Justice

Justice

April DeBoer, left, and Jayne Rowse with their three children.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, a federal court will hear arguments in the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder. The case challenges the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, and the ability of same-sex couples to adopt children together. 

No matter how it turns out, the case for and against gay marriage will probably run along a well-trodden path.

Mindsey Mohan / flickr

The Michigan Senate will vote on Senate Bill 319 any day now.

Under the bill, which is expected to pass, about 350 juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole will not have a chance at parole.

mattaz / flickr

In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.  That doesn't mean it's impossible for a young offender to get a life sentence, it's just not automatic.

Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

The school-to-prison pipeline is a nationwide pattern of students being pushed out of schools and into the criminal justice system.

Groups like the ACLU argue young people, especially African Americans, are suspended and expelled from school at disproportionate rates, and research suggests that once they’re expelled, those students are more likely to end up in prison.

Now, a group of people most affected by the school-to-prison pipeline are working to end it.  


We hear about the need for "wrap around services" for small children, but what about young adults who just need one more chance? Our publishing partner, Southwest Michigan's Second Wave, has an article this week about a successful Kalamazoo-based youth diversion pilot project. Working in conjunction with the juvenile justice system, a local spoken word program, Kinetic Affect, is piloting a program that they hope will be replicated in other communities. As Kirk Latimer, one of the program's founders told Second Wave, "The judge isn’t ready to give up on them and neither are we."

Adopted children, largely from international adoptions, are being put into harm's way by adoptive parents often at their wits end. As Megan Towhey of Reuters finds, there are many internet-based forums where adoptive parents can advertise children they no longer want, and other people who want the children offer to take the children.

In the slew of recent Supreme Court decisions there are people feeling like winners (LGBT married couples perhaps) and losers (voting rights and workplace discrimination advocates among them). American Indian tribes also had a decision come down in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl that could profoundly affect Indian children and families.  

It's hard to decide how to process the recent spate of kids-going-to-jail-for-doing-things-kids-do stories.

Over the past week or so, outrage has swelled over the story of one 18-year-old being prosecuted for having sexual relations with a 14-year-old who went to her high school (they're both girls, so there's concern that what's being prosecuted is sexual orientation).

clothing in rubble
As It Happens / CBC

Next week Thursday at 3pm, and again at 10pm, State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra presents a special hour-long documentary on race, education, and opportunity in Michigan.

While some might say we're "burned out" with talk about race and racism, it remains a timely topic in so many ways. Before we bring it home with Jen's doc on race and Michigan kids, just a wide-ranging look at how race appears in the media last two weeks:

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law is designed to make sure Native American children in the child welfare system stay connected with their tribes.  

Why?  Because for decades, American Indian families all over the country, including in Michigan, were wrenched apart by private and state child welfare workers.

Often with little reason, these workers removed Indian children from their families and tribes and tried to assimilate them into white and usually Christian culture. As barbaric as that might sound, it is not ancient history. 

Judge Alli Greenleaf Maldonado's mother was taken away from her family after her mother, Maldonado's grandmother, died.  She could have been placed with any number of relatives," Maldonado says. "But instead, she was sent to another state to be a domestic worker for a Mennonite minister and his wife."

Maldonado's mother was only four years old when she started working as a maid. Maldonado says it was common practice for young girls to be sent to be domestic workers,  while boys were sent to be farm hands in an attempt to give the children job skills. 

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