By Christopher Zoukis The trend by states moving to reject life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders continued this year when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional on October 18. In State of Washington v. Brian Bassett, the court noted that states were “rapidly abandoning” the practice, since youth…Read More
By Christopher Zoukis Lower-income, and racial and ethnic minority youth are far more likely to face incarceration or probation because of an inability to pay debts imposed by the justice system, according to a report issued by Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center. The legal aid and advocacy group analyzed state laws on the fines, fees, restitution…Read More
A new report from Pew Trusts has revealed that one of the keystones to reducing recidivism amongst young people is broken. America’s predilection for jailing is having dangerous results for young people and the costs associated with out-of-home placements are not yielding positive results. Juvenile offenders held in correctional facilities are more likely to re-offend…Read More
By Dianne Frazee-Walker Dietrick Mitchell is just one of four dozen men in the Colorado Department of Corrections serving life without parole as adults in prison —sentenced when they were juveniles. Mitchell is now forty-years-old, but can easily be spotted in the prison yard with his awkward boyish looks. Tragically, men who were sentenced into…Read More
By Dianne Frazee-Walker Not only has our country earned the reputation for incarcerating more adults than any other country, but our criminal justice system has managed to win the world’s record for developed countries at 60,000 juveniles behind bars. Worldwide, The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at any given time an astronomical one million…Read More
On the evening of May, 15, 2010, 17-year-old Kalief Browder had no idea his life was about to change. The chain of events that led to Browder’s bizarre life change began when he and his friend were walking through the Bronx coming home from a party and were stopped by police. Browder soon found himself surrounded by a police squad with a spot light blinding him. You would have thought he was being accused of murder, but in actuality he was framed for stealing a back pack.
The police informed Browder and his friend that a Mexican individual claimed they stole his back pack. Browder revealed to the police his personal items in the back pack he carried and insisted he did not steal the back pack. A police officer stepped away to speak with the alleged victim who was sitting in a police car. When he returned he informed Browder the accuser had changed his story to indicate his back pack was stolen a few weeks ago. Apparently, the information was enough to warrant a trip to the Bronx precinct. The police officer promised Browder his visit to the precinct would be short lived, but the nightmare was just beginning.
Browder was interrogated and strongly encouraged to take a plea deal if he wanted to go home soon. Browder adamantly refused to accept a plea bargain and insisted on his innocence. His friend was released, but Browder was retained because he was currently on probation for being present during an auto-theft and accident. Bail was set at $3000, which Browder’s family was unable to post.
Browder was soon on his way to Rikers Island. He was held without bail while the case literally crawled through the system. Browder was continually pressured to plea out, but he didn’t give in because he was innocent. Browder was adamant about getting a trial to prove his innocence, but every time he went before the judge the trial was delayed for various reasons. One of the main reasons for a trial failing to transpire was the overload of cases in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, which was clogging-up the court system, making it impossible for a short staffed judicial system to deliver.Read More