Juvenile Justice in the News




Los Angeles will wipe out nearly $90 million worth of debt incurred by juvenile offenders

Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approve motion to erase $90 million worth of debt held by juvenile offenders “across 52,000 accounts”.



California, L.A. Agree: Locking Up Young Children is ‘Nothing Good for Nobody’

Los Angeles County Supervisors make plans to take SB 439 (currently barring any minor under 11 years old from being prosecuted) one step further to prevent the criminalization of 12-13 year olds as well.



After Feds Leave, Pepper Spray Use Skyrockets Again in L.A.’s Juvenile Justice System
“Just a few years after Los Angeles County exited a monitoring agreement with the Department of Justice, the county’s probation department has seen a return of rampant use of pepper spray in settling altercations and other misbehavior at juvenile detention facilities.

According to a presentation by the L.A. County Probation Department at Thursday’s Probation Commission meeting, incidents involving pepper spray at the county’s Central Juvenile Hall increased 338 percent from 2015 to 2017.

Pepper spray use also increased by 214 percent at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey and by 192 percent at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar during that time, according to Luis Dominguez, acting deputy director for the Probation Department.”


L.A. Supervisors Demand Plan to Help “Crossover Kids,” Young People Failed by Two Juvenile Systems
L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a motion that “aims to create a multi-disciplinary countywide system to keep foster youth out of the juvenile justice system, while also ensuring that those who end up still being affected by both DCFS and the Probation Department, are given the services and caring help they need to heal and thrive.”


Justice Reform Experts Call for Complete Overhaul of L.A.’s Probation Department
“A 500-page report presented at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting […] recommended sweeping changes to the county’s probation department, including a complete restructuring of the department to separately handle adult and juvenile cases.”


California's top court strikes down 50-year sentences for juveniles
“The California Supreme Court decided […] that juveniles may not be sentenced to 50 years or longer in prison for kidnapping, rape and sodomy.”


Snitches Get Stitches: Can Kids Safely Report Abuse In LA County Lockups?
“For the young people in Los Angeles County’s 12 juvenile camps, 3 juvenile halls, and one juvenile placement center, there are three ways to respond actively to mistreatment at the hands of staff or another kid: File a “grievance” form. Tell a trusted adult and hope he or she goes to bat for you. Make a call to the Ombudsman’s helpline. But what happens when a kid desperately needs help and all of those methods fail?”


Attorney General Jeff Sessions Rescinds Key Guidance to Reduce or Eliminate Costs, Fines and Fees for Juvenile Offenders
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Department of Justice’s critical guidance on the use of costs, fines and fees for youth in the juvenile justice system. The guidance, which clarified existing law, was written by the Justice Department’s Office for Access to Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Office for Civil Rights under the Obama administration. The move followed a campaign of advocacy and research from Juvenile Law Center on the widespread abuse of costs, fines and fees in the juvenile justice system, and our publication of a groundbreaking national report on the issue.”


Los Angeles Board Of Supervisors Votes To Launch ‘Historic’ Juvenile Diversion Plan
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an ambitious plan to divert thousands of the county’s youth away from the juvenile and criminal justice systems, connecting them instead to a comprehensive array of supportive services.

SB 190 Becomes Law, Ending Harmful, Unlawful, and Costly Juvenile Justice Fees

“On October 11, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 190, a major, bipartisan juvenile justice reform bill that will improve youth rehabilitation and increase public safety. Effective January 1, 2018, SB 190 ends the regressive and racially discriminatory practice of charging administrative fees to families with youth in the juvenile system.”

Parents won’t have to foot bill for kids’ stints in juvenile hall
“Sacramento County has stopped charging parents whose kids live in juvenile hall, part of a growing movement to end fees that fall disproportionately on low-income and minority families who struggle to pay.”


In-Person Visits, New Underwear, More Counseling: Key Changes Sought in California Juvenile Detention
“Advocates say they expect most of their proposals to be accepted because they are designed to update regulations after federal and state laws are newly adopted or recent studies come out. In other cases, advocates want to ban certain procedures in state regulations, even if no one is practicing them.”


