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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/