Juvenile Justice Research Data & Publications
Adults often start conversations with children by asking them what they want to be when they grow up. We tell them to dream big, and encourage them by giving them pretend doctor's kits, fancy dress-up clothes, and other toys that let them imitate adult life.
The state of Missouri has created a juvenile justice system that has proved so successful over the last thirty years it's known as the "Missouri Miracle." A number of practices combine to make Missouri's system unique: It's primarily made up of small facilities, generally designed for between ten and thirty youths, located at sites throughout the state that keep young people close to their own homes. These facilities don't look like jails with traditional cells; there are only eight isolation rooms in the entire state, which are seldom used and only for emergency situations. They feature a highly trained and educated staff working in teams with small groups of youths.
When young Black men are the victims of violent injuries in their urban neighborhoods, what happens next? This question haunted Dr. John Rich, who was educated at Dartmouth, Duke, and Harvard, was a primary care doctor at Boston Medical Center, and was the founder of the city's Young Men's Health Clinic. In both settings he was in constant contact with young men who had been victims of violence, and of course he was deeply concerned about the physical scars he kept treating. But as a Black doctor dealing with the aftermath of violence in young Black men day after day, Dr. Rich felt a special connection with his patients and wanted to know about more than just the medical effects of the gunshot and knife wounds he was seeing.
A homeless man talking about how he ended up on the streets said he had wanted to get in with the "cool" crowd in 8th or 9th grade—a crowd that smoked marijuana, got into fights, and skipped school. No adult reached out to help him turn his life around so he continued his decline into a life of chronic joblessness and poverty, and long stretches of incarceration after he dropped out of school.
I'm deeply disturbed that after a decade of decline, the number of firearm deaths among children and youths has increased for the second year in a row. Our 2009 "Protect Children, Not Guns" report released in September reveals that almost nine children and teens die from gunfire every day—one child death every two hours and 45 minutes.
This report provides key findings on child gun deaths including firearm deaths of children and teens by manner (e.g. homicide, suicide, accident, unknown), state, race/hispanic origin, year and age group. The report also provices various ways we can step up and take action to protect children and teens from gun violence.
Hundreds of thousands of our nation's children are being funneled down life paths that lead to arrest, conviction, incarceration and even death. The urgent challenge for each of us and for our nation is to prevent this waste of our children's lives and of our nation's capabilities and future.
Nationally, one in three Black boys and one in six Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of going to prison during their lifetimes. Although boys are more than five times as likely to be incarcerated as girls, the number of girls in the juvenile justice system is significant and growing.
The Youth PROMISE Act shifts the policy paradigm from ineffective punishment and incarceration to evidence-based prevention and intervention to address juvenile delinquency. The Youth PROMISE Act is a helpful response to the pipeline to prison crisis because it takes major steps to substitute the pipeline to prison with a pipeline to successful adulthood for many of our youths.
Over the last three decades, politicians from Capitol Hill to local city councils have generated law enforcement polices and practices based on the mantra that we have to "get tough on crime."