In I am concerned with what this means for

In an effort to reduce
the number of minority delinquents who come in contact with the juvenile
justice system, an extensive amount of research os being conducted in an array
of approaches. Means of truly understanding if race is at the forefront of
these decisions, and even studies on the upbringing of a child, and their
family involvement have played a part in research for some researchers. Some
have investigated specific cases and have questioned things such as society as
a whole. Reviewing previous

 studies, and observing literature filled with
statistics from surveys and interviews are definitely deemed important in
understanding this topic and furthering the effort to reduce minority contact,
especially for young minority girls.

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Statics show that the
number of minorities who have had any data collected on them at any point
within the juvenile justice system is significantly higher than those of the
majority. The controversial topic of disproportionate minority contact in the
juvenile justice system became an interest of mine when the youth of my
community became affected by this. I took it upon myself to research different
cases in North Carolina and review legislation to determine what I could do to
help. Unfortunately,

 it seems as though the justice system was
never constructed to help minorities, however, I feel that educating our youth
will help them progress.

Black youth is 4.7 times
more likely and Hispanic youth 3.4 times more likely than their white
counterparts to be transferred to adult court. (Council for Children’s Rights,
2016) I’ve followed closely a particular North Carolina bill named the Youth
Accountability Act (House Bill 1414). Without the passing of North Carolina
House Bill 1414 15-year olds who commit serious offenses will continue to start
in the juvenile court and then transferred to the adult court, and 16- and
17-year olds will continue

 to be automatically tried in the adult system,
regardless. Our black youth who sometimes make honest mistakes will face a
lifetime of consequences that will not only affect their mental health but
their well-being while being incarcerated. The Black Lives Matter Movement is
highly prevalent in the black community right now, and there are many
individuals, including myself who fear what the future holds for their young
black children, and for me personally, I am concerned with what this means for

 our black girls. Having the right resources
and the proper education, is just small steps to fixing big problems, and I
hope that people begin to take this controversial topic more seriously.

In an effort to
understand this bill more in-depth I started with looking into the history of
the juvenile justice system. The Juvenile justice system was established around
the 1700s. During this time many children were being placed in facilities with
individuals that were sometimes twice their ages. It wasn’t until the Progressive
Era that a group of activists by the name of the “Child Savers” pressed for a
juvenile system that would stress the importance of redemption and prevention
over punishment.

 This separate juvenile justice system differed
from the adult court in an abundant number of ways. One of the most imperative
goals of the juvenile justice system was to focus on the needs of the child and
not so much on the act that may have brought them before the court in this
first place.  Public viewing of juvenile
court proceedings was not allowed as it was a way to keep individual cases very
confidential, in an effort to assure children were able to reenter society as
normal.  Even the very

 language used in juvenile court differed.
Words such as delinquencies and reformatory were used instead of crimes, and
prison. Unfortunately, certain procedural safeguards such as the right to an
attorney, and the right to trial by jury, which was readily available to
adults, was denied to juveniles, as it was deemed unnecessary.

The first juvenile court
was started in 1899, in Chicago. Soon after, in 1909, the city of Concord in
North Carolina established the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial
School.  The first day of operation for
this facility was January 12th, and the first pupil that arrived came from the
town of Burlington. (Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School,
1930) This facility only housed young white boys who had not reached their
sixteenth birthday. This particular facility made

 an effort to constantly mention that they
didn’t have the proper equipment for mentally and/or physically disabled
individuals and would not accept them.

It is not surprising to
me at all that these establishments later started special sections for minority
children, and these children on average were one-and-a-half to two years
younger than  their white counterparts
and endured longer sentences and harsher treatment. They also endured a
disproportionately high death rate and, once discharged, were not granted the
same opportunities for advancement as their white counterparts.

By the Roaring Twenties a
gentleman by the name of Thad Tate, voiced his unease with the great number of
black boys being placed on chain gangs. Chain gangs were groups of convicts
forced to labor at tasks such as road construction, ditch digging, or farming
while chained together. (Chain Gangs. PBS, 2014) Tate believed that a training
school very similar to the Stonewall Jackson School should be established for
young black boys.

Cameron Morrison helped
bring Tate’s proposal to light in 1925, when he opened the Cameron Morrison
Training School for Negroes, in Hoffman North Carolina. The school offered core
curriculum and job-related courses. By the end of 1925 the school’s population
had grown quite a bit, going from thirty-seven to sixty-two and by 1956, the
total enrollment had gone to 228.

