“The kids aren’t all right”

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In this timely and insightful piece in The Hill on March 11 by the CA’s Gabrielle Horowitz-Prisco,  Director of the Juvenile Justice Project, and Sarah Bryer, Director of the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), the authors lay out a cogent and fact-based case for why there needs to be significant change in our youth justice system.

Citing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, and the Department of Justice, Horowitz-Prisco and Bryer  use the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court Roper v. Simmons decision outlawing the execution of anyone under 18 as an opportunity  to remind us that youth remain significantly at a higher risk of physical, mental and sexual abuse  when  they are placed in locked facilities  instead of safe, community-based alternatives with the critical support services youth need to be successful.

In an excerpt from the article, Horowitz-Prisco and Bryer state: “… our youth justice system still subjects children and teens to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse on an appallingly regular basis. When parents send their children off to school, they can expect a call if their children are hurt, sick, or misbehaving. Nothing of the sort happens when the state takes physical custody of children and teens. In February 2010, when Michael McIntosh tried to visit his son in Mississippi’s Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, officials told him that they couldn’t find his son. Six weeks later, he located his son in an area hospital, beaten so badly in a riot at the facility that he couldn’t see and was suffering from brain damage. Nor was this an isolated incident. A lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center and investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice of Walnut Grove (a facility run by a private contractor) revealed a pattern of youth beaten by staff, encouraged to fight, regularly victimized sexually by staff and peers, and more.”

Read the entire article here.