Youth Justice – Articles & Reports

Today we are sharing some great information about youth justice and some new reports about a successful program in the South Bronx, the predictability of youth  homicide, and interrogations of youth.

Hawai`i took a small step in reforming youth justice in 2014 by reserving prison beds at HYCF for those youth who need to be separated from the community and provided with the services they need to help them reach their fullest potential. We also repealed juvenile life without parole, so adjudicated youth can be eligible for parole.

We need to stop the flow of youth into the adult prison system. Instead of spending $200,000 a year to incarcerate a youthful lawbreaker, we need to spend less and have a more diverse array of effective programming to address the needs of our youth.

Replacing Handcuffs with Community Service
The Crime Report, October 17, 2014

“Diverting youth who have had trouble with the law to adult mentors and pro-social activities in their neighborhoods can help to reduce recidivism, according to a new report from the non-profit Community Connections for Youth.”

Read the full report HERE.


South Bronx Community Corrections Report
An innovative approach to diverting youth from juvenile justice involvement using a positive youth development framework built on the strengths of grassroots faith and neighborhood organizations.


  1. Juvenile Justice Systems should identify pre-existing grassroots faith and neighborhood organizations in overrepresented communities, invest in building their capacity via training and technical assistance, and develop collaborative partnerships in which they share information, resources and power.
  2. Juvenile Justice Systems should form “Learning Communities” with community stakeholders, including directly affected youth and family members, where they come together in a structured, facilitated process to plan programmatic interventions together.
  3. Juvenile Justice Systems should prioritize a strengths-based approach by partnering with grassroots faith and neighborhood organizations that engage youth using the principles of positive youth development.
  4. Juvenile Justice Systems should engage youth and families using “credible messengers” through training and employing formerly incarcerated individuals to serve as Youth Mentors, and training and employing parents who have experienced a child’s involvement in the juvenile justice system as Parent Peer Coaches.
  5. Juvenile Justice Systems should set aside funding for grassroots faith and neighborhood organizations headquartered in neighborhoods with high rates of juvenile arrests, and identify qualified intermediary organizations capable of managing government contracts and distributing subcontracts among smaller grassroots groups.”


Can Homicide Be Predicted?
The Crime Report, October 22, 2014

“A new study aims to dispel some of the myths about what causes a youth to commit murder.

The study, published in the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice examined data from the longitudinal “Pathways to Desistance” study, which followed 1,354 youths charged with serious crimes.”

Read the full study HERE.


The Unpredictability of Murder: Juvenile Homicide in the Pathways to Desistance Study
Matt DeLisi, Alex R. Piquero, Stephanie M. Cardwell, SAGE Journal, October 7, 2014

There is minimal research that has investigated the characteristics distinguishing youth who commit murder to other juvenile offenders. Of the research that has been done, scholars have identified a wide variety of factors that distinguish these offenders, including poor family environments, emotional and social problems, poor mental health, and behavioral disorders. Using data from Pathways to Desistance, a study of 1,354 serious youthful offenders, we examined how 8 demographic characteristics and 35 risk factors distinguish between those youth who were charged with some type of homicide and those youth who were not charged with any type of homicide. We find that only 18 (1.33%) youth were charged with a homicide offense. Among the predictors, age, intelligence quotient (IQ), exposure to violence, perceptions of community disorder, and prevalence of gun carrying are significantly different across the two groups. Results from a rare-events logistic regression that simultaneously examined the relationship between these five risk factors and their ability to distinguish between the two groups indicate that only lower IQ and a greater exposure to violence were significant. Finally, a higher number of risk factors were associated with a higher likelihood that youth would be charged with homicide.


Study: Teens Are Not Well Equipped for Interrogations
The Crime Report, October 15, 2014

“Teenagers often lack the intellectual and emotional capacity to handle police interrogations, according to a study in the journal Law and Human Behavior.

“Researchers examined 57 electronic recordings of juvenile interrogations from 17 police departments. More than one-third (37 percent) of teens between 13 and 17 made full confessions and 31 percent incriminated themselves, according to the study, which was recently featured in The New York Times and other publications.

“Not a single teenager requested an attorney.”

The full study is available for purchase HERE.

Police interviewing and interrogation of juvenile suspects: A descriptive examination of actual cases.
By Cleary, Hayley M. D., Law and Human Behavior, Vol 38(3), Jun 2014, 271-282.

Although empirical attention to police interrogation has gained traction in recent years, comparatively few studies have examined interrogation of juvenile suspects, and virtually none have examined actual interrogations. Despite a growing literature on youths’ interrogation-related capacities, we still know very little about what actually transpires when police question youth. The present study examines electronically recorded police interviews with juveniles to describe the characteristics, processes, and outcomes that occur in actual juvenile interrogations, including interview duration, individuals present, and confessions. Fifty-seven electronic recordings from 17 police departments were analyzed using observational research software. The median juvenile interrogation lasted 46 min, though the range was extensive (6 min to nearly 5 hr). Youth frequently submitted to questioning without a parent or advocate present, and disruptions to the interview process were common. Interrogation outcomes varied and included full confessions, partially incriminating admissions, and denials of guilt. Results from this study provide context for interrogation research using other methods and suggest that youth may frequently consent to interrogation in the absence of important legal protections. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

Remember the case of the Central Park Five? This was 5 young men who were accused of raping a jogger in Central Park in the 1980’s. These men were finally exonerated after spending their best years in prison for something they did not do.

Mahalo for caring about our youth and for believing in redemption.  It takes a village to build strong, vibrant communities where youth are able to realize their dreams. So thank you for being part of our caring community.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s