Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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With Severe Budget Deficits, Florida DJJ May Be Forced to Close Several Facilities, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Facing a budget shortfall to the tune of $54.5 million, Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) may end up closing some detention centers to cover its losses.

Earlier this summer, the state DJJ was hit hard by a Court of Appeals ruling, which found that the department had overcharged counties. As a result, a large percentage of county-level juvenile justice costs were shifted towards the state, which now assumes an additional $35.5 million in costs. Making matters worse, new Medicaid guidelines, which denied matching grant money for DJJ-operated residential facilities, resulted in the DJJ losing $19 million in federal funding.

Earlier this month, Florida DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, urging legislators for an earlier release of general revenue and to delay “implementation of non-critical contracts” as a means of offsetting some of the department’s deficits. Even so, the department would still require a loan from the state if payments from counties were lower than expected.

State officials to visit Avon Park riot site, Fox News


Teen detainees at the Avon Park Youth Academy in Polk County threw televisions off rooftops, trashed furniture and burned the office that held the records over the weekend.

In the aftermath, state and county officials disagree whether the facility’s staff was equipped to handle such a situation.

The school is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice and is used as a rehabilitation and vocational school for moderate-risk young offenders.

Authorities say the majority of the school’s students participated in the riot, which started just before 9 p.m. and quickly spiraled out of control.

The academy houses 138 kids. The more co-operative ones stayed at the facility to help clean up. The ones suspected of starting and participating in the incident were moved to Polk County’s South County Jail in Frostproof.

Monday, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said the situation could have been kept under control if the staffers were equipped and allowed to use pepper spray.

Special Victims: Law, Order and India’s Children, DNA India

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”, saidNelson Mandela. If that’s true, India needs to do some urgent soul searching. Nowhere is our attitude to children better reflected than in the way our systems of law and order treat them. 63 years after our Constitution recognised them as equal citizens, 39 years after we adopted our first National Policy for Children and 21 years after we ratified the UN Child Rights Convention (CRC), we have yet to agree on a uniform definition of who exactly is a child. Definitions vary depending on whether it’s marriage, work, education, sexual offences, culpability for crimes, adoption or inheritance that’s at issue.

Few children of the elite or the middle-class in India have the opportunity to interact officially with the police, the judiciary or the alphabet soup of entities labelled CWCJAPUAHTUJJBNCLP,CARASFCACSCPS or NCPCR For the estimated 176 millionchildren who are homeless, orphaned, abandoned, abused, trafficked, bonded, illegally employed, lost, refugees, displaced, accused of a crime or simply poor, on the other hand, the forces of law and order are omnipresent determinants of their fates.

Illinois Law Takes Child Support From Casino Winnings, CBS St. Louis

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – A new Illinois law will strip deadbeat parents of their gambling winnings.

Casinos and racetracks will be required to garnish the winnings of any parents who are behind on child support. The proceeds would be turned over to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to be distributed to the families.

“When anyone wins over $1,200, it will be required under the law to check that against our real-time database,” said State Sen. Darrin LaHood (R-Dunlap), sponsor of the bill.

LaHood estimates that the law will bring in as much as $1 million in its first year. Kelly Jakubek of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services says it will help make a dent in the state’s $3.1 billion backlog of unpaid child support.


Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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As Prisons Prepare for PREA, Impact on Youthful Inmates May Be Major, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

In 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) — a federal legislative proposal that sought to curb incidents of sexual assault in both adult prisons and juvenile detention facilities — was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The newly formed National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) was then tasked with establishing PREA standards; ultimately, nine years would pass before the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the final standards set forth by the NPREC.

Regarding juvenile offenders, PREA Standard 115.14, also known as the “Youthful Inmate Standard,” is perhaps the most significant aspect of the federal legislation. Under PREA, adult facilities holding inmates under the age of 18 are required to implement policies that guarantee the segregation of minors from older prisoners — a practice commonly referred to as “sight and sound separation.” Among other provisions, PREA prevents facilities from placing minors in cells with adult inmates, calls for constant supervision of juveniles in adult correctional facilities and limits the use of isolation as a penalty for young inmates.

