California Judges Concerned About Quick Pace of Governor’s Plan to Close Youth Prisons

Friday is the deadline for California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature to reach a deal on how to close the state’s youth prison system. Photo courtesy of Calamari Productions
As a Friday deadline looms to decide whether California should shut down its long-notorious youth prison system next year, some fear that without safeguards, hundreds of juvenile offenders will be sent to the adult criminal system, where they face longer sentences, more violence and poorer prospects.


Child Welfare Professionals Must Embrace a Culture of Scrutiny

Last week, NBC ran a troubling story involving Wisconsin doctor John Cox, who lost custody of his daughter after he accidentally fell asleep on top of her. He feared he broke her collarbone so he immediately called his wife, also a doctor.


Let’s Be Honest: “Best Interest” Is in the Eye of the Beholder

A few weeks ago on a phone call discussing how systems can support keeping kids safely with their families, a judge abruptly interjected, “I don’t like this focus on the rights of parents.


Child Welfare is a System in Need of Umpires

A few weeks ago, a retired judge shared with me how he’d reform juvenile court. He remarked, “I’d tell judges they shouldn’t be umpires. They need to do more than call balls and strikes.


Hearings: More Money for Legal Counsel Won’t Fix Broken Court Processes

A recent policy change at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now allows for child welfare systems to draw federal funds to help pay for the legal counsel of all children and birth parents involved in the child welfare systems.


Your Crisis Can Wait Until Noon

The teenage boy stared at the judge, with a face struggling to hide its emotion but clearly displaying sadness. For weeks, he had been staying at a residential foster care facility and had been getting in trouble.


    Hearings: What’s Happening in Brooklyn Child Welfare Court? These Days, It’s Domestic Violence Cases

    One of the busiest family courts in the nation occupies a hulking 32-story administrative tower in downtown Brooklyn. On a recent Thursday, I visited to observe the child abuse and neglect hearings on the eighth floor.

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    The Chicago Judge Who Held Child Welfare Directors In Contempt Dozens of Times

    Last week, Chronicle of Social Change reporter Michael Fitzgerald reported on a tragic case out of New York City where a disabled teen was kept in an emergency shelter – with ill-fitting clothes and a broken wheelchair – for more than a year, even though a family friend had stepped up to take care of him.

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    Lessons for Advocates from Youth First Poll on Juvenile Justice

    Last week, we mentioned a new poll on Americans’ attitudes about juvenile justice, released by the Youth First Initiative as part of its official grand opening of sorts. We called it a “great resource for reform-minded juvenile justice advocates,” and that is true.