Last August, American cities erupted in protest after Michael Brown, just 18 years old, was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. For the first time in decades there’s a national discussion about how just our criminal justice system is. Police shooting and prison reform are finally topics of Presidential debates. But what gets little attention is what we’re doing to our youngest citizens: our children. The U.S locks up more children than any other developed country by far. It’s time we talked about this. In the documentary you are about to see Prison Kids, You’ll meet young people who’s lives were torn apart by our juvenile justice system. Kids who needed help but instead were locked up. And you’ll meet those fighting everyday to turn it around. To stop the criminalization of childhood in America. If a society is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable citizens, are we ready for judgement day?>>[Savannah]: I hate being inside a cell. [Male voice] Got your little window to look outside and that’s really it. [Male voice] You feel claustrophobic. [Male voice] It was cold too. I was freezing. [Male voice] And Id be getting overwhelmed and heated about it. [Male voice] I was fed up, like I’m tired of being in this cell. *Voices overlapping* [Male voice] It was horrible. Worst time of my life. It was nerve-racking. I was losing it. I was freaked out. Yea I was young. I was young in there.>>[Aisha]: C’mon get up. I worry. I worry a lot that he will end up in jail. It’s so easy to end up in jail here, and for whatever reason. “C’mon baby time to go to school.” “C’mon.”>>[Narrator]: Aisha’s son Zion is 7 years old. “Open. Open”>>[Aisha]: If he gets into an altercation or he does something that they think is punishable, definitely. I worry a lot. “Zion are you going to behave today?”>>[Zion]: Yea.>>[Aisha]: “You gunna do all your work?”>>[Zion]: Ok.>>[Aisha]: You promise me?>>[Zion]: Yea.>>[Aisha]: Please you have to learn.>>[Narrator]: Zion lives in Broward County, Florida. School has never been easy for him.>>[Aisha]: A referral is when you get written up and it goes in your permanent record. I think right now Zion has over…over 40 definitely. In one year he had over 25 and I think that was in first grade. He kept getting suspended. One day here one day there. I had to leave my work two or three times a week.>>[Narrator]: Zion struggles with ADHD and anxiety which makes it hard for him to sit through a full school day.>>[Zion]: It will be like…it will be bad And it will be hard to calm me down.>>[Aisha]: Now how did that make you feel?>>[Zion]: Frustrated and bad.>>[Aisha]: Yeah? So I’m looking at his file right now. There’s so many I mean I’m going through this and I don’t even know where to start because theres just so many. Behavioral concerns may result in exclusion from participation in activities. Unruly play. This one was the big one. Battery on a district employee. He just had a major anxiety attack. He threw his desk. He threw everything he could find. Books whatever her was uncomtrollable. He was crying and crying. The teacher went to try and hold him down and she got kicked. They called me and said, “The police is here. You need to come right away again.” The police officer said, “Look I dont know if the teacher wants to press charges. I mean she could because she is under her right to press charges.” I felt like okay what are they going to do? Is he going to go to jail Is he gunna go to juvenile? Are they gunna handcuff him I means, he’s 7 he’s a baby. He’s my baby.>>[Narrator]: At 7 years old, Zion could legally be arrested for battery in Florida. It’s one of 33 states where there is no minimum age to charge a child with a crime. The U.S. incarcerates more children than any other developed country. 54,000 on any given night. Americans pay $8 Billion a year to incarcerate kids but thats only part of the cost.>>[Male Officer]: “You can do what we’ve asked you to or you can suffer the consequences.”>>[Child crying]: “Ow that hurts!”>>[Narrator]: In the last year you’ve seen small glimpses of what some call the criminalization of childhood. The handcuffing of a third grader in a Kentucky classroom. The suicide of Kalief Browder who was featured in the New Yorker. At 16 he was sent to jail for 3 years without ever being convicted of a crime. The violent confrontation between police and teenagers at a neighborhood pool party in Texas.>>[Male Officer]: On your face! To many Americans it’s shocking but it’s a system we created and it’s destroying lives.>>[Glenn]: We can really mess a kid up. We can create problems that did not exist. And then we turn them loose. We in essence created a criminal.>>[Narrator]: The vast majority of kids in juvenile jail don’t commit a violent crime. In fact, many are locked up for things that aren’t even crimes for adults. Skipping school, running away from home or missing curfew. Even those accused of more serious crimes are still children.>>[Savannah]: I could never imagine my life if I hadn’t been incarcerated as a kid.>>[Narrator]: Savannah first went to juvenile prison in Ohio when she was 14.>>[Savannah]: Yeah I was young when I was in there. I really grew up in there.>>[Narrator]: This is her in 2009.>>[Savannah]: I definitely feel sad about missing out on like school, games, stuff like that. You know being able to create memories for my family. My mom tell me sometimes that I robbed her of the chance of raising me.>>[Narrator]: Ohio’s juvenile prison is run by The Department of Youth Services where some of the bleakest places to be a kid locked up in America.>>[Savannah]: I saw like a lot of girls cutting and trying to commit suicide very very depressed girls and stuff like that in there. That was something I had never you know experienced before.>>[Narrator]: Savannah’s experience can be traced to what was happening in the country when she was just an infant.>>[Reporter]: In California three children all under the age of 10 were arrested this week after the near fatal beating of an infant.>>[Reporter]: In Chicago, a 10 and 11 year old drop a 5 year old from a high-rise to his death. Another 14 year old, arrested for gang rape.>>[Narrator]: In the mid 90’s America became terrified of a new brand of child criminal.>>[Male Voice]: Super predators come in every race, creed and zip code. They have literally no concept of the future either their own or anyone else’s.>>[Reporter]: Today they’re just children but will they be predators tomorrow?>>[Narrator]: The country went into a panic and lawmakers responded with what seemed like a simple solution, lock them up.>>There are no violent offenses that are juvenile. You rape somebody, you’re an adult. You shoot somebody, you’re an adult.