The Plain Dealer and have launched a new series called "Delinquent: Our System, Our Kids," in which two reporters examine how Cuyahoga County's juvenile justice system works through the eyes of young people who go through it.  

In Cuyahoga County, responses to youth crime have historically been rooted in outdated “tough-on-crime” policies and practices. This has led to the over-criminalization and mass incarceration of society’s most vulnerable people – children. At the ACLU of Ohio, we believe all children have the capacity to change and are deserving of second chances.  

The reporters, John Tucker and Kaitlin Durbin, will publish articles on this broad topic for the next six weeks, highlighting youth from the Cuyahoga County juvenile court system who share their stories in interviews. 

Without flinching from the harm caused, the series discusses the historical neglect, poverty and trauma plaguing so many of our justice-involved youth, the lack of positive role models, how behaviors and risk-taking escalates and the impact of increasing access to guns. Importantly, the coverage noted the developing brains of teens which impacts their thinking and behaviors and underscored the challenges with treatment programs and other efforts intended to prevent youth from going deeper into the system. 

The main question this reporting aims to tackle is: If Cuyahoga County’s juvenile system is designed to rehabilitate and divert young offenders from crime, is it working? And, at what point did it potentially fail the kids who are in Ohio’s adult prisons today? 

ACLU of Ohio, along with Children’s Law Center and the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University formed the Greater CLE Youth Justice Collective. Each week, we’ll be sharing a video with “our take” on these articles and a simple call to action to support our youth and reform the justice system in Northeast Ohio. Our goal is to shed light on this critical issue and shift the narrative around justice-involved youth.  

Calls to Action: