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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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AL nonprofit urges Medicaid expansion to save rural hospitals; Harris skipping Netanyahu address shows daylight with Biden on Israeli leader; Biden to give first speech since dropping out of race; IN students face stricter attendance rules, new reading requirements; New Missouri law ensures medication access.

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Kamala Harris builds momentum toward nomination and vets potential Veeps. She and Trump take aggressive stances, as plans for a September debate continue. Sen. Bob Menendez says he'll resign, but will also appeal his corruption conviction.

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There's a gap between how rural and urban folks feel about the economy, Colorado's 'Rural is Rad' aims to connect outdoor businesses, more than a dozen of Maine's infrastructure sites face repeated flooding, and chocolate chip cookies rock August.

Youth diversion programs crucial for Alabama juvenile justice reform

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Friday, June 28, 2024   

Alabama has the eighth-highest youth incarceration rate in the nation and juvenile justice advocates said more diversion programs could be key to changing the trend.

A report from The Sentencing Project outlines how programs to help kids avoid jail can reduce their chances of committing crimes.

Richard Mendel, senior research fellow for the group, said when a young person is arrested, it has a lifelong negative impact, often leading to higher dropout rates, lower likelihood of attending college and reduced income by age 30.

"More and more, the research is making clear that expanding and improving diversion -- and reducing or hopefully eliminating disparities in diversion -- really has to be a top priority for reform," Mendel contended. "If we ever want to create a youth justice system that's fair and effective, and keeps communities safe, and that guides young people to success."

The report showed national disparities in who gets to be part of critical diversion programs, and access is especially challenging for youth of color. Mendel claimed a lack of leadership and weak policies are the primary problems.

Despite the challenges, Mendel emphasized there is hope for change and suggested using a data-driven approach to support diversion programs. He urged state and local justice systems to expand them and provide the needed funding, as other nations have done.

"These other countries have seen the evidence, they've heard the evidence and they started diverting more and more of their young people away from court; 75%, 80%, 83% of them, now diverted from court, not put into the court system," Mendel reported. "We've had our head in the sand, we're not improving on this at all, so far."

Youth in diversion programs are 45% less likely to reoffend than those who go through the court process. Yet more than half of juvenile cases are sent to the courts.


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