On any given night in America, 10,000 children are held in adult jails and prisons. Approximately 7,500 of these kids have never been convicted of a crime.
These are horrendous numbers! These are children often tried for non-violent crimes that are housed in adult jails and prisons with hard-core offenders!
Research and data, when paid attention to, give us the answers. Children charged and sentenced as adults are more likely to re-offend, re-offend quicker and with more serious charges than their counterparts who remain in the juvenile justice system.
To quote advocates for Campaign for Youth & Justice–“Many children are placed in isolation which can produce harmful consequences, including death. Youths in adult facilities are frequently locked down 23 hours a day in small cells with no natural light. These conditions can cause anxiety, paranoia, and exacerbate existing mental disorders putting youth at risk of suicide. In fact, youths housed in adult jails are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than are youths housed in juvenile detention facilities.”
The adult system is typically thought to be more punishment-oriented than the juvenile system, but the minor crimes that youths commit mean that the majority are given adult probation sentences as well as a lifelong adult criminal record that makes it hard for them to get jobs in the future.
The Campaign for Youth & Justice is a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 years in the adult criminal justice system. Numerous studies have found that youths who are prosecuted and sentenced in the adult criminal justice system are more likely to commit future crimes than youths who are held accountable through the juvenile system.
The Campaign for Youth & Justice has a very valuable website that helps parents, educators and at-risk youths to navigate the correctional system and provide resources to help have your voice heard.
There is a wealth of information on the website that can help parents that have children in the criminal justice system. Included are the Campaign Resource Center, which guides families and communities to help begin advocacy for charging those under 18 in the juvenile system instead of the adult criminal system.
Please read more to find out how you can help create change for at-risk youths with the Campaign for Youth & Justice.