>>[Clinton]: I’m directing the FBI and other investigative agencies to target gangs that involve juveniles and violent crime. And to seek authorities to prosecute as adults teenagers who maim and kill like adults.>>[Narrator]: The number of kids locked up in America peaked in the year 2000. Hitting 109,000 kids.>>We can expect crime waves of juvenile violence over the next 10 years.>>[Narrator]: But the predictions were wrong. There were no super predators. In fact, juvenile violent crime rates dropped. And the number of kids in juvenile facilities went down too. Still, the U.S. incarcerates children at a higher rate than anyone else. Those kids are usually black or brown. Most struggle with mental illness.>>[Zion]: It tickles in there.>>[Narrator]: This weighs on Zion’s mom Aisha.>>[Aisha]: That fear is still in me. That he’ll be arrested. That he won’t finish school.>>[Zion]: Hey look at this.>>[Aisha]: When you’re a mom, you’re so ambitious towards your kid you want them to be better than you were. That’s all ask. But I’m scared.>>Alright there you go.>>[Narrator]: Savannah is 22 years old. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.>>[Savannah]: I started to get in trouble around the age of like 12. I really didn’t like being at home that much. I had a lot of responsibilities. My mom worked a lot. She was a single mom. So I just…it was better to be worried about myself and be on my own.>>[Narrator]: At 14, Savannah was locked up in one of Ohio’s juvenile prisons run by the Department of Youth Services or DYS.>>[Savannah]: Well I never fought as much until I got to DYS. I never really had conflicts with other people in school that much. I got into fights here and there but not as much. Sometimes like I get anxiety and that would be a way of releasing it. Like I would just throw stuff or yell or do something and that would carry on to something else and something else and lead to a fight.>>[Narrator]: When Savannah fought, she says she was placed in solitary confinement. 23 hours straight in a cell. If she followed the rules, Savannah could earn time outside. Some consider solitary confinement torture. The state called it a Special Management Plan meant to make her a better inmate. Instead of helping, Savannah says it made her worse.>>[Savannah]: Sometimes I would work the plan and then maybe something might upset me or something and I’ll just ruin the whole thing. The isolation kinda sometimes made me feel crazy. To be in a cell for 23 hours is definitely like you know count bricks. It’s not really too much you can do. I remember one time somebody slipped me a marker. I drew on every inch of my wall. Like every inch of my wall was covered in something It kinda tests your mental state and sometimes you might find yourself talking to yourself or something. Just trying to pass time or anything you know find anything to do in there.>>[Allen]: A lot of people speak about the projects they think of like the place you wouldn’t want to be. That’s how they make it seem like something wrong with it. Aint nothing wrong with the projects tho I love the projects. I feel like it made me who I am. Want me to show you where my momma stay at?>>Yeah>>Keep straight.>>[Narrator]: Allen grew up in Cleveland. He spent more than two years in Ohio juvenile prison.>>[Allen]: I used to stay at this house right here. That used to be my window right there I used to jump out that window when I’m on punishment. She don’t let me out the house I hang drop and I’ll run over there. Run through there.>>I don’t know.>>[Narrator]: Allen was also held in solitary confinement when he went to kid prison at age 15. I used to pace a lot. Pace back and forth. Looking out the outside window just looking back and forth pacing.>>[Narrator]: When he was incarcerated, Allen was diagnosed with a mood disorder and severe ADHD. He struggled to control his behavior.>>[Dr. Grassian]: Once a prisoner gets into solitary confinement usually because of impulsive emotionally volitile kind of behavior, once they get in, they get worse. And then they never get out. And that’s what happens to a lot of these kids.>>[Narrator]: Dr. Stuart Grassian has studied the impact of solitary confinement on inmates for three decades.>>[Dr. Grassian]: Instead of understanding what was going on with these kids they were punished, put in solitary confinement. And from everything we know from working with adults and these juveniles putting these people in solitary confinement is gunna make them worse.>>[Narrator]: Grassian examined files of several kids held in solitary confinement in Ohio juvenile prison. He found all had mental health issues.>>[Male voice on TV]: But if you’re caught you’re arrested…>>[Narrator]: The juvenile justice system was created more than 100 years ago, with the idea that kids aren’t fully developed and they have the potential to change if they are given the opportunity.>>I don’t believe you’re really a bad boy. And I’m not going to send you away this time.>>[Elijah Williams]: The purpose of the adult system was to punish the offender. In juvenile, the objective and the statute is to rehabilitate the child and turn the child around. And I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s a lot easier to punish a person than to try and turn a child around.>>[Narrator]: Just like in other parts of the country there was more punishment than rehabilitation in Ohio.>>[Dr. Grassian]: Sadly what develops in places like this is a very kind of cynical kind of cruel attitude towards the kids.>>[Narrator]: In 2011, the year Allen got arrested, kids in Ohio Juvinile prison spent 229,000 hours in isolation. Thats an average of 306 hours per kid that year. The more time Allen spent inside the worse his behavior got.>>[Allen]: It just made me more aggressive. It made me more on the edge. I was always mad like…upset…like frustrated. I felt like the whole little program and all that only made us worse. That’s all it did, it only made us worse.>>[Narrator]: Allen says he never took psychotropic drugs until he was on trial in juvenile jail.>>[Allen]: I used to just be up all the time all night, couldn’t sleep, thinking. That’s when they first introduced me to Seroquel. They said, “This will help you sleep.”>>[Narrator]: Seroquel is a powerful antipsychotic drug. When Allen was sent to kid prison the state continued to prescribe it. Sometimes at the maximum dose.>>[Allen]: I used to be like stuck. For real, I would take my Seroquel and just be like stuck. Just staring out in space or something. You really can’t even move.