Liberals and conservatives in Virginia have come together to try to convince lawmakers to change policies that have made that state No. 1 in the country for juvenile arrests and incarceration.
The coalition, Rise for Youth, which consists of civil rights, religious and fiscal-reform activists, wants schools to stop using the justice system to handle minor misbehavior, and hopes to reduce the number of kids being sent to youth prisons.
Among their recommendations is to exempt children from disorderly conduct criminal codes while at school and to reform the state’s mandatory felony larceny charge that must be imposed for the theft of anything worth $200 or more, even when the offenders are children.
In 2014, 34.4% of juveniles sentenced to a correctional center were there for non-person crimes, such as theft, and 11.4% were there for misdemeanor offenses, according to Juvenile Justice Reform in Virginia report (pdf).