My life course is a testament of the human potential for positive change, and I am in no way an exception. I personally know many individuals who have gone through similar experiences and are now living positive and productive lives.
Rather than giving all of our kids an opportunity to succeed, expelling and criminalizing young people pulls the rug out from underneath them at childhood, steering them away from college or career, and redirecting them on the path of dropping out and prison.
If you sit in juvenile delinquency court long enough, you notice a few things. Most of the kids are black or brown. Almost all of the families are poor. And a huge percentage of the children have problems in school - learning difficulties, mental health needs, behavioral issues, or all three.
The idea that we can look at a 14-year-old and know that he will be evil his entire life reflects a dangerous certainty -- that we somehow know which children will be a danger in 30, 40 or 50 years. Perhaps most importantly, it runs against the beliefs of a faithful nation.
This week we celebrated the Fourth of July! A holiday we associate with fireworks, flags, picnics at the beach and our independence. So why was my first thought when I woke up on this day of frolic about teen girls in a juvenile detention center?
The time has come for juvenile direct file reform in Colorado. Brain research has come a long way since 1993, and we are so close to using this evidence and research to guide our juvenile justice system.
Despite the desperate backgrounds of Homegirl Café trainees -- everyone is either a previous gang member, drug addict, previously incarcerated or all three -- the place has a sunny interior, colorful artwork on the walls, and food that is fresh and delicious.
Who have been the primary beneficiaries of "school reform?" Duh, the for-profit companies! While consultants and think tanks have done OK, the real money has been in testing and textbooks and technology and construction.
It costs approximately $130,000 to keep one teenager in juvenile detention for one year. It would cost less than $200 per child per year to fund Educating Children for Parenting, a violence prevention program.
Most people take comfort in the popular myth of American justice--that only the guilty get arrested, charged, and incarcerated. It's obvious: more blacks than whites are arrested and put in jail because they commit more crimes.