>>[Narrator]: Documents reveal that on one of the days that Allen was incarcerated, 92% of the kids locked up with him were on psychotropic drugs. The medication and solitary confinement were dangerous combinations.>>[Dr. Grassian]: If you do this to an adolescent for a long period of time there’s significant evidence here, you’re altering brain functioning and brain development.>>[Cory Booker]: We engage in practices in prisons and jails that actually make people far more dangerous.>>[Narrator]: U.S. Senator Cory Booker has introduced legislation that would ban the use of solitary confinement for juveniles.>>[Cory Booker]: We routinely in this country put children in solitary confinement. Which has a traumatizing impact on that child’s emotional and mental health. In fact 60% of the kids that are committing suicide in prisons are ones that have been put into solitary confinement. Other countries consider the practice torture, but we do it with regularity.>>[Narrator]: In just one year, Allen spent 313 days in solitary confinement.>>[Dr. Grassian]: You know, and one of the really sad things about it is that if you looked at those charts a lot of those kids entered the system hopeful that the system could help them. They’ve been given a tremendous burden and impairment. And I think it’s exceedingly difficult to overcome that. You know the generation of kids who went through those kind of systems, you know it’s tragic. Uh, you know I…all we can do is just pray for them.>>[Savannah]: I’m going to a new school when I get home. I’m gunna be entering the 10th grade. Probably stay at that school, graduate from that school. If everything goes okay. Because I’ve already got my mind set is what I want to do. I want to go farther in life. I had plans before. Those plans didn’t work out. And it’s really like I haven’t planned nothing else. It’s not really about dreaming no more.>>[Zion]: Ow!>>[Aisha]: When he was about three and a half, they said that he was behind in his speech.>>[Zion]: I’m a soccer genius!>>[Aisha]: At first he could not articulate very well. He felt very anxious about learning. He just couldn’t stay still.>>[Narrator]: Aisha says that by age 5, Zion had been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety and depression.>>[Aisha]: We entered him into therapy and at first it was kinda helping him with the coping skills but it just stopped. He just…it just wasn’t helping him anymore. Here’s your other medication.>>[Narrator]: So, Aisha says, Zion started taking medicine.>>[Aisha]: First we had Risperdal. Risperdal seemed to work a little. But then he gained 30 pounds. They gave him adderall. He became a monster with adderall. He was on Focalin. It was so hard because when you’re giving him Focalin you know you’re giving him cocaine. And he was allergic to that. He ended up in the hospital. And then he was fine but you couldn’t give it to him. How can you give a pill to a 6 year old? What happens when he’s 20, 25?>>[Narrator]: Students with disabilities represent a quarter of all police referrals at school. 70% of kids in the juvenile justice system struggle with mental health issues.>>[Dr. Hunter]: I think that the thing that is startling is the incidents rate of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.>>[Narrator]: Dr. John Hunter is a medical psychologist who works with kids in the juvenile jail in New Orleans.>>[Dr. Hunter]: I cannot tell you how many kids I have treated here who have bullets in their body. They’ve had their best friend die in their arms. They’ve seen their fathers murdered. So the incidents level of violence is very, very high. And those problems actually contributed to their getting in trouble and ending up in the juvenile justice system.>>[Brian]: I gotta go get it. I gotta go get it.>>[Narrator]: Brian grew up in Ohio.>>[Brian]: I handle business I did it.>>[Brian]: My family was a family of 8. No father there. My mom just one person taking care of 8 kids. Of course people know how rough that can be.>>[Narrator]: Most of the kids in the juvenile system have a history of trauma.>>[Brian]: At 9 years old this man got killed, shot in front of me. By a Shell gas station. Left him in the bushes. Oh yeah it traumatized me for real. Um…Made me panic a lot.>>How you doing?>>[Narrator]: Brian was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as a boy.>>[Brian]: I was diagnosed with ADHD first. I was young.>>[Narrator]: Brian says he joined a gang when he was 9.>>[Brian]: I found family, a support system. They showed me a lot of love. But they have you do all these things and you get locked up for them.>>[Narrator]: Brian first went to kid jail when he was 12 and spent years in and out of facilities. He says he spent time in solitary confinement.>>[Brian]: I’m not a jail person. I don’t like jail. Trying to maintain you in this cell for 23 hours you gunna go crazy. I believe if you anybody, you gunna go crazy. And you start hearing things. Nobody in your room talking to you. I was uh… hallucinating a lot. I was trippin…I was trippin, I was trippin hard. I’m sorry.>>[Narrator]: Brian says he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When he was inside, he says he was given powerful psychotropic drugs daily. I didn’t have no help.What’s hard for me to receive treatment after being incarcerated. Because don’t nobody want to help me.>>[Dr. Hunter]: These are kids that are typically not welcome in the traditional mental health system because of their behavior problems, um So it’s very hard for them to get access. Once they’ve been identified as a juvenile justice involved youth, a lot of psychiatric facilities will not accept them. Because of their concern about how disruptive their behavior may be and their effect on their staff and other kids.>>[Linda Tedosio]: which the state alleges are sufficient to establish…>>[Narrator]: Linda Tedosio is a juvenile judge in Akron, Ohio whose help rethink how courts treat mentally ill kids.>>[Linda Tedosio]: I think that a lot of folks still believe that if you lock up a youth for awhile regardless of his illness, that he will learn that when he is released that he shouldn’t act that way again. And you know in my mind I always like to liken it to you know if you have a kid who has an epileptic seizure are you really gunna lock them up for a few days to teach them not to have another seizure? If we don’t treat the underlying cause, locking them up or punishing them is not gunna solve the issue.>>Mike left his treatment team notes for me. I’m concerned with how much she’s working a little bit.>>[Narrator]: This group of counselors developers treatment plans for kids with mental health issues who face low level charges. Kids get help and stay out of juvenile jail.>>[Linda Tedosio]: If you do the programming in the community and you’re actually working with them where they live the chances of them being more successful in the long run are much higher because they are connected with those services right there in the community.>>[Narrator]: When kids successfully complete the program, their charges are dropped. Even if a mentally ill child does something that is against the law, it’s not enough just to impose punishment. We really have to couple that with appropriate treatment to give them the best opportunity to move on and have a successful life.>>Chris came a long way from me having to go get him out of bed every morning [people laughing] he’s come a long way.>>Great, so whose next? [People laughing]>>Flex!>>Yeah now you’re good.>>You gunna talk about me cuttin.>>[Narrator]: Brian has stayed out of jail for three years. Since coming home, he’s reunited with his dad and twin brother.>>[Brian Sr.]: Triplets All three men have been locked up.>>[Brian Sr.]: See and I wasn’t around, I didn’t know a lot of things they was doing growing up. I know the things I’ve done and then them being my boys I was like I hear some things here and there and I’m like, “Ah what, he did what?”>>[Brian]: A lot of that had to do with me and bruh lock up because being on probation at a young age you know…>>Been on probation all of our life.>>Told y’all. I got some good boys. I got some good boys. They don’t…they aint out here robbing, stealing none of that you know?>>[Brian]: Aint gangbangin no more. Thank you. I thank you know… I’m just happy about that because like I said it’s just so crazy out here man.>>[Brian]: I wish I had my own TV, my own room, my own room, my own bed, my own clothes. It took away my life. Because I had no childhood. Things I wanted to do, I couldn’t do because I was steady getting locked up.>>[Aisha]: Get in the car. Seatbelts. So Z you gunna be a good boy? Huh?>>Yes.>>You gotta try your best you know that right?>>[Narrator]: In 2011, the year Zion started preschool, his school district arrested more students than any other in the state of Florida.>>[Aisha]: You feel discriminated. He’s Latino and he’s Black too so to me it’s perfect, perfect mix. But you know you do, you feel discriminated. I might not have a lot of money but I’m trying to raise the kid the best I can. And um, I don’t want him to be singled out. I don’t want him to be another statistic. It’s a beautiful day right Zion?>>Yeah.>>[Narrator]: In Florida, 53% of the kids arrested in school are Black even though they are just 21% of the youth population.>>[Elijah Williams]: I asked to come down here to juvenile delinquency because I knew that I would be working with African American males predominantly.>>[Narrator]: Elijah Williams is a juvenile judge in Broward County, Florida. His courtroom is a few miles away from Zion’s neighborhood.>>[Elijah Williams]: I’m gunna look in that box and I’m gunna see dozens of them lined up and I see myself. Because I came from their background. The criminal justice system, our legal system, was designed by people who were white, wealthy and who were highly educated. So my challenge everyday as a judge is to make the system work for people who are of color, who are not as educated, and not as wealthy. That’s what I do everyday when I come to work. [Music playing]>>[Narrator]: Between January 2013 and june 2015 97% of the kids arrested in New Orleans were Black. They make up about 72% of the minors in the city.>>[Chaseray Griffin]: The amount of people we have currently incarcerated, the amount of kids we have currently out of school a lot of that comes from the lack of opportunities provided to those students and the lack of services also. I say probably opportunities and services. Those two things together, make a very bad cocktail.>>[Narrator]: Chaseray Griffin is an education advocate for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He spends a lot of his time reading school discipline records.>>I’m just…all these education documents so right now what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to organize everything because I just got these like a week ago.>>[Narrator]: Buried in Griffin’s paperwork is the file of an 8th grader arrested for battery. He threw Skittles at another boy and spent six nights in juvenile jail. A seventh grade special needs student who spent a night in jail for cursing in a school parking lot. A 10 year old autistic girl who was dragged and pinned to the ground by school police. All of these kids are Black.>>You know there’s just this idea in a lot of the community that’s like well these kids are just bad right. People do just label them as bad kids and do just label them as problem children and do just want to put them in silos where all the bad kids can be. So they kinda just get pushed to the side as like we’ll deal with you the easiest way we possibly can.>>[Narrator]: Sometimes that means an arrest. Nationally, Black students account for almost a third of all school arrests. Eventhough they only make up 16% of the school population.>> [Thena Robinson]: When it comes to Black students the reaction is often that those students should know better. That they’re older than they appear. That we don’t view Black students as children. We view them as little adults. And this…sort of the benefit of the doubt the benefit of innocence, childlike innocence is not afforded to Black students. [Children laughing]>>Boy I got a drink you know those little Minute Maid juices>>[Nicole]: I was in uh, 6th grade and this girl had been kept messing with me. We started fighting. And that’s when I went to jail.>>[Narrator]: Nicole lives in Jefferson Parish, the county next to New Orleans. Nicole says she was 11 when she went to jail for fighting at school.>>[Nicole]: To me it’s just scary I don’t like to be isolated. When I get isolated my nerves get bad. I don’t know I just…They really made me feel like I was a bad person. Like this where they really put bad people at. They tried to treat me like a criminal for real.>>[Quita]: Drove me nuts because I didn’t know why. They kept telling me it was for disciplinary issues at school and I was like, well I thought they handled this at school?>>[Narrator]: In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that in 2011, Jefferson Parish public schools arrested more students than any other school district in Louisiana. In 2014 they found that Black kids made up 80% of the school arrests Even though they are one 41% of the school population here.>>[Sara]: What seems like a small issue of arresting a kid for a minor thing, you know that kid has to face all these extra barriers in order to graduate from high school, go to college, um you know get a job.