Subscribe to our newsletters for regular updates, analysis and context straight to your email.
Support a worker-led Appeal. donate today.
First in a three-part series on a teenager with a tumultuous childhood sent to die in prison, and where his life would lead. The following narrative was compiled from interviews and court records.
Sylvia A. Harvey
Tara Francis Chan
An upcoming court ruling could decide the fate of a plan to detain “problematic youth” at a facility that previously housed prisoners awaiting execution.
Justices in the state’s highest court are weighing whether it is unconstitutional to sentence people convicted of murder and aged 18 to 20 to life without parole.
Art Acevedo’s recent comments reveal an official who, despite his “good cop” veneer, has played fast and loose with the facts when it comes to addressing public safety.
Several states, including Maryland, are considering bills to protect minors from abusive police interrogations.
At 15, Kenneth Lamont Robinson was convicted for murder under South Carolina’s accomplice liability law, despite not committing the shooting that killed Kedena Brown.
The D.C. Council is set to vote on a bill aimed at giving people who committed serious crimes before their 25th birthday an opportunity to petition a judge for resentencing.
A new study suggests that if counties—rather than states—bear the cost of incarceration, they may be less likely to incarcerate people.
A coalition of organizations is hoping Michael Toomin, who is also unwilling to implement diversion programs, loses his retention election.
We should demand that prison officials and our elected representatives honor their constitutional obligation to promote and support youth healing, growth, and change.
Experts say Black and Native children are disproportionately jailed either for status offenses or for technical violations of probation or parole—and that incarcerating them has far-reaching negative consequences.
Dawn R. Wolfe
Judge Mary Ellen Brennan jailed the 15-year-old, known as Grace, for violating her probation by not completing schoolwork. Last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered Grace’s immediate release, which Brennan said left her without the means to ‘issue consequences.’
The Michigan Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release pending an appeal of a circuit court judge’s decision to jail the teen, known as “Grace,” in mid-May.
Sixteen-year-old William Haymon has spent more than 500 days in an adult jail in rural Lexington, Mississippi. There are no state rules governing how long a person can be incarcerated without being formally charged with a crime.
Judge Mary Ellen Brennan sent the 15-year-old, known as Grace, to juvenile detention in May for violating her probation by not completing online schoolwork. On Monday, the judge said Grace was ‘blooming’ in the facility, despite arguments by Grace that she is falling behind.
State law requires all murder charges be automatically filed in adult court, regardless of age.
While adults in the county have been granted expedited release in groups, the juvenile court continues to review cases individually.
Tens of thousands of children are in congregate care settings around the country, and some have already started to get sick.
‘Continuing to maintain these youths in this hotbed of contagion poses an unconscionable and entirely preventable risk of harm,’ one lawsuit states.
The state’s attorney general decided to support resentencing hearings in two high-profile cases, though she had fought appeals in the past.
In a lawsuit, the boy’s family said he was repeatedly suspended, secluded, and violently restrained before he was ever given a special education evaluation.
District Attorney Michael O’Malley’s 2016 election was viewed by some as a win for Black Lives Matter, but the number of children transferred to adult court in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, has increased more than 100 percent.
Christopher Lay grew up under the influence of a father who was mentally ill. Drawn into a crime at age 19, he’s now seeking a second chance that could help other young adults demand the same.
The Washington State Patrol has added thousands of old sealed juvenile records to a database it shares with law enforcement agencies across the country—erasing for many their chance of a clean slate.
Young people convicted as adults face a ‘life sentence’ of registry restrictions, attorneys say.
A Pittsburgh public radio piece lacked critical reporting about the many problems with jailing children in adult facilities.
Adam H. Johnson
California is one of only six states that allow staff in juvenile facilities to carry pepper spray. But LA’s coming ban is still facing pushback.
16-year-olds won’t have to reappear in adult criminal court if they’re arrested when youth court isn’t in session.
Despite supporting Oregon’s new juvenile justice law, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is still fighting to keep people in prison who received life sentences as minors.
