Juvenile Justice

MCU's Dietra Wise Baker talks during a workshop on the problems in the juvenile justice system in Missouri on Saturday, May 14, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Metropolitan Congregations United is calling for police, school and juvenile court reform in St. Louis to reduce the disproportionate number of black children suspended from school and placed in juvenile detention. 

The social justice advocacy group held workshops Saturday as part of a campaign to break what’s called the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

The Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee is weighing a series of new bills that aim for criminal justice reform. One would increase educational and job opportunities for inmates.

Elizabeth Herring leads the girls in St. Louis' Juvenile Dention Center through the five ballet positions.
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

What does a dancer and former debutante born in 1926 have in common with teenagers at St. Louis’ juvenile detention center?

A lot, as it turns out, according to Elizabeth “Bunny” Herring.

Herring, 89, sees striking similarities between herself and the young women in the ballet classes she teaches inside the locked facility, as part of the Prison Performing Arts (PPA) program.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

This July 31, the U.S. Department of Justice released the findings of a 20-month investigation into the St. Louis County Family Court that sent a jolt through the system.

"The investigation found that the court fails to provide constitutionally required due process to children appearing for delinquency proceedings, and that the court’s administration of juvenile justice discriminates against black children, all in violation of the 14th Amendment," assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a conference call.

Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
YouTube | Fair Housing conference

Updated 4:30 p.m. with comments from Civil Rights Division and react - A 20-month investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found the St. Louis County Family Court violates the constitutional rights of children in its custody.

The Rev. Dietra Wise Baker
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

First of a two-part series.

Prison chaplains wear hope on their sleeves. Many talk about ex-prisoners who transform their lives in prison and, after release, become contributing citizens and good parents.

One of the chaplains, the Rev. Dietra Wise Baker said that most judges and others who work in the justice and corrections systems are “loving,” but the system is flawed.

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Updated at 1:15 p.m. with further comment from the ACLU.

Updated at 12:05 p.m. with quotes from court administrator Paul Fox.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether the St. Louis County family court is treating all of the children who appear in front of its judges equally.

The department's Civil Rights Division is specifically looking at whether the court is providing due process to children involved in delinquency proceedings, and if all children are treated equally regardless of race.

(via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

Illinois lawmakers are considering a change that would keep more teenagers out of adult court. The measure, which so far has had bipartisan support, would send 17-year-olds charged with non-violent felonies into the juvenile court system.

Since 2010, 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors have been sent to juvenile court, while those charged with felonies are sent to adult court.