>>[Narrator]: Sarah Godchaux is an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2012 they filed a complaint with the Department of Education over racial disparities in school arrests here.>>[Sara]: I think putting these barriers for kids especially minority kids is a huge setback for our country because we’re stacking the cards against all children from being able to succeed and become you know successful members of our society.>>[Narrator]: Harsh disciplinary policies in schools became popular in the late 90s. After the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, the number of police officers in schools increased. The number of school related arrests did too but the kids getting arrested were not necessarily dangerous. Black kids and those with disabilities are arrested at school at a higher rate then their classmates.>> [Thena Robinson]: Whereas our white students we find that the response is, “Let’s find out what supports you need.” A Black student who is allegedly acting out in class, that behavior is immediately criminalized.>>It’s unbelievable and it goes on everyday. They have them arrested for petty little stuff. Petty little things that they can handle themselves.>>[Narrator]: Nicole’s twin brother Deon was also arrested in school. Both are special needs students. Deon’s family says he first got locked up long term when he was 13. For almost three years, he bounced between group homes and juvenile facilities.>>[Deon]: They were horrible.Worst time in my life. I wish I could go back on there just to fix that time. Wish I had a time machine right now, I could just press rewind.>>[Narrator]: When we spoke with Deon in April he had just been released from a juvenile prison outside New Orleans.>>[Interviewer] So how does it feel to be out now? After being in the facility?>>[Deon]: Oh man. Feels good. Real good.>>[Interviewer]: What are your plans now for the future?>>[Deon]: Plans for the future, I got so many plans. I’m trying to become the next upcoming rapper. And um, trying to get a job, go back to school, you know basically what a young teenager trying to do. By the grace of God just helping me and just helping me do the right thing. I’m just trying to do the right thing. Because I got another chance to do the right thing. Many people don’t get other chances.>>[Narrator]: About 2 months after we interviewed Deon he had gotten locked up again.>>[Interviewer]: Alright is there anything else you want to say before I pack up and get out of here?>>[Deon]: Nah just thank you for spending time with us. That’s it.>>[Narrator]: The Southern Poverty Law Center found that since 2012 the racial disparities in school arrests have actually gotten worse. In April, they asked the Department of Justice to investigate. Jefferson Parish public schools declined an interview. They provided a statement saying that they are aware and concerned by the allegations and will work with the agencies involved to resolve any issues.>>It’s too late. You know, help these children while they have a chance while they’re still young and there is a chance for them. Because the older they get, the worse it’s going to get. It starts out small and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. The long term effect is the children give up. My son has like totally given up. He’s given up on school, he’s given up on himself. It’s like nothing I do matters so I may as well do whatever they say I’m doing and be what they say I’m a be. You know which is sad. It’s really really sad.>>[Glenn Holt]: They’re not up yet? Well why don’t we go ahead and just turn on their lights just to get ’em… Because if we don’t, they’ll never get up.>>[Narrator]: This is the Youth Study Center, the juvenile jail in New Orleans. The kids here haven’t been found guilty, they’re all locked up awaiting trial on charges ranging from school fights to robbery and rape.>>[Timothy]: I’ve been here since January. So that’s like 5, 6 months.>>[Interviewer]: What do you miss about home?>>[Timothy]: The cooking. You know? Having little talks you know. We used to play cards for candy, I miss that. Lord like you never knew how important it was to spend time with your family and you be like I really don’t see my mom everyday. You know? I can’t see my family everyday so>>[Narrator]: On the day we visited the jail in May, every kid here was Black.>>[Glenn Holt ]: They’re all African American, Black, young Black kids. Um today my population is 100% Yesterday my population was 100%, my population has been 100% um most of the time that I’ve been here.>>[Narrator]: Glenn Holt has run this jail for 5 years.>>[Glenn Holt]: We have an anomaly in Orleans Parish in that white kids don’t go to detention. Apparently they don’t commit car burglaries, apparently they don’t get in school fights and commit assaults. Apparently they’re not selling drugs. Because if they are, they’re not winding up in detention.>>[Narrator]: The disparity here in New Orleans is especially stark but not unusual. Nationally, Black kids are more than twice as likely to be arrested as white kids. They’re also more likely to be charged as adults. That’s what happened to Timothy. Even though he’s 16, Timothy faces charges in adult court.>>[Tania Galloni]: In the adult court kids face something that they don’t face in juvenile court which is mandatory minimums. Certain offenses carry mandatory minimum prison terms. So you’re looking at 10 years. Now when you’re 15 years old, and you’re looking at a 10 year sentence that’s almost as long as you’ve been alive. There’s no consideration for that sort of proportionality when a child is in adult court.>>[Narrator]: In Louisiana, 17 year olds go straight to adult court. They are not charged as juveniles. It’s 1 of 11 states where kids as young as 16 or 17 are automatically charged as adults. But anywhere but the U.S. kids can be charged as adults if a judge or prosecutor makes that call. They are much more likely to do so with minorities.>>Prosecutors sometimes want to bring adult charges to appear tough on crime. They think they are going to teach the kid a lesson. They think that if you’re 17 how different is that from being 18? The problem is that all the research shows that trying kids in adult court actually leads to more recidivism and that means more crime, more repeat offenders, more serious offenses.>>[Narrator]: An estimated 5,400 kids sleep in adult jails and prisons on any given night in America. While he could face a decade or more in adult prison if found guilty, Timothy is lucky to be here now. He had been held in New Orleans Parish prison, one of the most violent jails in America.>>[Timothy]: It really like nasty it’s dirty. It’s a bad place.