The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has launched a pilot program in Camden County aimed at keeping young offenders in the community, held a two-day conference in Newark on New Jersey’s juvenile justice system. Nate Balis, head of the foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, said too many juveniles are “waived up” for adult trials and prison sentences.
Experts said the system is also racially biased with blacks and Latinos making up 87 percent of those prosecuted as adults. Balis said that treating teenagers, even those who appear to be violent, as adults is an approach that has proved to be a “dead end” with those sent to adult prison having outcomes worse than those who remain in the community or in juvenile facilities.
New Jersey officials agreed. Kevin Brown, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Commission, said the state needs to invest in juvenile offenders “despite their lawlessness.”
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