Juvenile Justice Summit Considers Future of Youth Justice

Posted December 7, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog washpostlivepatrick 2016

A Juve­nile Jus­tice Sum­mit at the Wash­ing­ton Post recent­ly brought togeth­er experts in the field to dis­cuss how fed­er­al and state efforts — includ­ing a move­ment to end soli­tary con­fine­ment for youth — can improve the jus­tice sys­tem for young peo­ple. The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion was the pre­sent­ing spon­sor, and news site Mic co-pre­sent­ed the summit.

Patrick McCarthy, the Foundation’s pres­i­dent and CEO, opened the event by call­ing for a youth jus­tice sys­tem that holds youth account­able, but holds itself account­able at the same time. Is that youth jus­tice sys­tem effec­tive in turn­ing young lives around?” he asked. Are com­mu­ni­ties safer and are we using tax­pay­er dol­lars wisely?”

Watch the Summit

McCarthy said that youth devel­op­ment, com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty and fis­cal pru­dence would be far bet­ter served if states closed every youth prison and replaced them with path­ways to suc­cess, such as com­mu­ni­ty alter­na­tives that work. We know that some young peo­ple will require some form of res­i­den­tial care and per­haps some form of secure care,” he added, say­ing that care should take place in facil­i­ties and res­i­den­tial treat­ment pro­grams that are small­er, more humane and focused com­plete­ly on help­ing young peo­ple turn their lives around.”

White House Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary and assis­tant to the Pres­i­dent Brod­er­ick John­son spoke about the My Brother’s Keep­er Ini­tia­tive with Pulitzer Prize-win­ning Wash­ing­ton Post jour­nal­ist Wes­ley Low­ery. John­son empha­sized the system’s role in pro­vid­ing sec­ond chances for young peo­ple, espe­cial­ly oppor­tu­ni­ties for employ­ment and edu­ca­tion for jus­tice-involved youth.“This coun­try can­not con­tin­ue to have mil­lions of young peo­ple off the play­ing field,” he said.

John­son not­ed that the White House launched the Fair Chance Busi­ness Pledge and Fair Chance Edu­ca­tion Pledge to encour­age employ­ers and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions to elim­i­nate unnec­es­sary bar­ri­ers fac­ing those with a crim­i­nal record. More than 300 employ­ers and 25 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties have signed the respec­tive pledges to date.

Two mem­bers of the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee — Christo­pher Coons (D‑Del.) and Thom Tillis (R‑NC) — spoke out against soli­tary con­fine­ment for youth and urged the youth jus­tice sys­tem to focus on reha­bil­i­ta­tion rather than punishment.

The Wash­ing­ton Posts Cheryl W. Thomp­son talks with Sen­a­tors Christo­pher Coons (D‑Del.) and Thom Tillis (R‑NC). Pho­to cred­it: April Greer for The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Lucas Coun­ty (Tole­do), Ohio Admin­is­tra­tive Judge Denise Navarre Cub­bon; Mary Ann Scali, the act­ing exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Nation­al Juve­nile Defend­er Cen­ter and Charles Cul­ly” Stim­son, a senior legal fel­low with the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, expressed the impor­tance of alter­na­tives to deten­tion and incar­cer­a­tion for youth, treat­ing youth in the jus­tice sys­tem dif­fer­ent­ly than adults and effec­tive representation.

The research tells us that kids do best at home in their com­mu­ni­ties with ser­vices — and not just low-offend­ing kids,” said Judge Cub­bon. We’re talk­ing about kids who com­mit some pret­ty seri­ous offens­es. With a sys­tem of respons­es to their behav­ior that take account of their needs — and when we join with their fam­i­lies in a respect­ful way — we can help these kids to change their lives… These are our chil­dren, not just court kids, or agency kids or fos­ter kids. They are our children.”

Learn more about the Foun­da­tion’s juve­nile jus­tice work

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