>>[Narrator]: This video was shot by inmates there in 2009.>>[Timothy]: Anything could happen to you over there. You know? It’s not even safe, you know? It’s not a safe environment.>>[Narrator]: Glenn Holt helped lead the effort to bring kids charged as adults to this facility.>>[Glenn]: Well I think what’s different about kids is there’s a willingness to learn. As challenging as they can be on certain days Um…it’s really interesting to watch them grow. You know and mature. And in some cases kinda change right before you. You know I saw some tape the other day I was looking at and I saw you help out staff. That was pretty amazing.>>[Narrator]: The Youth Study Center seem to be doing what juvenile jails are supposed to do, help kids.>>[Leroy]: Alright y’all ready to get started?>>[group]: Yes.>>[Leroy]: Alright so we got 5 words we’re gunna talk about today for the beginning.>>[Narrator]: Leroy Crawford is an assistant superintendent here. He runs a group session called “Inside Out”.>>[Leroy]: Third word?>>[Group]: Family.>>[Leroy]: Fourth word?>>[Group]: Money.>>[Leroy]: And the last word?>>[Group]: Disrespect.>>[Leroy]: So Inside Out was about giving them the opportunity to express themselves without judging them. Travell you speak very well you’re very articulate. So somehow you gotta get the people out there to see that and say I’ve changed. Let them see that who they are is better than what they have done. Or what they have been accused of. We want some success stories at whatever level you are. Keep your paperwork with you and I’m gunna let Tim get the rest.>>[Timothy]: I just feel like I have a purpose to be here. I feel like I’m here to do some good you know? Something positive. Even though I’m in here I can make a change in here you know.>>[Glenn]: So you could do maybe…>>[Narrator]: This juvenile jail may be one of the more progressive in the country. But it wasn’t built out of good will. It took years of litigation over unconstitutional conditions before the city settled and agreed to fix it. It took similar lawsuits to start reforming Ohio’s juvenile justice system. Around the time Savannah was held there, a court appointed monitoring team visited.>>[Interviewer]: What do you think of this place?>>[Savannah]: I think they try to make it a good place.>>[Interviewer]: And do they?>>[Savannah]: They make the difference but not a positive difference.>>[Narrator]: The investigator’s were looking into complaints of abuse by staff and the overuse of solitary confinement.>>[Interviewer]: Well anything else you guys want to tell me? I’m going to follow through on what you’ve said.>>[Narrator]: Kim Tandy, a Cincinnati based attorney spent more than a decade, suing the state of Ohio over conditions.>>[Kim]: We got statements, written statements, by about a dozen kids who were there long term.>>[Narrator]: One of them was Allen.>>[Kim]: He was a bit of a fighter and he was going to tell us what was going on.>>[Allen]: Me and Kim started talking more and more, they started coming more often and I started calling.>>[Kim]: He would call us about other kids. He was a little bit of a protector for other kids.>>[Narrator]: Allen’s testimony helped Kim Tandy build a case against Ohio’s Department of Youth Services. She sued the state and it ultimately settled. Since 2008, the number of kids locked up in Ohio has dropped by almost 70%. 5 juvenile facilities have closed and the state has significantly reduced the use of solitary confinement. Ohio’s Department of Youth Services declined an interview. They said in a statement that they are proud of the reforms that they have made. In New Orleans, a similar reform started 5 years ago. Now kids held here are not allowed to spend more than 8 hours in their cells during the day.>>[Glenn]: So this is a typical room. And we have no solitary confinement. The worst the child could get is to spend 4 to 7 hours in this room and then they’re out.>>[Narrator]: But only 8 states have passed laws that prohibit or limit the use of solitary confinement for kids. Juvenile justice systems in 29 states have been investigated or sued over conditions since 2000. There has been movement to improve the lives of incarcerated children but it’s often been a long battle.>>[Glenn]: You’ll be in court tomorrow. We have the capability of creating more harm than good and really messing a kid up if we don’t do it right. And there are some places in the United States that are messing kids up. Tight end or a tackle? [Laughing] These are kids. And these kids are still growing. These kids are still maturing. We have to hold them accountable but at the same time, they’re not a life wasted. And they’re not a life that doesn’t deserve a chance to grow and mature into a healthy adult.>>[Cory]: I saw the ugly painful side of what this broken system does to so many young people in our country. We put them on a worse track whether it’s putting them in solitary confinement, traumatizing them or putting them on the streets now not able to get a job, to get a student loan, to get a business license to provide for themselves. That road becomes very slippery.>>[Narrator]: About 75% of the kids who spend time in juvenile jail will face new charges 2-3 years after they’re released.>>[Allen]: Once you get into trouble, it’s like you can never escape it again. It’s almost like a curse.>>[Savannah]: It didn’t take me as a kid at 14 it didn’t make me a better kid. No. It definitely did not. I committed a worse crime when I came home.>>[Narrator]: Juvenile justice system is supposed to rehabilitate kids so that they don’t get locked up again. But it failed to do that for Savannah and Allen. Both went to adult jail shortly after leaving Ohio’s kid prisons.>>[Kim]: We’re producing a population of kids who rotate over and over into our juvenile facilities and then into our adult jails.>>[Cory]: And so this just becomes our cycle all the while, consuming tax payer dollars. Eating away at our Public Treasury. Because it costs so much to imprison somebody, to arrest them, to try them. And so we’re just draining that.>>[Narrator]: The Justice Policy Institute estimates that the real price of locking kids up including loss return earnings and tax revenue, could be as high as $21 Billion.>>[Cory]: Recidivism rates in this country are outrageous. You have upwards of 3/4 of the people you’re releasing coming back. That doesn’t make any sense. Smart investments early in the process can help people stay out of prison, save taxpayer money, elevate human achievement and that’s what we should be trying to do.>>[Savannah]: These are my first tattoos. Loyalty and Respect. They always meant a lot. And I got “Civil Savage” on my neck. It’s kinda like an oxymoron. Civil and savage all at the same time. You know.