After researching this
history I took a look further into cases of youth minorities being charged as
adults, and although many were old, one particular case hit very close to home.
The “Kissing Case” of 1958 happened right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina
in a small town called Monroe. Segregation was extremely prevalent during this
time and this particular case caught international attention. This happened in
October when at the time, the city only had a population of about 12,000, with
an estimated

 7500 of this population being members of the
Ku Klux Klan, according to press reports. (Williams, 1957)  The case involved two young African American
boys, James Hanover Thompson (9), and David Simpson (7) and a young Caucasian
girl, Sissy Sutton (7). The children were playing a seemingly harmless game,
which landed the young boys in jail.

    The “Kissing Game,” as the neighborhood
children often called it, was a game where girls would sit on boys’ laps, and
give them a peck on the check. Sissy decided to be James’ partner during the
game, and later chatted with her sister about it when she returned home.
Apparently, the girls’ mother overheard of Sissy playing a game with some black
boys and was enraged. The mother even went as far as to call up other parents
to organize a plan to kill the boys and lynch their mothers.

    The day after the incident, James and David
were arrested for rape and placed in a jail cell. James recalled being beaten
by officers and threatened and scared by Ku Klux Klan members. An entire six
days passed, and the boys had no access to their mothers or legal
attorneys. 

 A gentleman by the name of Robert F Williams
caught wind of the controversial incident and decided he wanted to help put a
stop to what was happening. He reached out to The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its leaders for support and they
refused to help in the case. They were said to have a long-standing policy
against being directly involved in cases that involved sex.

After not receiving the
help he thought he would get from the NAACP, Williams then turned to the
support of the European Press. A reporter for the London News-Chronicle was
actually allowed to see the boys and brought the boys’ mothers along when she
flew into Monroe to make her visit.  The
reporter, Joyce Egginton, managed to capture a picture of the boys hugging
their mothers and the story along with the picture was released in Europe on
December 15, 1958. News reports of the case began to spread

 like wildfire and even first lady Eleanor
Roosevelt asked Governor Luther Hodges to show leniency in the case.

After spending three
months in detention the governor acquitted James and David, and they were
released. (Staff, NPR) This was only after the boys’ mothers refused to sign an
“admission of guilt” waiver.

 

Educating myself on
legislation, history, and certain cases have indeed opened my eyes to the
systematic injustice of minority youth. It was extremely hard for me to find
much research on minority girls in the juvenile justice system, and I quickly
learned it was because girls in North Carolina are less likely to be involved
with the criminal justice systems than boys. I did, however, find that in
relation to their white counterparts minority females are more likely to be
identified as juvenile offenders.

 While researching I came across some
statistics that referred to the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) youth community. More specifically, a
national study found that non-heterosexual girls were about twice as likely to
be arrested and convicted as other girls who had engaged in similar behavior.
Although there aren’t nearly as many minority girls in the juvenile justice
system I still feel it is imperative that we learn what causes these young
ladies to get

 involved with the system and what effects it
has on them. Girls are the fastest growing number of juvenile crimes despite
the overall drop in juvenile crime. However, the biggest concern of the fate of
these young girls is the extent of these crimes. Girls have been seen at an alarmingly
high rate to as committers of violent offenses.

In my opinion, girls are
the backbone of our society. Speaking as a black woman, I have seen an
overwhelming amount of love and support from women to other women but
especially to men. Although, our system has failed so many men and women. I
think women, especially young minority women, can be a source of help when it
comes to reducing the number of minority delinquents who come in contact with
the juvenile justice system. If minority young women are given interventions
before being exposed to the

 juvenile justice system this number will
decrease. I believe that minority women, especially black, are raised
differently in their homes so the approaches to helping them should be
different too. I am not at all saying that they deserve special treatment or
shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions, but instead being realistic.
The youth of any color are still children, they learn from doing wrong things
and then being exposed to the correct way. What exactly does a child learn from
being

 thrown in a jail cell for the first time they
steal something? That more than likely mommy and daddy will bail them out and
pay their bond. Sentences shouldn’t be harsher for certain offenses but
counseling should be a factor in helping our youth. Getting down to source of
the trouble these children endure is how it should be fixed, not treating them
like adults.