Mae C. Quinn


Part II of this Article examines some of the most well-known claims about the Missouri Model of juvenile justice, clarifying that the positive press to date actually describes only one small component of the larger juvenile justice structure: Missouri’s system of residential correction for state-placed adjudicated youth. And while that system has much to admire and replicate, it also has room for improvement In Part III, this Article fills in what has been left out of most public and press stories about Missouri’s larger youth justice system. That is, despite mostly glowing media accounts, Missouri’s at-risk youth are poorly served by several overlapping broken entities. It focuses first on Missouri’s failing education system, which is made worse by punitive policing and push-out practices. It then examines Missouri’s conflicted and outdated juvenile court system, a structure that appears to be unconstitutional in its entirety. It describes Missouri’s nearly non-existent indigent juvenile defense system, a system that has resulted in young people all too frequently defending themselves in Missouri’s courts. Finally, it explains how children are too easily sent to Missouri’s adult prisons – many banished to die there without anyone ever hearing their stories. Part IV calls upon stakeholders to move beyond the rhetoric and own up to the ways in which the state is failing its most needy children. By meaningfully implementing Miller’s evolving standards mandate for every child – no matter when, where, or to whom they were born – we can begin to deliver true juvenile justice. And in the days that follow Missouri might actually become a model system, one that is committed to a single vision of common decency – and hope – for all of its children.

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