>>[Narrator]: Before Savannah left Ohio’s juvenile justice system, she was trying to make a plan for herself. When she was 19, Savannah requested an early release so she could participate in a program that would help her attend college when she got out.>>[Savannah]: In order for me to participate I would need to have a planned release date prior to December 31, 2012. I really want to take advantage of this program so I hope you will take my request into consideration. I am remorseful for the things that I have done to my community and I would like to be re-known for positive contributions to the community. I respectfully request that this court grant me a judicial release. That was it.>>[Interviewer]: What happened?>>[Savannah]: They denied my release. I was mad but at the same time I was really I never really seen it getting accepted in the first place. So, it wasn’t like I got more time or nothing like that. I wasn’t really banking on an early release.>>[Narrator]: Savannah was released almost 2 years after writing the letter. A few months after being released from kid prison, Savannah says she missed curfew and was arrested on a parole violation. Even though she was originally locked up for juvenile charges. Savannah was now an adult and was sent to the county jail. Savannah is not unique.>>[Linda]: If you take a child and you incarcerate that child for a period of time let’s say 6 months to a year. You might provide them with great treatment in that facility and you might do a lot of really positive things for that youth hopefully while they’re incarcerated. If they come back to the community and they have the same friends, the family has made no changes, they go back to the same school, the same peers; What do you really think the chances are that they’re going to maintain those gains that they made while they were incarcerated?>>You know I had that little nervous stomach cause you heard so many stories when you was locked down, then you get back out here where this s**** really poppin at.>>[Allen]: Once you get in the system once you get put into the system like you stuck. I was telling y’all earlier. Like you stuck.>>[Kim]: I think if Allen wants to do it, he can do anything. He has great potential that he hasn’t begun to realize yet. And so I hope he can put a support system around himself to go back to school, to be gainfully employed, but like many of these kids coming out, he needs a lot of help to do that.>>[Narrator]: When Kim Tandy talks about a support system, she’s talking about things most young people take for granted. A home, a doctor, a parent.>>[Brian]: Being locked up showed me a lot of things. Taught me a lot of things too. When I got out, it was a week later I did just 2 years 14 to 16. A week in I get locked back up. Why? Because this is all I know. So when I get out, what I do? Resort right back to the same things that I kew best.>>[Narrator]: Brian has been able to stay out of jail for the last three years but he struggled with homelessness.>>[Female voice on phone]: How can I help you?>>[Brian]: How you doing? I’m calling to see if y’all have any available beds open?>>[Narrator]: When we first met Brian he and his father were getting along. But a few days after we visited they argued and he wound up on the street.>>[Female voice on phone]: We don’t have any space.>>[Brian]: Alright bye-bye. Just hearing that lady say that there’s no more openings for the shelter that I was trying to go to, it just bummed me out. It just, you know what I’m saying, bummed me out.>>[Stuart]: My experience with almost 100% of the kids in juvenile justice settings come from impoverished and not well functioning homes. Our society has not created an umbrella of services that really addresses those problems. But if you don’t address those problems and they just continue and worsen, then it’s very likely that the kid Is gunna end up in trouble.>>[Brian]: You see where I’m at? You see…my plan is I’m sitting down when I’m done interviewing when y’all done interviewing me This where I’ll be at. Right here. Aint going nowhere.>>[Aisha]:We’re a little early my love.>>[Zion]: Yay we’re early! I like being early.>>[Aisha]: You like to be early?>>[Zion]: Yeah>>[Aisha]: Yeah.>>[Narrator]: Aisha feared her son Zion would be charged with battery after kicking his teacher. But there were no charges. Instead, he was moved to a new school.>>[Zion]: There’s something in this pocket.>>[Aisha]: When you walk in the school, you get searched. You can’t bring book bags, you have to take your shoes off, they pat you. At first, I was very skeptical of it until I saw how happy he became. The couple of days that he was there you know, they talked to him, they understood him. It seemed like they could understand him. That they’ve had kids like him.>>[Belinda]]: Good morning.>>[Students]: Good morning You too. Walk, walk walk, walk… Thank you. Good morning. Pine Ridge is the best kept secret in Broward County. What’s different about it is that we’ve given kids an alternative to a traditional classroom setting. We’ve given them a second chance for whatever reason whether it’s behavior, whether they’ve made a mistake, um whatever the situation is they can come here and we’re not accusing them of anything, we’re not holding that over their head. Good morning. It’s your first day? Okay, right through there.>>[Narrator]: Belinda hope is a principle of Pine Ridge school in Broward County, Florida which houses The Promise Program.>>[Belinda]: A couple years ago Broward County had the highest number of school arrests in Florida. We realized, something had to be done because students were being arrested for things like theft. A cellphone I can return the cellphone and give you strategies instead of messing up your whole life. So that’s how the Promise Program was kind of born from that concept.>>[Narrator]: Instead of being arrested for minor offenses students are being given the choice to participate in the program and their record stays clean.>>Wanna make sure that he’s on track and he’s receiving whatever support systems that we can provide to avoid any future infractions.>>[Elijah]: My name is Elijah Williams. I am a Circuit Court Judge here in Broward County.>>[Narrator]: Judge Elijah Williams helped developed the program.