The decline under DA Larry Krasner, who took office in 2018, marks a significant change in juvenile justice in Pennsylvania.
At 16, Larry Rosser was imprisoned for killing a woman who sexually and physically abused him. He served 22 years in the California prison system before being released in 2017, after parole commissioners became convinced he was a rehabilitated victim.
A 10-year-old was charged with assault for throwing a ball at a classmate. The case was dropped, but its effect is still felt.
Richard Kinder thought he would die in an Alabama prison until the Supreme Court ruled mandatory juvenile life without parole unconstitutional. But last year, despite a judge concluding there was “uncontradicted evidence” that Kinder had worked to rehabilitate himself, the state parole board refused him release.
In rhetoric reminiscent of the ‘superpredator‘ scare of the 1990s, the New Orleans District Attorney warned of ‘a brazen population of delinquent teens.‘ But advocates and crime analysts alike say the data doesn't support his fearmongering claims about kids and crime.
Critics say that Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos, who is being challenged in a June primary, has a pattern of treating children too harshly.
The Orleans district attorney has said that violent youth are the city’s biggest crime problem.
Cook County has a new contract for juvenile ankle monitors that critics say are an invasion of privacy.
Washington detains more children for status offenses such as truancy and running away than any other state in the country. State lawmakers want to change that.
In 1996, Michele Benjamin was sentenced to life without parole for killing a man who she said solicited her for sex and menaced her with a weapon in New Orleans. A Supreme Court decision led her to be re-sentenced to life with a chance at parole in 2016. Today, a parole hearing brings the possibility of freedom.
Josie Duffy Rice
The Department of Justice is leaving Shelby County, but discrimination against Black children in court continues, a federal monitor says.
Josie and Clint interview Abd’Allah Lateef, Pennsylvania Coordinator for the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network.
Josie Duffy Rice,
Trump didn’t start it, but we can end it.
Under Raise the Age, ‘there are kids similarly situated who are being treated totally differently.’
In 2016 and 2017, more than 80 percent of children charged as adults by the Allegheny County district attorney were Black.
A petition argues that people seeking to escape the sex offender registry, including those put on it as children, deserve more than a single shot.
Recent Supreme Court rulings have led to a review of life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed at age 17 and younger, but attorneys for Avis Lee say there’s no reason to stop there.
The rocky implementation of New York’s Raise the Age law shows that young people in detention need love, not force.
Two teenagers are facing life without parole sentences for capital murder, though it’s not clear they pulled the trigger.
A man sentenced to die in prison is inciting debate over ‘felony murder’ rules in Colorado.
Katie Rose Quandt
Rep. John Becker doubles down on his recent comments about the tasing of an 11-year-old for allegedly shoplifting.
Melissa Gira Grant
Before Edgar Coker was exonerated in a rape case, he underwent therapy meant to prevent sexual reoffenses. Thousands of kids involved in sexual offenses are forced into therapies like “relapse prevention” that experts say are ineffective.
Joseph Darius Jaafari
Legislation passed in Massachusetts and pending in California would set a minimum age for children to enter the juvenile justice system.
A new lawsuit says Riverside County’s probation officers threaten to prosecute kids for ‘pre-delinquent’ behavior.
With journalist Victoria Law.
Years after two landmark Supreme Court rulings, prosecutors in Louisiana are still overwhelmingly seeking life sentences for children.
At a Pennsylvania school, an 18-year-old female student was arrested for a consensual sexual act with a 16-year-old boy.
Anquan Boldin, DeAndre Levy, Tobias Harris, Anthony Tolliver, Stan Van Gundy
In Justice Today
Once again, police are vilifying kids.
State law makes it easier to throw Brown away than consider traumas youth face and offer them hope of rehabilitation.
Demetria D. Frank
Glenn E. Martin
Memphis critic says Juvenile Court Judge’s resistance to reforms has ‘emasculated’ Department of Justice
Wendi C. Thomas
The decision was unanimous.
A district attorney wants to solve crime by breaking up families.
“You look like a cold-blooded monster.”