Juvenile Justice

CLP Current Event: May 14, 2019

How does our treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system reflect our values? This week’s CLP Current Event explores this important issue.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.

News Sources

Editorial: Proposed juvenile-justice reforms in Measure 11 are long overdue (Editorial Agenda 2019), by The Oregonian Editorial Board, The Oregonian, April 29, 2019
“But increasingly, Oregonians are finding that laws imposing harsh penalties are not the solution our communities thought they would be, particularly when it comes to how the state treats juvenile offenders.”

Oregon House Judiciary Committee Hears Passionate Divide On Measure 11 Bill, by Conrad Wilson, OPB, April 26, 2019
“Specifically, it prohibits a life sentence without the possibility of parole if the defendant is under 18 at the time they committed the offense. The Legislature is trying to comply with a series of rulings made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the last decade that said juveniles need to be treated differently in the criminal justice system because their brains are still developing.”

Bill to reform Measure 11 mandatory minimums passes Oregon Senate, by Lindsay Nadrich, KGW, April 18, 2019
“Those in favor said it would give juveniles who commit violent crimes a better chance at rehabilitation and becoming upstanding members of society. Those who oppose it said it goes against what voters overwhelming wanted when Measure 11 was approved and would release violent criminals early.”

Trying youths as adults: Taking aim at Measure 11, by Emily Green, Street Roots, August 31, 2018
“’When they’re in Oregon Youth Authority facilities, they have really robust programs for teaching those young people life skills and really getting them prepared to be able to leave the facility and be successful, healthy members of our society,’ she said. ‘There is a lot of concern about those youth having all of the progress that they’ve made in an Oregon Youth Authority facility undone when they head to Department of Corrections and they spend time there.’”

Questions to Consider

  • What is a juvenile according to Oregon law?
  • Should adolescents be treat differently from adults?
  • What reforms to Oregon’s juvenile justice laws are being suggested?
  • What is Measure 11?
  • Who should have discretion in sentencing?
  • Which approach to juveniles in trouble with the law makes the most sense?
  • What are the reasons to repeal Measure 11? What are the reasons to keep Measure 11?
  • Should juvenile offenders be guaranteed the same constitutional due process rights as adults?
  • Have attitudes changed since Measure 11 was passed in 1994?

Background and More

Developmental Approach to Juvenile Justice Reform, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps

Youth and Measure 11 in Oregon, Oregon Justice Resource Center

Letter to the Editor: Support justice reform for kids, by Sue Borton, The Dalles Chronicle, April 26, 2019

District Attorney: Leave Measure 11 alone, by Alex Paul, Albany Democrat-Herald, April 15, 2019

Oregon’s Measure 11 Sentencing Reform: Implementation and System Impact, by Nancy Merritt, Terry Fain, and Susan Turner, RAND Public Safety and Justice, December, 2003
CLP: Very thorough paper covering the history of criminal sentencing in Oregon, how cases are processed, and statistics of crime rates before and after Measure 11.

Lesson Plans

Juvenile Justice: Then and Now, Colonial Williamsburg
CLP: Middle School

Juvenile Justice Introduction, Teaching Civics
CLP: Grades 9-12

Constitutional and Legal Connections

None this week.

Oregon Connections

Measure 11 crimes and mandatory minimum sentences, Multnomah County
CLP: Clear listing of crimes and minimum sentences

Oregon Supreme Court Rules Criminal Justice Reforms By Legislature Can Stay, ACLU, January 31, 2019

Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.17 Examine the development activities of political parties and interest groups and their affect on events, issues, and ideas.
8.21 Analyze important political and ethical values such as freedom, democracy, equality and justice embodied in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
HS.29 Examine the structures and functions of Oregon’s state, county, local and regional governments.
HS.30 Analyze the roles and activities of political parties, interest groups, and mass media and how they affect the beliefs and behaviors of local, state, and national constituencies.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.35 Examine the pluralistic realities of society (e.g., race, poverty, gender and age), recognizing issues of equity, and evaluating need for change.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 5, Lesson 27: How does the Constitution protect the right to due process of law?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 29: What are the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 5, Lesson 32: How do the fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments protect rights within the judicial system?
  • Unit 6: What challenges might face American constitutional democracy in the Twenty-first century?