The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case involving juvenile offenders. The decision will affect hundreds of offenders convicted as minors and currently serving life sentences without parole.
Depending on the severity of the alleged crime, the court may certify a juvenile defendant as an adult. If a child is successfully certified, the juvenile court will lose jurisdiction over the criminal matter, and the case will be transferred to adult criminal court.
We are finishing up our discussion of the juvenile justice system and whether probation is a reasonable, effective alternative to incarceration. Research indicates that incarceration, in fact any contact with the juvenile system increases the risk that the youthful offender will become an adult offender.
We are continuing our discussion of the juvenile justice system and the dilemma it presents to policymakers. More and more, it is looking as if incarceration is not the answer. Detention residences have not been particularly successful at rehabilitating juvenile offenders, and there is evidence that the experience itself may very well make the situation worse. Not only are offenders learning new criminal behaviors, but already troubled youth are being traumatized.
A couple of months ago, the Department of Public Safety published a report based on the results of the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey. The anonymous survey is sent to students in grades 5, 8, 9 and 11 every three years as a way to gather information about kids' attitudes about school and family, for example, as well as about risk factors, including drugs and alcohol. In 2013, the state collected 162,000 responses.
In 1977, Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in Utah. Those of us old enough to remember the case will recall that Gilmore had specifically requested his method of execution and that the request put Gilmore on the front pages of newspapers around the country. He had killed two men in separate robberies, his final acts as a career criminal. He used the term himself, by the way, according to his brother Mikal's book, "Shot in the Heart."
In recent years and months, concerns about racial profiling and excessive force against black Americans have remained in the national spotlight. As cities like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland erupted into violent protests and demonstrations; other cities have been forced to review their own records and practices with regard to disparities in police activities involving minority populations and specifically black residents.
Roughly one year ago, we wrote a blog post about five Minnesota teens who were facing serious criminal charges related to the overdose death of a 17-year-old Woodbury girl. The five were accused of providing the girl with a synthetic drug that was manufactured to mimic the effects of the hallucinogenic drug LSD.
There's a saying that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, and cities across the U.S. often have parades and other fun events to celebrate the holiday. According to the Minneapolis St. Patrick's Day Association, the city's St. Patrick's Day parade tradition dates back to 1969 and today is considered a fun family event.
Historically, when it comes to dealing with juvenile offenders, the United States has taken a tough love approach. Punishments for crimes committed by individuals under the age of 18 may include incarceration at a juvenile detention facility. For the kids who end up in these facilities, high school graduation rates drop by nearly 40 percent while rates of incarceration by age 25 increase 41 percent.