June 25, 2018

CUA Law professor Cara Drinan wrote a June 24, 2018 op-ed entitled "Outraged By Kids In Cages? Look At Our Entire Juvenile Justice System" in the Huffington Post.

Outraged By Kids In Cages? Look At Our Entire Juvenile Justice System

By: Cara Drinan
Date: June 24, 2018
From: The Huffington Post

Last week, the nation witnessed an abrupt reversal from the White House. After claiming for days that he did not have the authority to address the family separation crisis at the border, President Donald Trump appeared to do just that with the stroke of a pen.

Trump has purportedly put an end to the family separation policy, but he has also created a host of new issues to resolve. How and when will nearly 2,500 migrant children be reunited with their parents? How and where will families be detained together going forward? Even as these legal questions are being resolved, there is a persistent sense of outrage among most Americans.

How could there not be? In 2018, in a time of tremendous economic prosperity, the United States is keeping migrant children in cages, claiming that a policy of family separation deters future illegal immigration. The images of what this policy entails are horrific: terrified, confused children watching as agents search their mothers; parents pleading with agents to show mercy; children sleeping on mats inside wire cages covered with Mylar blankets. The sounds of this inhumanity are even harder to stomach: children calling for their mother and father, sobbing to the point of breathlessness.

Trump's reversal this week is progress; it's a step in the right direction away from the inhumanity that the nation witnessed at the border. But let's also be clear: There are vulnerable kids in cages in every state across America whose cases will not be affected by the president's new order. In fact, on any given day there are approximately 50,000 juveniles being held in American correctional facilities, thousands of whom are in adult jails and prisons.

Despite inventing the juvenile court model in the late 19th century, the United States today is an international outlier in the severity of its juvenile justice practices. Today, every jurisdiction has some provision that permits a child to be charged as if they were an adult, and 23 states set no minimum age for employing this legal fiction.

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