One activist feels that there is something very wrong about a system increasing the criminalization of our nation’s youth. He feels that the juvenile justice system is “screwed up” and badly needs solutions. He has since published his photos documenting what he has seen. Some of these photos were taken at San Leandro’s Alameda County Juvenile Detention Center.
This photographer was not alone in his criticism of the system. One California criminal attorney claimed incarceration for juveniles has been ineffective. While the system punishes the youth, it then sends many of them back to broken homes. The youth then often end up back in gangs.
Sadly, many such youth were incarcerated for relatively minor crimes. The photographer mentioned above has taken pictures of juveniles that were in fifth grade. He feels that what is needed is for the community to step up and provide services that will help these juveniles out. This includes some sort of aftercare program that will shield them from the influences that placed them in incarceration to begin with.
In California, juvenile criminal matters are handled by a judge rather than a jury. Trying such cases can require experience and knowledge on the part of the attorney as to how the system operates. When a juvenile is tried as an adult, the stakes can be even higher.
Probably nobody is so badly in need of an experienced attorney than are juveniles charged with a crime. Attorneys can help these young people find resources within the juvenile court system that may provide meaningful assistance.
Source: Contra Costa Times, “Professor: No justice for juvenile suspects, and the system needs changes,” Lou Fancher, Jan. 31, 2014