Modest Reform: How JJDPA matters and why it is still not enough

On December 21, President Trump signed H.R.6964 – Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. This law reauthorizes the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Reauthorization Act. First authorized in 1974, the act ensured certain minimum standards for the treatment of youth in the justice system, banning incarceration for status offenses (such as drinking, which is prohibited only based on the age of the accused) and adopting a requirement that youth incarcerated in adult facilities have sight and sound separation from adult inmates. Since 1974, reauthorizations of the law have included provisions that require states address racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system and incentives for states to use evidence-based interventions to reduce juvenile delinquent activity.

However, despite seeming longstanding federal commitment to the idea that all young people deserve a second chance, the JJDPA had languished, pending reauthorization, for more than ten years. So, when Trump signed the reauthorization act on the coattails of the much anticipated Second Chance Act, juvenile justice practitioners everywhere (myself included) were relieved and elated.

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The Sword and the Pen — A Story of a Veterans Creative Writing Group

In the spring of 2017, I was working as a Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator in Montana. I’d heard about groups that used creative writing as a form of therapy for veterans but hadn’t heard of any in Great Falls. So, I worked woman writing on mountain summit with the local Vet Center to start a group called The Sword and the Pen. Initially, we met every other Thursday and by October of 2017, prior to my moving to DC to pursue a graduate degree, we were meeting every week, rain or shine.

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Reframing our perception of young people in the juvenile justice system

I believe in art! I see it as a powerful tool whether used in teaching, as I’ve seen first-hand through the eyes of my good friend, Sara, who is an art teacher in a DC elementary school, or as I experienced this week during a remarkable photo exhibit, by Richard Ross, which focuses on juvenile injustice.

As I looked at the photos of young people not much older than my daughter, incarcerated and isolated I wondered: is it possible to reframe our perception IMG_20190205_160355of young people in the juvenile justice system to see them as young adolescents who are still developing, instead of, in a discriminatory manner, labeling and incarcerating them as offenders for adolescent behavior –ultimately causing irreparable harm?

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Friday News Roundup: February 1, 2019

Friday News Roundup

This week in the news – criminal justice reform is classified as a humanitarian issue in West Virginia, Purdue Pharma and several top executives are named in a lawsuit as profiteers of the opioid crisis, and a federal bill to support the expansion of veterans treatment courts nationwide is introduced in Congress. All these stories and more in this week’s news roundup. Continue reading “Friday News Roundup: February 1, 2019”

“What’s the Story?” Reflection: The Marshall Project Monthly Speakers Series and the Power of Media

This past Fall, The Marshall Project launched, “What’s the Story?”, a monthly speaker series that highlights how narratives and media impact criminal justice policies and practices. The latest event on January 23, 2019 featured Tayari Jones, Piper Kerman, and David Simon. All three spoke powerfully about how broadcast and print media can shape perceptions and drive the narrative around criminal justice.

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Veteran Mentors in Veterans Treatment Court: Engage, Encourage, Empower

Over the past decade, veterans treatment courts have transformed the way the justice system identifies, assesses, and responds to veterans. One of the keys to veterans treatment court’s success has been the inclusion of veterans from the community who serve as mentors to their fellow veterans in crisis.

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