Two New Reports Detail How the Criminal Justice System Fails Youths
Date:  12-19-2016

The ACLU and The Sentencing Project s take on prosecutors and parole boards
From VOTE: From Chains to Change: The ACLU and The Sentencing Project have both released reports on the incarceration of America's children. The report from The Sentencing Project tracks the laws allowing prosecutors to put children in adult courts and prisons, while the ACLU report explores the failure of parole boards to release minors with parole eligibility, leaving them incarcerated until old age or death.

In New Orleans, the District Attorney has absolute power to prosecute minors in adult courts, and does so quite often. Though a successful “Raise the Age” campaign will force our criminal justice system to view 17-year-old children as minors, we expect an increase in children being tried as adults in the coming year as prosecutors push for additional waiver hearings to show that children cannot be rehabilitated, are incorrigible, or have had many opportunities to rehabilitate.

As the Louisiana legislature prepares to push a revised parole eligibility law for nearly 300 children previously sentenced to Life Without Parole and who still do not have a sentence, the report from the ACLU provides a national overview on what that parole may ultimately mean. The report also reveals that current Louisiana law, which some legislators want to make retroactive for those 300 kids (most of whom have now grown up in prison), is far more punitive than other states. These are the types of decisions, seemingly insignificant at the time, that add up to Louisiana spending nearly $1 billion to imprison a higher percentage of its population than any other state in the country.

Read The Sentencing Project Report How Tough on Crime Became Tough on Kids: Prosecuting Teen age Drug Charges in Adult Courts here.

Read the ACLU report False Hope: How Parole Systems Fail Youths Serving Extreme Sentences here.