Us & Them Explores Juvenile Justice Divides

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Every year West Virginia children are taken into state custody. Sometimes, a case involves parental neglect or drug abuse. Other times, kids commit crimes and are placed in juvenile residential facilities.

The juvenile justice programs and agencies have been under a spotlight over the past decade — partly because West Virginia has had one of the highest rates of juvenile incarceration in the country. Lawmakers have passed bills to reform the system but the outcome is mixed.

Meanwhile, juvenile incarceration means the system makes decisions for kids — and those changes can last a lifetime.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the CRC Foundation.

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Geard Mitchell

Louis Mitchell

Geard Mitchell (19) knows West Virginia’s juvenile system first hand. He spent nearly three years in the Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Center in Julian, W.Va. Mitchell, who now lives in Brooklyn, NY, is one of 12 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the State of West Virginia. The plaintiffs argue the state violated the rights of children by failing to plan appropriately for juveniles in state custody.
Donald R. Kuhn Center

Trey Kay

This is the exterior of the Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Center in Julian, W.Va.
Trey Kay - Donald R. Kuhn Center

Laura Rigell

Trey Kay is in Boone County, W.Va. standing on the shoulder of U.S. Route 119 in front of the Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Center.
Ronda Lehman

Trey Kay

Ronda Lehman has been the coordinator of Teen Court in Jefferson County, W.Va. since 2013. There are currently about 16 other Teen Courts in the State of West Virginia.



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