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The “Becca Bill” 20 Years Later: Unintended Consequences

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Starcia Ague Photo

Status offenses such as running away may be a child’s most effective way to avoid sexual abuse at home. Washington’s Becca Bill can unwittingly abet dangerous situations that children are attempting to flee. ARY (At Risk Youth) orders cannot effectively slow the feeder mechanisms for child sexual abuse if they target symptoms—children’s behavior—rather than causes and, in some cases, ARY orders directly inhibit the child’s essential human rights, such as the right to withhold access to one’s own body.

Informing Policymakers on Status Offense Reform

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Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Jodi Martin Photo_edited

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) has been busy promoting the importance of status offense reforms to various policymakers and stakeholder groups across the country.

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The “Becca Bill” 20 Years Later: How Washington’s Truancy Laws Negatively Impact Children

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Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Starcia Ague Photo

The Becca laws have made Washington State the country’s foremost jailer of children for “status offenses” like skipping school. It allows parents to use legal petitions called ARY (At Risk Youth) to obtain court orders that require children to participate in social services, attend school, and obey guardians. However, poverty—not insufficient parental authority—is the primary cause of truancy. The law also makes things much harder for children who are already laboring under social stigma and racism. As momentum builds nationwide toward creating less punitive juvenile justice systems, it is time to examine our truancy laws.

Gender and Justice in America: Ending the unjust treatment of girls charged with minor offenses

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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Since the early 90s, research has shown that girls in the juvenile justice system are more likely than their male peers to be detained for status offenses and minor delinquent behavior. The findings of a recent study by researchers at the University of Texas provides strong evidence that, despite dramatic reform over the last 15 years, the tendency to lock girls up for less serious offenses, such as running away from home, has not budged.

Moving the Dial on Truancy in Fairfax County

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Monday, September 21st, 2015

At first glance, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is a high-functioning school system that routinely meets or exceeds its academic and attendance goals for the majority of its students. Yet, truancy remains a challenge for a fair number of our students. Recognizing this issue, Fairfax County has identified school attendance as a key priority–seeking a better understanding of challenges facing youth who do not regularly attend school and reviewing current school attendance tracking practices within the County.

Coordinating Change: Nebraska’s New Approach to Status Offenders

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Monday, August 17th, 2015

Juliet Summers headshot

Juliet Summers, Policy Coordinator for Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice with Voices for Children in Nebraska All our children deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity, and to be permitted the space to learn and grow from their mistakes. As advocates, we know that the vast majority of young people will simply grow out […]

Why Texas is Poised to Become a Model for Truancy Reform

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

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Morgan Craven, Director of Texas Appleseed’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Project Becky missed school to visit her childhood home with her mother, whose memory was fading due to a degenerative brain disease. Megan missed school because she was put on doctor-ordered bed rest due to pregnancy and delivery complications. Luke was tardy to several periods because he […]

Project MARRS: A Community Policing Response to Runaway Youth

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Thursday, June 25th, 2015

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When runaways are found, the common police response of telling youth not to run away again reinforces their belief that no one cares about them. It is also a missed opportunity for law enforcement to connect young people to services which can prevent further victimization and future criminal involvement

JJGPS Website Adds New Section Examining Status Offense Issues

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Friday, June 12th, 2015

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We are excited to share the recently released Status Offense Issues section of the Juvenile Justice Geography, Policy, Practice & Statistics website (JJGPS.org). The JJGPS, an online resource developed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, synthesizes national and state level […]

West Virginia Passes Truancy Bill to Better Support Students

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Friday, April 24th, 2015

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Mishi Faruqee & Jennifer Meinig, ACLU Fourteen-year-old Brandi B.* was suspended from school for six days. What happened next was shocking. Brandi’s school decided that the school-sanctioned suspension days were “unexcused” absences and then referred her to juvenile court for truancy. The judge ruled that Brandi had committed a status offense and sentenced Brandi to […]