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IN BRIEF

“We fear that unless U.S. authorities stop detaining children, Jakelin will not be the last child to die in government custody.”
Members of Congress and attorneys for the family of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died in border patrol custody, are calling for an independent investigation into the circumstances of her death. Customs and Border Protection waited five days to report Jakelin’s death, despite laws requiring that “deaths of immigrants who are being detained by the United States government be reported to Congress by the Department of Homeland Security within 24 hours.”

Members of Congress visited the border patrol facilities where Jakelin and her father were detained and said the conditions there “jeopardized the health of immigrants and CBP agents and officers.” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley called the temporary detention facility in Tornillo, Texas, “a child prison camp.

Jakelin is not the only immigrant who has died in U.S. custody. An eight-year-old boy died in custody on December 25; 19-month-old Mariee Juarez passed away after 20 days in a detention facility in Texas in August; and lawmakers are still pressing for information on the death of Roxsana Hernandez.

“Caging kids is an American tradition.”
Juveniles for Justice and the Juvenile Law Center released the new publication, “Broken Bridges: How Juvenile Placements Cut Off Youth from Communities and Successful Futures.” The report features insights and recommendations from formerly incarcerated youth regarding the harmful practices of the juvenile justice system. The report details how the separation of youth from their families and communities has a detrimental impact on youth development.

Report contributors also emphasized the impact of strip searches, physical restraint, physical abuse, solitary confinement and extended isolation, and barriers to education within the juvenile justice system.

After sixteen years, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was reauthorized in December. For more than four decades, the JJDPA has provided critical protections for young people involved in the juvenile justice system, including the core requirements to address racial and ethnic disparities and the deinstitutionalization of status offenses. Girls disproportionately end up in residential facilities due to status offenses and technical violations.

Unfortunately the reauthorized act still includes the Valid Court Order exemption, allowing youth to continue to be incarcerated for nonviolent status offenses. The JJDPA reauthorization also requires states to create plans to eliminate the shackling of detained or incarcerated pregnant youth.

Los Angeles County is developing a strategy to stop detaining and incarcerating pregnant youth, and to ensure pregnant youth who are currently locked up have access to necessary supports and services. New Orleans Juvenile Court judges, who recently stopped charging fees to the families of incarcerated youth, have ended a practice of using bail as a condition of release for youth in pre-trial detention.

“Since 2009, Florida state attorneys have charged more than 15,000 children in adult courts, some as young as 10 years old. Children of color disproportionately bear the weight of that policy.”

Girlhood and Survival 
The six part documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” aired in early January, investigating years of sexual abuse claims against the singer. Girls for Gender Equity created a viewing guide, calling the series “an urgent call to families, communities and all those who touch the lives of young people, as well as to fans and the entertainment industry alike, reminding us all that we must work harder to protect girls and women.” Dr. Monique Morris, who noted that, “age compression routinely makes Black girls vulnerable to sexual / physical violence—and to the erasure of their trauma,” connected the series to her research on the criminalization of black girls in schools.

Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency by outgoing Tennessee governor Bill Haslam. She will be released from incarceration in August after spending fifteen years in jail for defending herself from abuse – but will be on parole for ten years.

A study conducted by Wenhua Lu finds that girls “may be at greatest risk of depression among adolescents ages 12 to 17 nationwide” and a growing portion of teenagers who suffer from depression are not being treated. Her results echo findings from a Blue Cross Blue Shield report earlier this year, which found a 63% increase in the rate of diagnosis of major depression among girls between the ages of 12-17 from 2013 to 2016.

Tashira Halyard and OnRaé LaTeal are using handgames as a tool for socioemotional learning and community for black girls: “Hand games enliven innocence and disrupt all these myths around black girlhood.”

School Safety
The Trump administration is planning to rescind school discipline guidanceissued under the Obama administration that addressed the disproportionate discipline of students of color. The Federal School Safety Commission, commissioned by Trump and led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, recommended rescinding the “Rethinking Discipline” policy in its report on improving school safety in the wake of the Parkland shootings.

The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition Steering Committee members said rescinding the guidance would “will only serve to make schools less safe and harm student achievement.” The Communities for Just Schools Fund responded with their own report, “Do the Harder Work— Create Cultures of Connectedness in Schools: A Youth and Parent Organizer Response to the Federal Commission on School Safety.” CJSF’s report, based on listening sessions with young people and caregiver organizers, includes the recommendation to “use gender and reproductive justice frameworks to fully support girls of color.” The ACLU reminded that there are 10 million students in schools with cops but no social workers.

Girls in D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8 do not have equitable access to safe, challenging, and supportive learning environments, according to a new report released by Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. The report, Declare Equity for Girls, is based on focus groups with more than 70 girls and young women. At the report launch event, a panel of young women shared solutions they’d like to see implemented, including trauma training for teachers, transportation to school, and smaller student to teacher ratios. Their top priority for intervention and change was sexual harassment.

A new Government Accountability Office report reveals that likely more than 30% of students are experiencing food insecurity on college campuses.

Criminalizing Poverty
After being arrested while waiting with her infant at a public benefits office, 23-year-old Jazmine Headley’s public assistance benefits have been restored. She’s been reunited with her son; the ‘peace officers’ involved in her unnecessary and dehumanizing arrest have been fired; and the charges against her have been dropped – but the NYPD officers involved will not be disciplined. “We get the message, loud and clear,” Marcella Howell writes for Ms. Magazine, “that getting assistance comes with a price and the cost could be losing your child and going to jail.”

Health and Safety
A study conducted by Wenhua Lu finds that girls “may be at greatest risk of depression among adolescents ages 12 to 17 nationwide” and a growing portion of teenagers who suffer from depression are not being treated. Her results echo findings from a Blue Cross Blue Shield report earlier this year, which found a 63% increase in the rate of diagnosis of major depression among girls between the ages of 12-17 from 2013 to 2016.

Shutdown
The federal government shutdown has created economic insecurity for federal workers, their families, and residents around the country. Federal food assistance benefits could be at risk as early as February. A brief by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns that “if the shutdown continues and USDA determines it does not have the authority to extend SNAP in the absence of congressional action, many low-income households would be at risk of serious hunger and hardship.” The Violence Against Women Act expiredwhen the shutdown began, putting programs funded by the act at risk of delayed funded. And the impact of the shutdown is particularly pernicious in Indian County.

OPPORTUNITIES

WATCH

BOOKMARKS

UPCOMING

TAKE NOTE

“Part of my experiences going in and out of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems were related to truancy and for violating my probation by being late to school. What should have happened in my story is that someone should have asked me why I was always late to school or why I felt I had to violate my probation. Instead, no one asked me, and I was sent away.”

Source: Quilah, Broken Bridges: How Juvenile Placements Cut Off Youth from Communities and Successful Futures

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