MAJDC News & Announcements

District of Columbia: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Juvenile Defense Counsel

Released on June 7, 2018, the District of Columbia Assessment is based on interviews, observation, and research conducted by a team of expert investigators who analyzed DC’s Family Court and juvenile defense systems throughout 2017.  In many respects, the District of Columbia is an example for other jurisdictions across the country to follow as to best practices in juvenile defense. But even in a system as well-funded and functional as DC’s there are challenges in structure and quality that need improvement. This Assessment outlines the investigative team’s findings and provides Core Recommendations for improving DC’s juvenile defense systems, along with implementation strategies specific stakeholder groups can undertake in order to address shortcomings. Read More.


Former Culpeper Juvenile Center to Reopen July 2017

August 21, 2016, Culpeper, VA, When the Culpeper Correctional Center for Women opens in July 2017 in the old Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center in Mitchells, the prison will likely house about 500 female inmates, according to Virginia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney. Read More


Lynchburg Juvenile Detention Center Investigated After Juveniles Escape; No Wrongdoing Found

August 20, 2016, Roanoke, VA, Two teenage boys who escaped from a Lynchburg Juvenile Detention Center program and remained at large for a week were found in Roanoke Friday. Read More


Maryland public defenders juggle heavy caseloads; critics say indigent clients suffer

August 20, 2016, Baltimore, MD, The Annapolis district courts have not been gaveled into session for the day, but already more than a dozen criminal defendants and their relatives are milling around in the hallway when a public defender arrives, a stack of thick manila folders under his arm. Read More


Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center on Track to Shut Down in 2017

August 19, 2016, Powhatan, VA, The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice is trying to make more than a year’s lead time work in its favor to minimize the negative effects of closing Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center in Powhatan County in June 2017. Read More


Md. Should Stop Cuffing and Shackling Juvenile Offenders

August 18, 2016, Baltimore, MD, We urge Maryland’s Task Force to Study the Restraint, Searches, and Needs of Children in the Juvenile Justice System to carefully consider the best practices across the country before concluding its work. Read More


State Employees Union, Juvenile Services Spar Over Staffing at Center for Young Offenders

August 17, 2016, Frederick, MD, A union for state employees claims staffing shortages are endangering youth and staff at a residential center for high-risk young offenders in Sabillasville, an assertion denied by the Department of Juvenile Services. Read More


Drug Courts Pay Off for Offenders and Society, Advocates Say

August 16, 2016, Alexandria, VA, Evidence-based drug courts have grown to more than 3,000 courts in the United States, helping more than 127,000 individuals in the criminal justice system in 2014, a professional group says, with West Virginia seeing advantages from the program. Read More

Department of Juvenile Services Considering Limits to Strip-Searches and Shackling

August 14, 2016, Baltimore, MD, The Department of Juvenile Services says it is considering new limits on when youths are strip-searched and shackled, a signal that the agency is softening its stance on policies that have drawn the ire of lawmakers and advocates. Read More


Supreme Court Halts DHHR Contract Changes

August 10, 2016, Charleston, WV, The West Virginia Supreme Court has issued a stay that will keep the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources from implementing new provider agreements for 19 residential psychiatric care facilities for children as planned, after lawyers representing several of the agencies appealed a circuit court decision issued late last month. Read More


New Juvenile Facilities Will be Better, but Will Funding Suffice?

August 7, 2016, VA, Virginia should design its juvenile prisons for rehabilitating young inmates instead of simply imprisoning them, says a preliminary report from a state study group. Read More


For Office on Youth, Growing Pains

August 6, 2016, Hopewell, VA, Despite growing support for the establishment of an Office on Youth in Hopewell, disagreement has emerged over the form the new office should take, threatening to slow down the momentum it has gathered. Read More


Task Force Calls for ‘Significantly Smaller’ Youth Correctional Facilities

August 5, 2016, Richmond, VA, A new report is calling for “significantly smaller” juvenile correctional facilities in Virginia.

An interim report from a state task force recommends that juvenile offenders be housed in small living units closer to their homes. The new report finds juvenile correctional facilities should be designed to provide the youth with a therapeutic environment rather than just confining them to a space. Read More


Virginia Beach Police Receive Grant to Protect Children From Online Crimes

August 4, 2016, Virginia Beach, VA, The Virginia Beach Police Department will use part of a regional $65,000 grant to protect children from internet crimes.

City Council approved Tuesday the appropriation of the funds from the Department of Criminal Justice Services to the city’s police department to investigate internet crimes against children (ICAC). The grant will fund equipment needed for investigations, overtime for related travel and training to complete ICAC investigations. Read More


Ethics Charges Filed Against Attorney who Defeated Longtime Nicholas Co. judge

August 2, 2016, Charleston, WV, An attorney who defeated a longtime Nicholas County circuit judge in May’s election is facing ethics charges over a flier sent to voters during the campaign. Read More


Shutting Down the School-to-Prison Pipeline

July 31, 2016, Baltimore, MD, A recent report from the U.S. Department of Education indicating that state and local funding for prisons has grown three times faster than funding for pre-K-12 education offered a sharp reminder of how decades of law-enforcement policy based on mass incarceration have warped the nation’s priorities. In far too many cases, the nation’s prisons have become the dumping grounds for America’s failure to adequately invest in its children’s future. Read More


Maryland Gives Out $1.3M in Public Safety Grants

July 27, 2016, Prince Georges County, MD, Throughout July public safety grants were given to police and service departments across Maryland from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. The grants, varying in totals and causes, were given to restorative justice programs, the Domestic Violence Unit Program to help victims and law enforcement agencies in every region of the state. The approximately $1,038, 533 in awards were distributed to agencies that respond to the causes on July 5, 11, and 12. Grant funding became available on July 1, the beginning of Maryland’s fiscal year. Read More


Judge Denies Injunction of WV DHHR on Child-Placement Reimbursement 

July 29, 2016, Charleston, WV, A Kanawha County circuit judge denied an injunction request Friday that would have halted changes to West Virginia’s reimbursement model for children in long-term psychiatric care facilities — the same day a special Supreme Court commission released a statement accusing the Department of Health and Human Resources of developing those changes “in secret.” Read More


Concerns Raised Over DHHR Juvenile Reimbursement Changes 

July 27, 2016, Charleston, WV, Children could be endangered and some state facilities forced to close if the state Department of Health and Human Resources changes how it pays to place juveniles in residential treatment facilities when ordered to do so by judges, speakers told the Juvenile Justice Commission during a six-hour hearing Wednesday. Read More


Stinging Criticism for DHHR for not Attending Child Placement Forum

July 27, 2016, Charleston, WV, The chairman of the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission strongly criticized the state Department of Health and Human Resources Wednesday for not attending a public forum concerning child welfare reform. Read More


DHHR Secretary on Child Welfare Reform

July 26, 2016, Charleston, WV, State Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Karen Bowling says she’s not going to a public forum scheduled Wednesday morning about her agency’s child welfare reform efforts. Read More


House Judiciary Committee Reauthorizes Federal Juvenile Justice Block Grants

July 13, 2016, Washington, DC, House lawmakers say the reauthorization of a major grant program could encourage more federal funding for juvenile justice programs.

The House Judiciary Committee approved today by voice vote legislation (HR 68)to reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program, which lapsed in 2009 and has received no funding since 2013. Read More


Juvenile Justice Commission to Host Forum on Proposed DHHR Changes

July 13, 2016, Charlestown, WV, The Juvenile Justice Commission will host a public forum later this month regarding the state Department of Health and Human Resources plan to change child shelter care and residential service.

The forum is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. July 27, and it will be held in the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee room, Room 208W, in the West wing of the Capitol. Read More


Report Looks at Ways to Change Juvenile Justice System in Virginia

July 12, 2016, Richmond, VA, A new report outlines steps the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice , the Task Force on Juvenile Correction Centers and the community across the Commonwealth can take to keep families intact and communities safe. The Reinvest in Supportive Environments for Youth Campaign Coalition, or RISE for Youth, released a report Tuesday advocating for the implementation of an improved model, replacing outdated prisons with smaller home-like settings. Read More


Goal is Kids Out of Court and in School

July 8, 2016, Charleston, WV, The U.S. Department of Education recently released data on absenteeism in the United States. The reports paint a grim picture — 1 in 8 students had 15 or more unexcused absences. This correlates with lower graduation rates and an increased likelihood of unemployment or incarceration as adults. Dealing with this issue is complex but critical, if we’re going to keep these kids on the path to graduation, employment, and hope for a thriving adulthood. Read More


Maryland’s second-highest court orders juveniles unshackled in court

July 1, 2016, Baltimore, MD, Maryland’s second-highest court has ruled that youths should not appear shackled in juvenile courtrooms, a decision that cements long-standing efforts to curb the controversial practice. Read More


Fairness for all lifers, not just juveniles

July 1, 2016, Baltimore, MD, Alison Knezevich details how Maryland inmates who are serving parole-eligible life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles may now be considered for minimum-security and prerelease facilities (“Md. juvenile lifers could be considered for minimum-security, work release programs in policy shift,” June 26). Public Safety Secretary Stephen T. Moyer’s decision to reverse the rules that for 23 years have prevented any Maryland lifer from being placed in facilities below medium-security is a wise decision. The change comes in response to recent Supreme Court decisions on juvenile life sentences, according to spokesman Gerry Shields. Read More


Virginia’s New Guidelines Call for Shorter Lengths of Stay

August 17, 2015, Virginia, On August 3, Virginia’s Board of Justice voted in favor of new length of stay guidelines for young people confined in Virginia’s youth justice system. The new guidelines reduce the amount of time young people are required to spend in lockup, and provide guidance for length of stay to be determined based on individual needs and risk. The new guidelines take into account data from Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, which indicates that the average length of stay for youth in the state was more than double the national average, as well as the average of six “comparable states.” Read More.


Federal Freeze on Juvenile Justice Grant Hits Crime Prevention Efforts

August 7, 2015, More than $1.5 million in funds are on hold as the U.S. Department of Justice tries to determine if Wisconsin has improved its oversight of juveniles behind bars. As a result, several efforts to reduce crime and violence among kids are running out of money or haven’t gotten off the ground. Wisconsin is one of several states and territories accused of improperly receiving the funds, but the only one to have its grants frozen. Read More.


Closing of Baltimore Detention Center Marks a Milestone

July 31, 2015, Annapolis, MD, An announcement by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan that he is closing the Baltimore City Detention Center marked a milestone in long-standing problems with the state’s dangerously decrepit correctional facilities. Read More.


Maryland Increases High School Drop-Out Age To 17

July 30, 2015, Maryland, The age of when a student is allowed to drop out of high school in Maryland, has increased. The new Age of Compulsory School Attendance law, Senate Bill 362 that was signed into law in 2012, has now raised the compulsory school attendance age to 17. This means that students under the age of 17, cannot drop out of school. In 2017, the age will be raised again, to 18. Read More.


Meant To Keep Youths Out of Detention, Probation Often Leads Them There

July 29, 2015, Juvenile justice reformers have tried for years to figure out what works to help rehabilitate youth in trouble, and a recent shift away from locking kids up has been at the forefront of reform efforts. One of the most common alternatives to incarceration is to order kids directly into probation, instead of juvenile hall. Read More.


Governor Tomblin Launches Statewide Truancy Initiative, Effort Part of Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform Legislation

July 25, 2015, Charleston, WV, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the launch of the Truancy Diversion Initiative, part of the governor’s comprehensive juvenile justice reform in West Virginia. The governor introduced the proposal as part of his 2015 State of the State address in January and signed Senate Bill 393 into law April 2, 2015. Read More.


Community Conferencing Gets Increased Program Funding

July 17, 2015, Easton, MD, Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Community Conferencing program recently earned increased funding for the new fiscal year, thanks to its success in keeping young offenders out of the juvenile justice system. Read More.


Congress, Obama Tackle Unequal Treatment of Minors in the Juvenile Justice System

July 16, 2015, Harsh and unequal treatment of minors in the juvenile justice system has come under scrutiny during a congressional hearing on incarceration in AmericaThe hearing on Wednesday before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took place as bipartisan momentum builds to negotiate sentencing reforms and other measures aimed at creating a fairer, smarter, more cost-effective criminal-justice system. The session took place a day after President Barack Obama delivered a speech encouraging Congress to pursue reforms rolling back mass incarceration for low-level offenses. The president also urged changes to address a so-called school-to-prison pipeline affecting mostly lower-income and struggling communities.  Read More.


Juvenile Justice Clinic Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Leadership Changes and New Initiatives

June 8, 2015, Washington, DC, Just a few years after the Supreme Court extended the right to counsel and procedural due process to children in its landmark case In re Gault, Georgetown University Law Center created one of the first law school-based clinics specializing in children’s issues.  Now, 40 years later, the Juvenile Justice Clinic is marking its anniversary with leadership changes and new initiatives. Read More.


Virginia’s New Guidelines Call for Shorter Lengths of Stay

August 17, 2015, Virginia, On August 3, Virginia’s Board of Justice voted in favor of new length of stay guidelines for young people confined in Virginia’s youth justice system. The new guidelines reduce the amount of time young people are required to spend in lockup, and provide guidance for length of stay to be determined based on individual needs and risk. The new guidelines take into account data from Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, which indicates that the average length of stay for youth in the state was more than double the national average, as well as the average of six “comparable states.” Read More.


Federal Freeze on Juvenile Justice Grant Hits Crime Prevention Efforts

August 7, 2015, More than $1.5 million in funds are on hold as the U.S. Department of Justice tries to determine if Wisconsin has improved its oversight of juveniles behind bars. As a result, several efforts to reduce crime and violence among kids are running out of money or haven’t gotten off the ground. Wisconsin is one of several states and territories accused of improperly receiving the funds, but the only one to have its grants frozen. Read More.


Closing of Baltimore Detention Center Marks a Milestone

July 31, 2015, Annapolis, MD, An announcement by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan that he is closing the Baltimore City Detention Center marked a milestone in long-standing problems with the state’s dangerously decrepit correctional facilities. Read More.


Maryland Increases High School Drop-Out Age To 17

July 30, 2015, Maryland, The age of when a student is allowed to drop out of high school in Maryland, has increased. The new Age of Compulsory School Attendance law, Senate Bill 362 that was signed into law in 2012, has now raised the compulsory school attendance age to 17. This means that students under the age of 17, cannot drop out of school. In 2017, the age will be raised again, to 18. Read More.


Meant To Keep Youths Out of Detention, Probation Often Leads Them There

July 29, 2015, Juvenile justice reformers have tried for years to figure out what works to help rehabilitate youth in trouble, and a recent shift away from locking kids up has been at the forefront of reform efforts. One of the most common alternatives to incarceration is to order kids directly into probation, instead of juvenile hall. Read More.


Governor Tomblin Launches Statewide Truancy Initiative, Effort Part of Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform Legislation

July 25, 2015, Charleston, WV, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the launch of the Truancy Diversion Initiative, part of the governor’s comprehensive juvenile justice reform in West Virginia. The governor introduced the proposal as part of his 2015 State of the State address in January and signed Senate Bill 393 into law April 2, 2015. Read More.


Community Conferencing Gets Increased Program Funding

July 17, 2015, Easton, MD, Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Community Conferencing program recently earned increased funding for the new fiscal year, thanks to its success in keeping young offenders out of the juvenile justice system. Read More.


Congress, Obama Tackle Unequal Treatment of Minors in the Juvenile Justice System

July 16, 2015, Harsh and unequal treatment of minors in the juvenile justice system has come under scrutiny during a congressional hearing on incarceration in AmericaThe hearing on Wednesday before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took place as bipartisan momentum builds to negotiate sentencing reforms and other measures aimed at creating a fairer, smarter, more cost-effective criminal-justice system. The session took place a day after President Barack Obama delivered a speech encouraging Congress to pursue reforms rolling back mass incarceration for low-level offenses. The president also urged changes to address a so-called school-to-prison pipeline affecting mostly lower-income and struggling communities.  Read More.


Juvenile Justice Clinic Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Leadership Changes and New Initiatives

June 8, 2015, Washington, DC, Just a few years after the Supreme Court extended the right to counsel and procedural due process to children in its landmark case In re Gault, Georgetown University Law Center created one of the first law school-based clinics specializing in children’s issues.  Now, 40 years later, the Juvenile Justice Clinic is marking its anniversary with leadership changes and new initiatives. Read More.


 Juvenile Justice Clinic Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Leadership Changes and New Initiatives

jjc 40thJune 8, 2015, Washington, DC, Just a few years after the Supreme Court extended the right to counsel and procedural due process to children in its landmark case In re Gault, Georgetown University Law Center created one of the first law school-based clinics specializing in children’s issues.  Now, 40 years later, the Juvenile Justice Clinic is marking its anniversary with leadership changes and new initiatives. Read More.

 

 


WV Lawmakers Look to Reduce Jail Costs, Crowding

February 6, 2015, Charleston, WV, For a state grappling with overcrowded jails and shrinking revenues, finding ways to keep young people on the “straight and narrow” has never been more important. A growing chorus of voices in West Virginia and across the nation suggests the best way to do that is, whenever possible, to use community-based services and programs to rehabilitate rather than institutionalize. Read More.


Governor’s Juvenile Justice Proposals Are Focused on Early Intervention

February 2, 2015, Charleston, WV,  Earlier interventions and more community-based programming are key parts of the legislative package for juvenile justice reforms in West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is proposing at the State House. Read More.


Md. Reforms Juvenile Probation with “Graduated Responses” Tool

January 12, 2015, Annapolis, MD, For a youth on probation in Maryland, a minor fault could mean a trip back through the complex juvenile justice system, sometimes resulting in incarceration, and often causing major setbacks to the youth’s rehabilitation. Read More.


West Virginia Task Force Suggests Juvenile Justice Changes

December 11, 2014, Charleston, WV, A West Virginia panel is suggesting several changes to keep youthful offenders out of detention centers. The West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice released its recommendations Thursday. Read More.


Holder, Duncan Outline Educational Rights for Juvenile Offenders

December 8, 2014, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a set of guidelines Monday morning aimed at improving education for young people in the nation’s juvenile justice centers, where studies have shown that schooling can be inadequate or inferior to what they would receive in a standard classroom. Read More.


Leaders in Virginia to Promote Clayton County’s System of Care

October 14, 2014, Richmond, VA, School and juvenile justice leaders participated in a town hall meeting in Virginia this week to promote the System of Care used in Clayton County. Judge Teske said the Clayton group is helping leaders in Richmond develop a school justice agreement and build their own System of Care. Read More.


As US Juvenile Justice Improves, West Virginia Still Funnels Kids from Schools to Prisons

October 11, 2014, West Virginia, While the US has cut its juvenile incarceration rate by half, West Virginia’s rate is 42 percent higher than the rest of the country. The Mountain State has also seen the largest increase in youth incarceration since 2001. Read More. 


No Country for Young Men

October 8. 2014, West Virginia, On Feb. 27, 2013, 17-year-old Junior Smith was summoned to the front office of his Philippi, West Virginia, high school. It was eighth period, just a few minutes before everyone would start streaming out of the building for dismissal. When Junior got to the office, a police officer was there, waiting for him. The officer handcuffed Junior and led him past his staring classmates to a waiting patrol car. The officer then drove Junior to the Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center, a maximum-security facility 100 miles away. Junior was charged with misdemeanor battery and violation of a prior court order. Read More. 


Provide Treatment, Not More Juvenile Prisons

October 2, 2014, Maryland, Maryland should invest in community-based treatment for juvenile delinquents instead of spending $225 million to build three juvenile prisons and replace buildings at a fourth, a state juvenile justice advisory panel urged. Read More. 


Teen To Be Tried as Juvenile in Fatal Shooting of 24-year-old half-brother

September 30, 2014, Pound, Virginia, A 15-year-old charged in the shooting death of his 24-year-old half-brother Monday will be tried as a juvenile, the Wise County commonwealth’s attorney said Tuesday. Read More.


Treating Md’s Juvenile Delinquents At Home More Effective, Less Costly Than Jails, Advocates Say

September 25, 2014, Maryland, The $225 million set aside to build three new jails for juvenile delinquents and improvements to a fourth in Maryland should be spent on community-based treatment instead, a state review panel found. Putting more money into juvenile jails would lead to less effective treatments, according to a report by the Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit. The unit tracks the needs of children under the Department of Juvenile Services and produces quarterly reports on the conditions of the department’s facilities. Read More.


Juvenile Justice Commission’s Work Visionary, Important

September 11, 2014, Charleston, West Virginia, In my past years as Chief Justice I have promoted judicial truancy programs, civic education, and elder law issues. Justice Brent D. Benjamin pursued the expansion of drug courts and established the Access to Justice Commission and the Lawyer Assistance Program. In her most recent year as Chief, Justice Margaret L. Workman focused on juvenile justice and established the Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission. It is about that work I would like to report to you now. Read More.


Comprehensive Review of West Virginia’s Juvenile Justice

August 15, 2014, West Virginia, A comprehensive review of West Virginia’s juvenile justice system kicked off Aug. 15, with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joining members of the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice and representatives from Pew Charitable Trusts. Read More.