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She also criticized the organizational structure of the court, according to the AP, in which “the probation officer acts as both an arm of the prosecution as well as a child advocate.” That setup is “contrary to separation of powers principles,” Gupta wrote.

Sadly, criminal justice experts say the problem is not isolated to St. Louis.

“If you were to drop in on juvenile courts around the country today, in many places you would see the same things,” Mary Ann Scali, deputy director of the National Juvenile Defenders Center, an advocacy group whose research on Missouri helped prompt the Justice Department investigation, told The New York Times. “Children who get arrested in this country quite often don’t get access to counsel.”

Obama and Scali may not know each other but they are both working diligently to expose racial discrimination in America’s judicial system and pushing for criminal justice reform.

Unfortunately, politics always gets in the way. Congress will ultimately need to pass legislation to bring about substantial criminal justice reform. But with Republican legislators torpedoing Obama’s legislative agenda at every opportunity, I don’t see GOP lawmakers coming together anytime soon to address the racial inequities in America’s legal system.

What do you think?

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U.S. Justice Department Says St. Louis Family Court Discriminates Against Black Teens  was originally published on

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