In December, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio met with youth offenders at alternative housing on Rikers Island. A new state proposal would spare teens younger than 18 from serving time in adult prisons. Susan Watts/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Susan Watts/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A 12-year-old on trial in the stabbing death of a 9-year-old talks to his lawyer in 2014 in a Michigan circuit court. The Justice Department is targeting a Georgia case in the hopes of making legal representation for juveniles there more effective, but they say the problems occur nationwide. Chris Clark/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Clark/Landov

An inmate at Rikers Island juvenile detention facility carries a plastic fork behind his back as he walks with other inmates. A recent report found that juvenile detainees are subjected to routine violence, both by other inmates and by correction officers. Julie Jacobson/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Julie Jacobson/AP

Juvenile wing of the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana. In Memphis, the juvenile court system was criticized for inadequate defense of their clients and treating minority children more harshly. Richard Ross/Juvenile In Justice hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Ross/Juvenile In Justice