The Jena Six and the Big Picture

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The case of the “Jena Six” in Louisiana has drawn public attention to the disproportionate treatment of racial groups in juvenile justice systems.

The case is “almost a prototype” of what is routinely seen around the country, said Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD).

Five of the Jena Six teens were initially charged as adults with attempted murder and murder conspiracy, for the beating in December of a white classmate at school. National attention to the case intensified last summer after one of the youths, 16-year-old Mychal Bell, was convicted on a lesser charge of aggravated battery and faced 15 years in prison.

A state appeals court overturned the conviction because of Bell’s age; he is awaiting trial as a juvenile, as is another of the youths, who is 14. The four who were 17 or older still face adult charges.

Graphics dispaly juvenile justice racial data from “And Justice for Some,” a 2007 report by NCCD.