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Thousands Of Juvenile Lifers Sentenced To Die In Prison In the US

Tuesday, October 23, might have been a routine day in prison for Avis Lee. “I got up at 5 am, took a shower, drank decaf coffee, prayed, ate breakfast and went to work at 8 am,” she recalled. Lee, who has been incarcerated for over 30 years, works as a peer assistant at the inpatient drug and alcohol therapeutic community at SCI Cambridge Springs, the Pennsylvania women’s prison. The routine was normal, but the day was not. In Philadelphia, nearly 350 miles away, the state’s superior court was hearing oral arguments about her prison sentence. “This hearing may very well determine what’s going to happen to me for the rest of my life,” Lee recalled thinking. In 1979, Lee’s older brother and his friend committed a robbery. Lee, then age 18, was the lookout.

Video Shows L.A. Probation Officers Brutally Beating Teenager

By Carimah Townes for Think Progress - As Los Angeles County reforms the largest juvenile justice system in the country, a new, damning video shows that the culture of abuse within that system remains intact. In surveillance footage leaked by whistleblowers inside a detention center, four probation officers are seen pummeling a teenager in a holding room. The silent video, recorded at L.A. County’s Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, shows the teen exchanging words with several officers standing in the room. All of a sudden, three officers lunge in his direction, slam him on a concrete cot, pile on top of him, and beat him.

Vigil Held Outside Juvenile Detention Center Where Teen Died

By Anna-Lysa Gayle for WLKY - HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. —Mourners gathered in Hardin County Sunday night to remember a teenager who died shortly after arriving at a juvenile detention facility. Dozens stood outside the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center, praying and shouting Gynnya McMillen's name as they called for answers. McMillen, 16, was found dead on Jan. 11, hours after she was admitted. She was brought there after a physical altercation with her mother.

Obama Bans Solitary Confinement For Juveniles

By Brendan O'Connor for Gawker - Writing in the Washington Post, President Obama has announced a ban on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and as a punishment for low-level infractions. Last summer, the president ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a review of solitary confinement’s overuse in U.S. prisons. The report is now complete and has been released to the public. The president writes that he will adopt its recommendations.

Report: Ohio’s Youth Prison Reform Is National Model

By Staff of NBC4i - A quarter-century after Ohio’s juvenile prison system was on the brink of crisis, it has become a model for others, according to a report released Monday. The state dramatically decreased the number of young people behind bars and saved taxpayers millions of dollars through the use of alternative programs, the Juvenile Justice Coalition said in the report. “Ohio’s de-incarceration programs are less expensive and more effective than prisons when youth are matched to the right programs,” the group’s executive director, Erin Davies, told Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Young Justice: Inside The Red Hook Youth Court

By Natalie Rinn for Brooklyn Magazine - Red Hook Youth Court is one of five operating Youth Courts in the city; other locations are in Queens, Staten Island, Harlem, Brownsville, and Newark. Youth Courts in New York operate in partnership with Community Justice Centers, like the one in Red Hook. (Many Youth Courts have popped up across the country in the past decade, though the one in Red Hook was both the city’s and one of the country’s first.) The overall directive of Community Justice Centers, which are supported by private and public partnerships, is to provide more effective and humane alternatives to detention, whenever possible. The Justice Center in Red Hook opened in June 2000, though the Youth Court had been established two years before that. Rather than herding young people into an overcrowded and frequently immoderately punitive system, Youth Court members deliver rehabilitative sanctions to teens for misdemeanors in an effort to nudge them back on track early on, before things have a chance to get really bad.

Culture Shock: The Problem Of Juvenile Justice

WHEN the Center for Investigative Reporting recently visited the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall — widely considered one of the best juvenile detention centers in the country — they found remarkably prison-like conditions, ranging from the bare, concrete walls to the use of solitary confinement as a method of disciplining youth. There are currently no federal or state laws that regulate the use of solitary confinement for juvenile offenders, despite overwhelming evidence of its harmful effects. But the abuses don’t stop there. A 2012 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice, determined that youth held in adult prison facilities suffered less instances of sexual violence than their peers in juvenile facilities. And in some facilities, the rate of juvenile recidivism is over 80 percent, meaning that the bulk of these young people will eventually add to the burgeoning prison population. There seems to be a consensus that the prison system as a whole isn’t working, and this is particularly true when it comes to juvenile detention. The United States incarcerates more young people under the age of 18 than any other industrialized country in the world. (By comparison, South Africa, our closest competitor, incarcerates its youth at one-fifth the rate of the United States.) Most juveniles who are sent to these facilities are from racial minorities. Many of them suffer abuses in prison that are heinous for adults and potentially ruinous for youth — solitary confinement, rape, repeated physical abuse, deprivation of sunlight, insufficient food and affection. Perhaps worst of all, children leave these facilities with additional traumas under their belts and no promise that their outside lives will improve.
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