is no question that incarcerating teenagers who have been accused or found responsible for crimes can be extremely challenging. Adolescents can be defiant, and hurt themselves and others. Sometimes, facilities may need to use limited periods or forms of segregation and isolation to protect young people from other prisoners or themselves. But using solitary confinement harms young people in ways that are different, and more profound, than if they were adults. Many adolescents reported being subjected to solitary confinement more than once while they were under age 18. Forty-nine individuals—more than a third—of the seventy-seven interviewed and fifty with whom we corresponded described spending a total of between one and six months in solitary confinement before their eighteenth birthday. Adolescents spoke eloquently about solitary confinement, and how it compounded the stresses of being in jail or prison—often for the first time—without family support. They talked about the disorientation of finding themselves, and feeling, doubly alone. Many described struggling with one or more serious mental health problems during their time in solitary confinement and of sometimes having difficulty accessing psychological services or support to cope with these difficulties. Some young people, particularly those with mental disabilities (sometimes called psychosocial disabilities or mental illness, and usually associated with long-term mental health problems), struggled more than others. Several young people talked about attempting suicide when in isolation. Adolescents in solitary confinement also experienced direct physical and developmental harm, a consequence of being denied physical exercise or adequate nutrition. Thirty-eight of those interviewed said they had experienced at least one period in solitary confinement when they could not go outside. A few talked about losing weight and going to bed hungry. The report finds that young people in solitary confinement are deprived of contact with their families, access to education and to programming, and other services necessary for their growth, development, and rehabilitation. Twenty-one of the young people interviewed said they could not visit with loved ones during at least one period of solitary confinement. Twenty-five said they spent at least one period of time in solitary confinement during which they were not provided any educational programming at all. Sixteen described sitting alone in their cell for days on end without even a book or magazine to read. But as a number of jail and prison officials recognize, solitary confinement is costly, ineffective, and harmful. There are other means to handle the challenges of detaining and managing adolescents. Young people can be better managed in specialized facilities, designed to house them, staffed with specially trained personnel, and organized to encourage positive behaviors. Punitive schemes can be reorganized to stress immediate and proportionate interventions and to strictly limit and regulate short-term isolation as a rare exception. Solitary confinement of youth is itself a serious human rights violation and can constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international human rights law. In addition, the conditions that compound the harm of solitary confinement (such as lack of psychological care, physical exercise, family contact, and education) often constitute independent, concurrent, and serious human rights violations. Solitary confinement cannot be squared with the special status of adolescents under US constitutional law regarding crime and punishment. While not unusual, it turns the detention of young people in adult jails and prisons into an experience of unquestionable cruelty. It is time for the United States to abolish the solitary confinement of young people. State and federal lawmakers, as well as other appropriate officials, should immediately embark on a review of the laws, policies, and practices that result in young people being held in solitary confinement, with the goal of definitively ending this practice. Rather than being banished to grow up locked down in isolation, incarcerated adolescents must be treated with humanity and dignity and guaranteed the ability to grow, to be rehabilitated, and to reenter society. http://www.hrw.org/node/110545/section/2 NOTE>> In the United States, and throughout the report, the term ”jail” refers to a facility that generally holds individuals awaiting trial in the criminal justice system or sentenced to less than a year of incarceration; “prison” refers to a facility that generally holds individuals sentenced to one or more years of incarceration. This report uses various terms, including “youth,” “teenagers,” “children,” “young people,” and “adolescents,” interchangeably to refer to youth under the age of 18. Throughout the report, the term “solitary confinement” is used to describe physical and social isolation for 22 to 24 hours per day and for one or more days, regardless of the purpose for which it is imposed. While solitary confinement is apparently used in juvenile facilities on occasion, this report focuses only on its use in adult jails and prisons. Key Recommendations To the US Federal Government and/or State Governments •Prohibit the solitary confinement of youth under age 18. •Prohibit the housing of adolescents with adults, or in jails and prisons designed to house adults. •Strictly limit and regulate all forms of segregation and isolation of young people. •Monitor and report on the segregation and isolation of adolescents. •Ratify human rights treaties protecting young people without reservations. To Read More Of This Report Go >> http://www.hrw.org/node/110545/section/3

The Broken System

Our system is broken and everyone will pay the price for the miscarriages of justice,lack of compassion in prosecuting children as adults:There are currently 100,000 juveniles in the U.S. serving life without the possibility of parole.According to Amnesty International.Even if he or she did not personaly or directly cause the death:The laws states that anyone involved in the commission of a serious crime during which someone is killed,is guilty of murder. Over Zealous Da's,Money hungry politicians,An uninformed public fueled by media is locking away America:While Police Brutality On Our Streets And In Our Prisons Appears To Be Excepted By The General Public & The Courts. Also Our Prison System Is Currupt And Broke: Someone Is Reaping The Rewards!From Our Mass Prison Population! +++++++++++++++++++* Please help me in my fight for Juveniles charged as an adults,Never getting a second chance at life. Those Abused In Our State And County Lockups.And Find Help & Support For Those Imprisoned. Please invite others along the way to come in to post or learn. Knowledge is power & I need your help in gaining it & in getting it to others. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheBrokenSystem/