juvenile justice

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An average of five Texas juveniles a week were certified to be tried as adults in court from 1995 to 2015, according to data from a recent Texas Standard article. One of these kids was Miguel Navarro. At the age of 16 he was tried as an adult, found guilty of murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison. 

From Texas Standard:

Miguel Navarro is 5’ 3’’ and small-framed. When reporters Alain Stephens and Hannah McBride speak to him, he’s in handcuffs and ankle restraints. He’s nervous and sweaty. His brown eyes well up with tears when they ask him about that night.

Paul Flahive

$800 million in juvenile justice funding is before congress, and the DC gridlock is threatening to hold it up. The Juvenile Justice Prevention and Delinquency Act has been around for 40 years, enjoys widespread bi-partisan support and orients the nation's juvenile justice workers. 

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

In stark contrast to former Gov. Rick Perry, the current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the state would comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

In a letter to Lynch earlier this month, Abbott stated that Texas would “fully implement” the standards as much as possible. In the letter of May 15, Abbott wrote: “The State of Texas has taken significant steps to eliminate prison rape. I cannot yet certify that the State is in full compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) because our PREA audits are still ongoing. But every facility that has completed the PREA audit process has been certified as fully compliant. And I can assure you that we will fully implement DOJ’s PREA standards wherever feasible.”

The PREA requires segregating younger inmates from those who are over 18. Perry refused to comply, basically because 17-year-old criminal offenders in Texas are classified as adults. Federal law requires 17-year-olds to be housed separately from those 18 or older.

Ryan E. Poppe

After some heated debate and some changes, a bill that reforms how school districts can respond to children repeatedly missing class passed in the Texas Senate. 

At the start of the session during his State of Judiciary address, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht told lawmakers that reforming truancy laws was one of the most important issues facing them this session.  And the bill’s author, Houston Democratic Sen. John Whitmire tends to agree.

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