Justice

Justice

see ming lee / flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two opinions today that, in a practical matter, mean more to low-income families than to anyone else.

There is the Affordable Care Act decision, which protects health insurance coverage of those people who need government subsidies to afford the cost of health care on the exchanges.

aapo haapanen

By now, many of you know about the tragic story out of the Bronx this weekend. 

Kalief Browder was sent to Rikers Island in 2010 when he was 16 years old. He never had a trial or a criminal conviction (the original accusation was that he took a backpack), but he was forced to stay there for three years anyway. Browder struggled after his release, and on Saturday he took his own life.

Kevin Dooley / flickr

Michigan has been scolding  "you're going to pay for that!" to young offenders across the state for close to two decades. 

This punishment comes in forms traditional to criminal justice: juvenile detention, jail for those 17 and older, probation, parole. Increasingly though, it also means that young offenders must literally find the money to pay a host of costs to courts and sheriff's departments across the state. 

David Trawin

The city of Ferguson, Mo., and another nearby town, Jennings, Mo., are the target of a new civil rights lawsuit aimed at what has been called modern day "debtors prison."

The lawsuit alleges citizens in Ferguson are routinely jailed because they can't pay fines associated with a wide range of minor infractions like unpaid parking tickets.  

Ingham County

As we were prepping for our special on juvenile justice, we had a chat with one of our guests, Scott Leroy from Ingham County's juvenile justice programs. We wanted to know  how the Lansing area ended up with some pretty innovative programs for kids who get in trouble with the law. 

State of Opportunity special: juvenile justice in Michigan

Jan 15, 2015

Today we brought you a special, hour-long call-in show on Michigan’s juvenile justice system.

Host Jennifer White was joined by guests Frank Vandervort from the University of Michigan Law School, Scott Leroy from Ingham County courts, educator and activist Shaka Senghor (his TED talk is below), and Marie Williams from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ). The show explored the consequences of incarcerating kids in adult prisons, discussed alternative options for juvenile offenders, and asked what is the future of juvenile justice in Michigan.

Paula Laquerre

It makes sense that young people who have been abused or neglected would be more likely to get in serious trouble. But the numbers are nonetheless pretty amazing. Almost half of the minors in the state's adult prison system get there from the child welfare system, and a child with a history of abuse and neglect is 55 percent more likely to be arrested. 

Hoodwatch / flickr

This Thursday at 3:00 p.m. we'll have a special show taking a focused look at juvenile justice in the state. 

publik16 / flickr

In 1978, a group of teenagers in Wayne County beat, stabbed, and killed another young person named Dennis Rhodes in order to steal his bike. 

One of those young people, Jeffrey Dunbar, was tried and sentenced as an adult. Dunbar was sentenced to life without parole. 

This decision is only one year younger than I am. It seems utterly unremarkable in its treatment of a juvenile as an adult.

flickr/the_justified_sinner

There were four children, brought to the U.S. under falsified records. They came to live with a man in Ypsilanti. He said he brought them to the U.S. to give them an education, and improve their lives. The children said the man beat them regularly. He beat them with whatever he could get his hands on: a broomstick, a toilet plunger, an ice scraper, even a phone charger. They were beaten and deprived of sleep whenever they failed to do their "chores."

The Detroit Free Press carried the story of how federal prosecutors tried to get the man put in prison on charges of "forced labor" – basically, modern slavery. And of how his conviction on that charge was overturned. Forcing a child to do "chores," and even beating them when they failed to do so, isn't enslavement, the federal appeals court decided. It's just plain child abuse. 

Today, the man, Jean-Claude Toviave, was charged with child abuse, this time in state court, rather than federal court. 

The four children may yet see justice served against the man who allegedly brought them to the U.S. to a life of torture and abuse. But the case highlights the flaws in a justice system still struggling to keep up with the heinous and often hidden crimes associated with human trafficking. 

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