kids jailed for crimes that don't exist at staggering rates

when children are landing in jail for the same crimes adults are rarely charged for, your Friday long read from ProPublica

We go to ProPublica for this week's long read by Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, read the whole article “​​Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.” We include key excerpts below to convince you it’s worth your time!

The kids aren’t alright

Instead of going to Hobgood, Templeton had spent the afternoon gathering the petitions, then heading to the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center, a two-tiered jail for children with dozens of surveillance cameras, 48 cells and 64 beds. There, she waited for the kids to be brought to her.

In Rutherford County, a juvenile court judge had been directing police on what she called “our process” for arresting children, and she appointed the jailer, who employed a “filter system” to determine which children to hold.

The judge was proud of what she had helped build, despite some alarming numbers buried in state reports.

Among cases referred to juvenile court, the statewide average for how often children were locked up was 5%.

In Rutherford County, it was 48%.

Underscored

After years of treatment, her doctors decided in 2012 that she was stable enough to return to Los Angeles. She was put on “forensic conditional release,” more commonly known as CONREP: a statewide outpatient program that primarily supervises and treats people leaving psychiatric hospitals who landed there because of serious criminal charges.

Most people in the program, like Moore, were found not guilty by reason of insanity, often for violent crimes, but after years of hospitalization, were ready for mental health care in the community.

CONREP, which oversees roughly 650 Californians, is meant to help patients transition from institutions to independence, while also trying to prevent violent relapses. But according to a Marshall Project investigation, many patients, family members, former employees and attorneys say the system can trap people for decades in a legal limbo, one that dictates where former patients live, whether they work, and whom they see.

Bottom line

For Moore, this year finally brought freedom. The judge in her case made the unusual decision to take her off CONREP before she was fully “restored to sanity.” She was allowed to move out of the nursing home and into an apartment her sister Janell set up for her — her first time living on her own in 20 years. Moore decorated the walls with paintings she did while locked down at the nursing home and photos of her kids and grandkids.

“In the mental health system, you literally don’t have an end date,” said Janell, ticking through the many funerals, birthdays, and other milestones her sister had missed. “There is no counting down.”

Moore now receives therapy through a community mental health organization, and she has set up a bank account, gotten a driver’s license, enrolled in community college, and started babysitting her 1-year-old grandson. “I accomplished a lot they said I could not do on my own,” she said.

Read the whole article here.


Resources: State policy changesNewsBureau of Prisons updatesState court changesPrison holistic self care and protection. Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook.

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