Steven Yoder

Steven Yoder has written about criminal justice and other domestic policy issues for Salon, Al Jazeera America, The Fiscal Times, and others—online at @syodertweets.

Recent Articles

Closing the Door on Juvenile Lockups

States have been scaling back their juvenile prisons and allowing troubled youth to stay in their communities. But without money and oversight, local control could fall far short of real reform.

(AP Photo/Dale Atkins)
Fifteen-year-old Frank and his brother Joseph had gotten into fights before, but this one was different. When the two started throwing punches one day in December 2008, their mother Nancy tried to intervene. Frank responded by hitting and kicking her, and then pinned her head against the wall. Ordinarily, that would have landed Frank in a juvenile jail. Instead, he was sentenced to 18 months probation and enrollment in a New York City program cheerily named Blue Sky , a joint venture of the city and a local nonprofit that provides targeted therapy for Frank and his family at home. Today, Frank goes to school and works part time, and his aggressive behavior, according to program staff, is a thing of the past. Across the country, states are moving delinquent youth out of huge juvenile lockups and, in the best cases, into local alternative programs like Blue Sky. That trend represents a hard-won victory for advocates of reform. But local control sometimes comes with pitfalls that some...

Prisoner's Dilemma

Some states are looking to end policies that allow prisoners to accrue child-support debt while in prison and have most of their wages garnished when they get out -- policies that drive many ex-prisoners to re-offend.

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
As the budget debate unfolds over the next several months, the focus will likely be on big-ticket items like Social Security and Medicare and how they will affect the deficit. Inevitably lost in the high-stakes wrangling are the many small-bore programs that have a significant impact on individual Americans. To wit: President Barack Obama's 2012 budget contains a proposal -- on page 279 of an attachment to the main document -- that would end draconian state-level policies that force low-income fathers convicted of crimes to continue paying child support while in prison, leaving them saddled with debt they will never be able to pay once they're released. Melissa Lindsay knows exactly how that will affect the people she works with at the Ohio Poverty Law Center in Columbus, Ohio. An attorney and fellow of the nonprofit Equal Justice Works, she counsels ex-prisoners on how to get beyond the hurdles set up by state-level child-support policies, which often land them back in prison. The...