Interesting Reads on Youth Courts, Prison Industry, and DMC


JJ Today is back in D.C., and has finally sorted through the e-mail inbox. Three JJ-related papers of interest have been released of late that are worth at least a skim:

"The First Report to the Nation on Youth Courts and Teen Courts." If you're considering pushing for one, this is the ultimate background piece to provide to council members, mayor's offices, etc. It takes readers from the early youth courts in the 1980s, the proliferation of those programs in the 1990s, and more recent national efforts to enhance the practice. Written by Scott Peterson, a former OJJDP program manager who helped cultivate the federal interest in youth courts, and current OJJDP consultant Jill Beres. 

"Moving Target: A Decade of Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex." This report commemorates the 10th anniversary of Critical Resistance, an organization at the far left of the crime and punishment spectrum: They basically don't want anyone locked up. But even if you disagree with that world view, the report documents various facets of society that help fuel the practice of incarcerating less dangerous individuals instead of using other methods of punishment. The best sections are those documenting how much federal policing has outpaced local policing recently (page 13), the enormous role drug offenses play in causing racial disparity and overall incarceration rates (page 19), and how variations from best practice can ruin a drug or mental health court (page 34).

"Critical Condition: African-American Youth in the Justice System." It's been 20 years since efforts to reduce disproportionate minority contact became a requirement for getting money from OJJDP. Since few states have progressed past studying that notion and agreeing with it, the Campaign for Youth Justice lays it all out right here. Probably the best single documentation of racial disparity at the various points of the justice system. Now, can anyone actually do something about it?