‘Smart on Crime’ Calls for Leniency for Youth Offenders, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

From The Chicago Bureau: 

In a bid to decongest the nation’s overpopulated prisons, the Obama administration has proposed leniency for certain drug cases, a move with uncertain consequences for juvenile inmates.

The president’s new Smart on Crime initiative has received national attention since Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced the policy at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco on Monday.

The initiative – highlighted by an easing of mandatory minimum sentencing laws for low-level drug cases – could help reduce the booming prison population. But it’s unclear what impact that will have on the country’s juvenile incarceration rate, the highest of any industrialized nation.

“This is all great language, but in terms of what reforms (Holder’s) proposing and how they will reduce juvenile incarceration – it’s an open question,” said Antonio Ginatta, Human Rights Watch advocacy director of the U.S. Program . “The real action needs to occur in state legislatures and in Congress.”

“Long story short, he identifies the right issues, but I don’t know if he has all the tools necessary to make the changes.”

Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Photograph courtesy of http://www.hngn.com/articles/10029/20130814/dyslexia-study-brains-scans-predict-pre-school-children.htm.

Dyslexia Researchers Launch Multicultural-Outreach Effort, Education Week

Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, the co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, based at Yale University, and longtime researchers of the reading disorder, have started a campaign to bring greater awareness of dyslexia to communities of color.

The Multicultural Dyslexia Awareness Initiative had its first meeting earlier this month, honoring well-known people with dyslexia, such as actor and activist Harry Belafonte and author Victor Villaseñor. The initiative plans to hold more meetings across the country in coming months, Sally Shaywitz said in a conversation with Education Week. Too many children, she said, learn that they have dyslexia almost by accident, after years of struggling with school.

Dyslexia Study: Brain Scans Can Predict Dyslexia in Pre-School Children, Headlines & Global News

A new study suggests that MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging may be used for early detection of a disorder that affects the developmental reading skills of a person making it difficult to read and interpret letter ands symbols or most commonly known as “dyslexia” among pre-school children.

Elizabeth Norton, PhD, lead author of the study from the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research and her colleagues said that the results of this research could lead to rapid identification and solution for the roughly 10 percent of U.S. kids known to have developmental dyslexia.

The study participants consists of 40 pre-reading and early-reading kids with ages between four and six who had been identified to have smaller left arcuate fasciculus and who scored lower on phonological assessments. The left arcuate fasciculus attaches brain areas activated in speech and language processes.

Norton and her team also invited kids from a wider study of reading development in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to join in the brain study. The 52 eligible kids can speak American English natively and completed 36 weeks age of gestation before birth. They also had no sensory difficulties but make use of glasses. They haven’t taken nervous system medications, had no neurological or other developmental diagnoses and have standard IQ scores. Twelve scans were discarded thus decreasing the samples to 40.

New Mexico boy set to go to court in dad’s killing, US News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The 10-year-old New Mexico boy lived in an abusive, filthy home and had tried desperately to get help to stop the beatings he and his younger siblings had for years faced at the hands of their abusive father, his attorney says.

Then, one day in 2009, prosecutors say, he put a gun to the head of his 250-pound father and killed him at their Belen, N.M., home.

After years of stops and starts, the boy is scheduled to face a jury this month for first-degree murder in a rare prosecution expected to highlight the debate over whether children that young are capable of the pre-meditation required for such a serious charge. Experts say the boy, now 14 and living in Oklahoma, is just one of a handful of very young children in the nation’s history to face such a conviction.

“I’ve been practicing law for 20 years and this is the saddest case I’ve ever seen,” said the boy’s attorney, William J. Cooley. “I don’t know why this is even going to court.”