>>[Elijah]: There was a moment in which it hit me that I was locking up more kids than any other judge in the state of Florida. And then, I began to find out about how many kids were trapped where they can’t get any future prospects in terms of education and jobs. So at that point I recognized I needed to find a new direction. Because essentially the more I locked up, the more lives I was destroying. So I’m going to encourage you to ensure that he has a future without the mark of an arrest on his record to participate in this program. You have to make a distinction between those kids that scare you and those kids that make you angry. If you’re the child that likes to write on our bathroom walls, if you’re the type of child who likes to smoke marijuana, those are things that make all of us angry. But those are not things that scare us. So those particular individuals should be not arrested, placed into a program and dealt with from a treatment standpoint.>>Does that make you feel better?>>[Girl speaking]: Yes.>>[Belinda]: The counseling is kinda the foundation of it because what we found are so many other things that are going on. A lot of times these kids are crying out for help and don’t know how.>>You guys know new people my name is Mrs. Kholo and I’ll be your teacher for the duration you’re in Promise.>>[Belinda]: They have a full class schedule where they’re given different strategies just to help them make better decisions. And to help them understand how this could affect the rest of their life.>>Do you do drugs normally?>>[Male voice]: No.>>So what made you do it? Make me understand what you were thinking.>>[Male voice]: We can’t.>>You can’t. So it was a mistake?>>[Narrator]: Students can come to the Promise Program for things like fighting, theft and drug use at school. Most kids are here a few days, before going back to their regular classrooms.>>Kids make mistakes and that’s what it means to be a kid. We make mistakes that I don’t think if we make one mistake one day, I don’t think it should ruin your entire future.>>[Narrator]: Since the Promise Program started in 2013, the number of school arrests in Broward County has dropped by 51%.>>[Male Teacher]: Ok who can tell me where do we start off?>>[Zion]: Name and date.>>[Male teacher]: Name and date beautiful.>>[Aisha]: They were so loveable at the Promise Program.>>[Male Teacher]: Zion>>[Zion]: He goes to baseball.>>[Male Teacher]: He’s gunna go to baseball.>>[Aisha]: He felt understood.>>[Narrator]: After spending a few days in the program school administrators decided to keep Zion long term to help with his behavior issues.>>[Female teacher]: What type of words, words that we…>>Zion’s my little buddy. Zion comes in with the mainframe, “I’m really gunna try my best to be good today, I’m really gunna do everything that I can. But something inside of me is telling me no don’t do it, no. Be bad, be aggressive, hit people. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. See I don’t like when you talk like that Stop. Stop.>>[Zion]: Get off of me.>>[Zion]: I don’t.>>[Aisha]: Okay but you can’t do that.>>[Narrator]: Even though Zion had a rough day, his teacher manages the situation without calling the police. A reminder that often solving problems doesn’t require law enforcement.>>[Aisha]: Why don’t you go wash your face. I know my son better than anybody and I see it.>>[Teacher]: You want to give me a hug?>>[Zion]: Yeah.>>[Teacher]: It’s alright. It’s not you.>> Some of your senators are in this school, the next judge could be in this school. You don’t know what these students can become and we’ve already labeled them because they’ve decided maybe that these kids aren’t worth it. They are. You should see them.They’re beautiful, they have beautiful hearts.>>[Woman on loud speaker]: Ms. King can you please come to the office. Ms King.>>[Elijah]: I often times hear people say that our children are our future. I don’t like that statement. I think we adults are the future. I think that unless we create the proper enviornment unless we create the proper future for our children, they won’t be our future.>>[Narrator]: Brian reconciled with his dad but remains homeless. He’s gone back to school to get his G.E.D.>>[Brian]: I’m gunna break the cycle. And I’m gunna get up on my feet. And I’m gunna have better things than my parents. I’m going to break it. I’m going to break the chain because I feel like I need to.>>[Senator Booker]: Nothing will change unless we do. And if we cant raise the conscious of our country the moral imagination that we are better than this and get more people to get engaged because this is not one of those big issues. You’re not going to see this leading the headlines on the evening news or you poll people in this next presidential election will this be one of the big…it won’t be. But this is one of these issues that we as a country have to say: “This is not us.”>>[Narrator]: Savannah went to county jail on a parole violation after leaving juvenile prison.>>[Girl]: Get me get me!>>[Savannah]: You know you’re not supposed to be doing that.>>[Narrator]: Since being released from jail she’s picked up a new charge.>>[Savannah]: They read my whole juvenile record in there. They started, you know from 2005. So I was like, I didn’t even know that they would do something like that.>>[Narrator]: She’s facing a harsher sentence because of her juvenile record.>>[Linda]: Quite frankly if locking a child up taught them a lesson so they’d never commit a crime, we would be the safest country in the world because we lock up so many children. But clearly experience shows that doesn’t work. It’s not teaching them a lesson. It’s not getting them on the right path.>>[Narrator]: A few months after our interview we visited Allen again. Kim Tandy had offered him the chance to join a re-entry program in Cincinnati four hours away from home.>>[Allen]: So when I talked to her today and we uh talked about maybe going tomorrow or something. Go out there, see what it’s like, see what I can make happen.>>[Narrator]: Allen still hasn’t gone.>>[Cory]: I have known so many of these young kids who have beauty and strength and potential that we’re wasting and squandering. I don’t want to be in the country that leads the globe, the planet earth in incarceration.>>[Narrator]: Zion went through a serious of brain scans this summer. He got a new diagnosis. Intermittent seizures.>>[Aisha]: What it is basically he gets so overwhelmed that it needs to come out. Kinda like Tourette’s Syndrom. It builds up and it has to come out and then they feel much better afterwards.>>[Narrator]:Zion is on new medication and is doing better. He started at the same school in August.>>[Aisha]: I want him to be able to do whatever he wants. Whatever he wants, whatever he likes, he should be able to. Anything that he did in elementary school I don’t think it should matter. And he’s really trying really hard.>>[Zion]: God help me.>>[Aisha]: You know I’m proud of you right?>>[Zion]: Yeah.>>[Aisha]: Yeah. I love you.>>[Zion]: I love you too.