Tuesday’s Children & the Law News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reformed, Youngstown News

In February 2004, the detention hall at the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center housed kids two to a room, and the population crept toward 90 in a facility with 40 rooms.  It was in this environment that a 17-year-old teenager was raped by his cell mate, who purportedly was a known sexual predator.

Court Administrator Anthony D’Apolito, also a magistrate, took his post in 2006, near the end of the cases. One of the first changes he made was to ban double-bunking in the center. “I never wanted to ever have an opportunity for that to happen again,” he said of the rape.

Now, the average population in the center is 32.  D’Apolito receives daily reports from the detention center, which is part of the juvenile court complex on the East Side. A juvenile can stay in detention for one day if committed on a “status offense,” such as truancy, curfew violation or unruly juvenile. The average stay is 9 days compared with 25 days in 2006, D’Apolito said.

Bring Campus Crimes Reports Out in the Open, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The campuses of private colleges are islands of invisible crime, black boxes where even violent offenses can largely disappear from public view. The public can find out more about an assault in a private homeowner’s living room than about an assault on the quad at Notre Dame.

Court Orders University to be Notified of Child Porn Charges Against Student, NBC10 Philadelphia

A court ruling against a Lehigh County teen charged with downloading child pornography is sparking controversy.  Police found child pornography on the 17-year-old boy’s laptop in 2010. The teen had just graduated from high school and was planning on attending Temple University when he admitted to one count of sexual abuse of children, a felony. The teen’s lawyer, Gavin Holohan, tells NBC10 his client obeys the rules of his probation and has learned from his mistakes.

Alone in the American Legal System: It’s Up to Us to Help Undocumented Children, The Oregonian

A recent article in The New York Times described the crisis of undocumented children in Texas facing deportation. The story began with Juan, a 6-year-old so small he couldn’t be seen over the courtroom bench when he stood to appear before the judge.

Children in Portland who have a legitimate path to legal status are being deported all the time. Pro-bono attorneys can’t take all of these cases by themselves. There are too many children, and there are real costs associated with competent representation. These children are going through our courts, and how we treat and handle them is our local responsibility.

While we may disagree with our immigration system, we cannot penalize these children for those failings. We cannot continue to allow children to be deported simply because they do not have access to legal counsel.

Teen’s Try for Green Card is Denied, Lexington Clipper-Herald

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday blocked a teenager’s bid to get an immigration green card based on being abandoned by his father.  The youngster, identified in the ruling only as Erick M., had hoped to qualify for “special immigrant juvenile” status under federal law.

Education and Immigration

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/03/national/03arizona.html?_r=0

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Alabama’s immigration law requiring public schools to check the citizenship status of new students was unconstitutional. The Court maintained that the provision singles out children who are in the country illegally, and keeps undocumented children from enrolling and attending school.

School officials reported that the parents of undocumented children did in fact stop sending their children to class once the law was enacted, and some even moved from the state.

Alabama is among many other states that have recently passed anti-illegal immigration laws. Ultimately, the court only struck down part of Alabama’s immigration law, and upheld parts of the law allowing the police to check documents for people they stop.

Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley expresses that “The core of Alabama’s immigration law remains that if you live or work in the state, you should do so legally… It is time now to move past court battles and focus on enforcement of Alabama’s law.” Although Gov. Robert Bentley disagrees with the Court’s ruling, he maintains that the court upheld the “essence” of the law.

On the contrary, Omar Jadwat, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney explained that the judges struck down the law pretty forcefully and were opposed to the idea of self-deportation by making the lives of undocumented immigrants very difficult.

For more information check out “Ala schools can’t check student immigration status; police can ask for suspects’ papers” by Bill Barrow and Jay Reeves, The StarTribune.

Minorities, Immigration & Educational Policy in the News

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/03/national/03arizona.html?_r=0

Education Week Snippet: “White House Initiative Targets Education for African Americans” by Lesli A. Maxwell.

President Obama signed an executive order to launch the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The purpose of the initiative is to help high-school and college-bound African Americans by creating “greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born all through the time they get a career.”

Click here to see full article for a list of the initiative’s specific goals and more information.

U.S. News and World Report Snippet: “States’ DREAM Acts Could Deter High School Dropouts” by Kelsey Sheehy.

“The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act [or DREAM Act] provides a path to citizenship for undocumented students who entered the U.S. as children if they graduate from high school, earn a GED, or are accepted to or enrolled in college.

However, the newest version of the DREAM Act does not provide federal financial aid to undocumented students, and allows states to choose whether undocumented students qualify for in-state college tuition rates. Thus far, eleven states have opted to enact their own versions of the DREAM Act and allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities including: Texas, New York, California, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Connecticut.

Educational scholars suggest that providing undocumented students with eligibility for in-state tuition rates through the DREAM Act makes college more affordable. Making college a more attainable goal for students will motivate them to stay in school and deter dropouts.

Click here to see the full article for more information.