Saturday, September 25, 2021

Play

New Yorkers voice concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional and state voting districts; and providers ask the Supreme Court to act on Texas' new abortion law.

Play

The January 6th committee subpoenas former Trump officials; a Senate showdown looms over the debt ceiling; the CDC okays COVID boosters for seniors; and advocates testify about scams targeting the elderly.

Play

A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Federal Bill Would Make Juvenile-Justice System More Fair, Age-Appropriate

Play

Thursday, April 29, 2021   

CHICAGO -- A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers will introduce a package of bills to make the way children and teens are treated in the federal criminal justice system more fair and age-appropriate.

The reforms include ending sentences of life without parole for children, establishing a minimum age for prosecuting children and protecting due process rights of children at the point of arrest, among others.

Xavier McElrath-Bey, co-executive director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, said by the time he was 13 years old, he had 19 arrests and seven convictions. He pointed out kids often are criminalized for the choices they make in response to trauma.

"I was hungry. I was living in poverty," McElrath-Bey recounted. "I see those as opportunities where they could have said, 'Wait a minute, why is this 9-year-old kid stealing from the store? Why is this 9-year-old kid taking quarters out of parking meters?'"

In 2019, of the more than 700,000 children across the country who were arrested, more than 200,000 were 14 or younger. More than 75,000 children were prosecuted in the adult system, more than 80% of them racial minorities, according to a report from Human Rights for Kids.

McElrath-Bey noted the legislation could be an important first and crucial step to ensure kids are viewed as untapped potential, no matter what mistakes they've made.

"No child is born bad. It's just that simple," McElrath-Bey contended. "If a child is arrested, it's our fault. It's our responsibility. Yes, we hold them accountable, but in age-appropriate, trauma-informed, and most importantly racially-equitable ways."

Elizabeth Clarke, founder and president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, said it's encouraging the federal government is taking a close look at the human rights of children.

"It's time to dismantle punitive provisions in the federal and state laws and rebuild the progressive and restorative system of justice that was enshrined a century ago when the U.S. designed the world's first juvenile court and was a leader in human rights for children," Clarke stated.

The Human Rights for Kids report found Illinois is among the worst at protecting children's rights in the justice system. Not only is there no minimum age for prosecuting kids in state courts, the state also allows prosecution and sentencing of kids in adult court.

Disclosure: Juvenile Justice Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, and Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
The climate resilience package includes $1.5 billion for measures to better defend the state against wildfires. (Peter Buschmann/U.S. Forest Service)

Environment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …


Social Issues

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …

Social Issues

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…


According to the World Health Organization, about one in six people age 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …

Environment

SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…

Roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States. (JP Photography/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …

Environment

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright © 2021