Sophie Karpf

Recent Posts

New York Raises the Age for Juvenile Defendants, All Eyes Turn to North Carolina

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Apr 18, 2017 8:30:00 AM

As of April 9, there is only one state in the nation that charges 16-year-olds as adults

Today, 800 inmates in New York jails and state prisons are younger than 18. What’s more, 96 percent of these youth are incarcerated for non-violent offenses. But after an April 9 legislative vote, things will be different.

new york raise the age gov cuomo.jpg

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Topics: raise the age

A Prosecutor’s Vision for a Better Juvenile Justice System

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Apr 11, 2017 8:50:18 AM

He was a high schooler who made a mistake, and Adam Foss gave him a second chance

Christopher was an 18-year-old, high-school senior who dreamed of going to college. Trouble is, despite working part time, he didn’t have enough money for tuition. What’s a kid to do? Christopher ended up stealing 30 laptops from a local store and selling them on the internet. He was arrested and charged with 30 felonies, one for each device.

When this case landed on Adam Foss’ desk in 2009, he knew he had a decision to make. As a criminal prosecutor, the decision to arraign Christopher, and what to arraign him for, was his and his alone.

adam foss ted talk prosecutors vision for justice system.jpg

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Topics: juvenile justice system

New Missouri Statute Worrisome for School-to-Prison Pipeline

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Jan 5, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Schoolyard fracases now felonies in Missouri

It’s about to get way worse in the Show Me State.

The first day of the New Year, the day that traditionally marks a bright new beginning, marked a dark new chapter in Missouri's history.

Imagine a school-yard scuffle, maybe a punch or two thrown, some rolling on the ground. 

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Topics: school to prison pipeline

An Angry and Aggressive Teen is No Match for MST

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Oct 27, 2016 12:31:14 PM

To wrap up Youth Justice Awareness Month, we are sharing a family story from Maine. Our hope is that all young people will be given a chance to succeed like Mitch was.

Imagine you’re a parent of four young kids. When the oldest is 11, he starts acting out in ways you aren’t able to manage. Mitch has massive anger outbursts that he takes out on the furniture, walls and cabinets. He discounts all authority. He is angry and aggressive. If asked to do chores, he vehemently refuses and leaves the house for hours. When he sets his eyes on a new toy or electronic, even if it is one you can’t afford, he starts cussing, hitting things and scaring his siblings, so much so that you feel you have to give in. You start to give in so often that you are running through your savings. 

angry aggressive teen.jpg

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Topics: success stories,

Richard Ross: The Story Behind His Photographs

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Sep 20, 2016 12:30:00 PM

One man tells the story of youth incarceration through photographs

How does a professor, researcher and architectural photographer end up depicting the cruelties of the juvenile-justice system with his photography? It seems an unlikely marriage of talents, but when Richard Ross was working on a project photographing the architecture at the El Paso Juvenile Detention Center, he noticed he was unintentionally capturing the young people there in his photos. With this discovery came an idea: What if he could put a human face on the young people who are locked up inside our nation’s detention centers?


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End Juvenile Incarceration Now

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Aug 25, 2016 12:30:00 PM

Why we ought to shut down juvenile prisons

Nell Bernstein makes the bold assertion that all juvenile prisons should be completely shut down in her 2014, nationally acclaimed book, Burning Down the House. In April, Bernstein spoke at the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development conference, where she applauded the 50-percent drop in juvenile incarceration since the mid-’90s. The numbers are down 50 percent, but does that mean the glass is half full or half empty? According to Bernstein, it doesn’t really matter since the  contents of juvenile prisons are toxic to children. “We’re administering this poison to a smaller group of kids, [so] pragmatically, of course [that] matters immensely. But if the goal is not just reform, but justice, we’ve miles to go before we rest.”Nell_bernstein_shut_down_juvenile_prisons.jpg

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Topics: juvenile prison costs

Giving Voice to Youth Incarceration

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Aug 2, 2016 10:30:00 AM

A simple phone call could change the way you view juvenile justice

I’ve read the reports. I know the statistics. I am acutely familiar with the disparities that permeate the juvenile-justice system.

I’ve read books, too. Books threaded throughout with personal, heartbreaking stories that attempt to bridge the gap between the abstract idea of youth incarceration and the true experience of living through it. And I’ve been touched by those stories. I’ve felt the secondhand pain of the kids and families whose lives were ripped apart by incarceration.


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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration

Judge Steven Teske on Getting Tough on Crime Video

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Jun 21, 2016 11:35:05 AM

Georgia juvenile court judge raises graduation rates and reduces crime

Why does it benefit a juvenile-court judge to reduce detention if it isn't costing him anything? Well, in the words of Chief Judge Steven Teske, it’s because it’s the right thing to do.

And reduce detention he did.


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Topics: MST pre-conference

What to Do with an Out-Of-Control Youth?

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Jun 14, 2016 11:00:00 AM

“For years, we had to defend our crazy.” These are the words Susan used to describe the situation with her son, Benjamin. 

For confidentiality, all names have been changed.

By the time Benjamin was 12, his family had nearly reached the end of their rope. With seven members of a blended family living under the same roof, things were understandably chaotic at times. They were only made more strained by Benjamin’s frequent angry outbursts and out-of-control rage.benjamin.jpg

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Topics: success stories,

Good Judges Make Good Juvenile Justice

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Jun 9, 2016 11:00:00 AM

How one judge is making a difference in the lives of the youth and community he serves

In 1899, the first-ever juvenile court was established in Cook County, Illinois. Within 25 years, almost all states had a juvenile-court system setup. Their primary goal was to rehabilitate, not punish, young people who committed delinquent acts. Thus, from its very inception, the juvenile-justice system was intended for prevention and rehabilitation.

There are a few key differences between the juvenile-court and the adult criminal-court system. Of major significance, juveniles are not entitled to a trial by jury. judge_ri.jpgMagistrate Charles Levesque, center

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Topics: juvenile justice system

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