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Charging juveniles as juveniles is better for them -- and us

"Habitually transferring juvenile offenders to adult court – as Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley seems to be doing - isn’t likely to make our communities safer and may, in fact, make them more dangerous.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in a 2011 bulletin on the laws regarding the transfer of juveniles into adult court, warned against 'blanket statements about their effects.' But, that document reads, 'insofar as these laws are intended to deter youth crime generally, or to deter or reduce further criminal behavior on the part of youth subjected to transfer, re­search over several decades has generally failed to establish their effectiveness.'"

Broken Contracts Report

"The Gault Court left it to states to determine how to implement the ruling and ensure the constitutional rights of young people. Many states further delegated the responsibility to counties, and even to individual courts. This has created a patchwork of approaches and systems for ensuring appointed counsel, meaning that the protection of children’s constitutional right to counsel varies greatly depending on where in the country—and even where within a state—a child faces delinquency charges."

2019 REPORT OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT TASK FORCE ON EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATIONS

"The Task Force was charged with making recommendations 'to promote reliable practices for eyewitness investigation and to effectively deter unnecessarily suggestive identification procedures, which raise the risk of wrongful conviction.'"

Opinion: I am proof that children shouldn’t be prosecuted in adult court

"When PCBF paid my bail, they changed my court case’s outcome and my life. Once I arrived home, I got to work. Within a month, I was working as a youth organizer with YASP. I talked to young people in schools, explaining my story and helping them stay out of the system. I canvassed and worked to repeal the laws that allowed me to be placed in an adult jail as a young person. At my first speaking engagement, I addressed 1,200 audience members and 20 City Council candidates. I helped launch the first youth Participatory Defense hub in the nation, where I support other young people and their families in navigating the court system every week."

Courts Work to Lower Ohio's High Rate of Girls in Detention

"Ohio ranks in the top eight states nationwide for the number of girls in youth detention facilities, and Cuyahoga County is now working to change that."

15% of Ohio juveniles say they are sexually victimized while in custody

"The number of youth who reported being sexually victimized dropped nationwide, from 9.5% in 2012 to 7.1% percent in 2018. * * * The Circleville Juvenile Correction Facility near Columbus had a sexual assault rate estimated at 16.7%, among the highest in the nation. The justice department said the majority of sexual acts were committed by staff members as opposed to other youth." 

Tamir Rice Safety Handbook

End local policies that disproportionately send black children to adult prison: Danielle Sydnor

"The question of how to address the mistakes of youth is not a new one. When a child causes harm, they should be held accountable and we should work to rehabilitate them. That is what the juvenile courts were created to do. But children should not be held accountable in a way that causes them harm and makes it more likely that they will continue to cause harm to others."

Juvenile Justice Groups Say Felony Murder Charges Harm Children, Young Adults

"Felony murder is not your average murder. Juvenile justice advocates call felony murder laws arcane and say they unfairly harm children and young adults. Prosecutors can charge them with felony murder even if they didn't kill anyone or intend to do so. What's required is the intent to commit a felony — like burglary, arson or rape — and that someone dies during the process.

Everyone involved in that underlying felony can be held responsible for the death. In some cases, a person who wasn't even present when the death occurred may face a felony murder charge too. It's a controversial provision that has been around for hundreds of years. It got its start in England, which abolished the rule in the 1950s. Other countries followed suit."

HARMLESS ERROR: EXPLAINED

"Under a legal doctrine called “harmless error,” appellate judges routinely affirm convictions tainted by legal error whenever they feel confident that the person appealing the conviction is guilty. The doctrine receives far less attention than stories about the misbehavior of police and prosecutors, but as one of the most frequently invoked doctrines in all of criminal appeals, it has a profound influence on the behavior of everyone inside our criminal system, including police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges."

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