Dubious Arrests, Damaged Lives: How Shelters Criminalize Hundreds of Children
“Shelters in the nation’s largest foster care system are supposed to serve as a refuge for vulnerable children removed from unsafe homes. Instead, they have funneled hundreds of children, some as young as 8 years old, into the criminal justice system for relatively minor incidents, a Chronicle investigation has found.”


Thurgood Marshall Bar Association
"When Thurgood Marshall began his journey seeking equality and justice for all, racism, segregation, and discrimination were an accepted way of life in every corner of America.   

At Howard Law School, Thurgood Marshall was taught to be a legal social engineer with the aim of creating a more just society. A legal social engineer is a highly skilled, perceptive, sensitive lawyer who understands the Constitution of the United States and knows how to explore its uses in order to disrupt the systems and institutions rooted in bias that negatively impact communities across America.”

Is Juvenile Justice Beyond Repair?

 “Incarceration harms kids and creates repeat offenders. We know from the research that when young people are in contact with their families, they’re going to actually do much better,” says Ryan. Youth First works with partners around the country to dismantle incarceration systems that target children and to reinvest those state and federal funds into nonresidential community-based programs that allow young people to remain with their families while under court supervision.”





Commentary: Give Juveniles Their Due

“Our nation’s juvenile courts still lack procedure and formality. Though their informal processes may have developed with the intention of being kid-friendly, juvenile courts are also so focused on “fixing troubled youth” that they forget their primary function is to determine whether an accused child is delinquent or not.”


Commentary: Mentally Ill Kids Shouldn’t Languish in Juvenile Halls
“Juvenile halls are not an appropriate long term placement to house these children. Juveniles suffering from serious mental health issues or developmental disabilities must be provided services and treatment in a more appropriate, therapeutic long-term setting. Additionally, these youth need appropriately trained behavioral health clinicians providing their needed services.

Assembly Bill 935, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone and sponsored by the Chief Probation Officers of California, improves the outcomes of youth that go through this system.”




Juvenile injustice: $350 to defend a child
“Because contract attorneys are paid a single fee (which hasn't changed since 2009), their effective hourly rate shrinks with each successive task they perform. The more work they do on a case, the lower their hourly rate of pay.

In 2012, our research team finished a study of the Los Angeles juvenile justice system aimed at determining whether there were significant differences between the outcomes of clients represented by public defenders and those represented by appointed attorneys. Teams of researchers reviewed more than 3,000 randomly selected cases that spanned four years and came from every juvenile court in Los Angeles. The results, which will be published this fall, clearly demonstrate that there are huge differences in outcomes depending on whether a child is represented by a public defender or a $350-fee attorney.”


Report finds flaws in L.A. County's system for defending children accused of crimes
“Most youths charged with crimes in L.A. County are represented by deputy public defenders if their families can't afford to hire private defense attorneys. When there is a potential conflict of interest — for instance, if the public defender's office is already representing another defendant charged in the same case — private attorneys who contract with the county are appointed. Those lawyers, known as panel attorneys, are paid a flat rate of $340 to $360 per case.

Advocates have argued for years that the rate is too low for the amount of work required to provide an effective defense, and that children suffer as a result.”


Experts Concerned that LA County’s Juvenile Public Defense System Depriving Indigent Youth of Adequate Counsel
“Among other findings, the study — titled “Kids, Counsel and Costs: An Empirical Study of Indigent Defense Services in the Los Angeles Juvenile Delinquency Courts” — determined that juveniles represented by the panel attorneys had a 34 percent higher likelihood of ending up at a higher level of supervision than those facing the same charges but represented by public defenders. Cyn Yamashiro, an attorney and former director of the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School and one of the authors of the study, which was recently published in the Criminal Law Bulletin, said the research confirmed how crucial effective lawyering is in juvenile court. He pointed out that the lawyer is the only one who has complete access to a juvenile’s education, medical and psychological history.”
Kids, Counsel and Costs: An Empirical Study of Indigent Defense Services in the Los Angeles Juvenile Delinquency Courts




Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Juvenile Law Center

The Marshall Project