Last week, the Kansas State Senate passed a bill to revamp its juvenile justice system. The state has one of the highest rates of youth incarceration in the nation. Pushed by local juvenile justice reformers, the bill would close juvenile offender group homes, standardize the sentencing of juveniles, and provide $2 million for alternatives to detention such as therapeutic counseling.The move came after an executive order issued by President Obama on Jan. 25, which bans the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. That same day, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling affecting mandatory life sentences for inmates convicted as juveniles. While both are limited in scope—there are only 26 juveniles in federal prison, for example—advocates are hopeful for the future.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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