For children in the United States, justice often depends on where you live, the color of your skin, which police officer arrests you, or which judge, prosecutor or probation officer happens to be involved in your case.
Listen to our seven-part podcast series, which follows the path that America's kids take through the juvenile justice system, from childhood to freedom.
Watch the videos, produced virtually through video conferencing, to see an intimate view of juvenile justice in America.
After decades of police reform, kids of color are still vastly overrepresented in arrests and police use of force. The little to no youth-specific training in most law enforcement departments in the U.S. fuels this, experts say.
Public schools continue to feed the school-to-prison pipeline through suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests. Kids suffer the consequences.
Both systems are meant to support the nation’s most vulnerable children, but by working in silos experts say they push kids from one system to the other.
At-risk children across the U.S. are exposed to a variety of factors that increase their likelihood of joining a gang, which leads to higher rates of imprisonment and violence.
For-profit companies make millions every year with the promise of safely rehabilitating kids in the juvenile justice system, but many kids say they leave worse than when they came in.
Youth can face very different outcomes throughout the juvenile justice system depending on the state or the county where they live.
Tens of thousands of kids are prosecuted as adults each year, and some serve out their sentences in prisons where most of the inmates are adults.
Teenagers and youth across the country commit the same types of crime, but disparities affecting young people of color have continued to grow.
Burdened by generations of historical trauma, Native youth navigate a convoluted justice system that few other children face.
Harsh school environments and disciplinary practices often leave children with learning and behavioral disabilities more likely to be suspended, fall behind in schools and enter the juvenile justice system.
Because of vague and inconsistent regulations, the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people in the juvenile justice system vary dramatically across the country.
Detention is supposed to rehabilitate kids, but many are abused at the hands of staff members tasked with protecting them.
Data shows a decline in juvenile facility sexual assaults since 2012, but the number of incidents that go unreported make experts wonder whether enough is being done.
Despite denouncements of the practice, solitary confinement is still used in nearly every state, putting juveniles at risk for physical and psychological harm.
Some juvenile offenders live in prisonlike conditions that often are cramped, unsanitary, archaic and poorly ventilated, affecting their health and welfare.
The lack of consistent and uniform policies, along with a dearth of available data, conceal how – or if – young people learn in juvenile detention facilities.
COVID-19 affects the juvenile justice system with a rising number of positive cases, as juvenile detention facilities evolve their health care protocols to help slow its spread.
Kids in the juvenile justice system struggle with mental health issues at a rate over four times higher than the general youth population, yet they often don’t receive much-needed treatment.
Incarceration as a juvenile, whether for weeks or years, has a lasting impact on a former offender’s life long after their release to society.
Darren McCracken, 14, was tried as an adult for murdering his mother and sentenced to life without possibility of parole. He’s free now, but is struggling to find his way in a world vastly different.
Terrence Sampson was 12 when he murdered his friend and neighbor, Kelly Brumbelow, 31 years ago in Texas. He spent decades in prison. Now he's free. Kelly’s mother has forgiven him.
Imprisoning children leaves families burdened with court fees, fines and extra costs, including lifelong emotional trauma that can tear families apart.
Dig deeper into the juvenile justice system in our Extras section. Fellows wrote 35 additional background and data-driven stories, including reporting on innovative solutions.
“Kids Imprisoned,” an investigation into juvenile justice in America, is the 2020 project of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a multimedia reporting project produced by the country’s top journalism students and graduates.
Prisonlike facilities. Racial disparities. Employee abuse.
Follow the path of America’s kids in the justice system.
By Katherine Sypher and Anthony J. Wallace
By Kimberly Rapanut, Brody Ford, Morgan Wallace, Kelsey Collesi and Jeff Uveino
By Daja E. Henry, Patrick Linehan, Gabriela Szymanowska, Chloe Jones and Brody Ford
By Chloe Jones, Calah Schlabach and Daja E. Henry
By José-Ignacio Castañeda Perez, Matthew Hendley, Byron Mason II and Braela Kwan
By Franco LaTona and Jos Fox
By Sorell Grow, Delia C. Johnson, Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, Jill Ryan, Ike Somanas and Gretchen Lasso
By Delia C. Johnson and Jill Ryan
By Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, Nicole Sroka and Victoria Traxler
By Calah Schlabach, José-Ignacio Castañeda Perez, Matthew Hendley and Layne Dowdall
By Daja E. Henry and Kimberly Rapanut
By Molly Kruse, Braela Kwan, Abigail Hall and Jana Allen
By Franco LaTona and Victoria Traxler
By Jana Allen, Layne Dowdall, Haillie Parker and Chloe Johnson
By Layne Dowdall, Jos Fox and Chloe Johnson
By Morgan Wallace, James Wooldridge and Ike Somanas
By Kimberly Rapanut, Patrick Linehan, Gabriela Szymanowska, Brody Ford and Kelsey Collesi
By Gabriela Szymanowska, Gretchen Lasso, Delia C. Johnson and Chloe Johnson
By Lindsey Nichols, Haillie Parker and Molly Kruse
By Sorell Grow, Jeff Uveino, Nicole Sroka and James Wooldridge
By Ike Somanas, Morgan Wallace and James Wooldridge
By Jill Ryan
By Lindsey Nichols, Michele Abercrombie, Jos Fox and Anthony J. Wallace