Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Texas House, Senate to Debate Juvenile Justice Bill Thursday,

The Texas House and Senate will each take up a juvenile justice bill Thursday that would change how 17-year-olds who are convicted of capital crimes are sentenced.

Right now, people who are convicted of a capital offense that was committed at the age of 17 are only eligible for two sentences under Texas law – death or the possibility of life without parole.

But a Supreme Court decision last year said that only allowing juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, and because of that decision, the Texas law needs to be changed.


NY Juvenile Age Should Be Raised, Group Says, Beaumont Enterprise

NEW YORK (AP) — Every year, nearly 50,000 children arrested, charged and processed in New York are done so as adults — and a new coalition of advocates and lawmakers wants to change that.

The coalition of about two dozen groups launched a statewide public information campaign Thursday to change the way the state handles 16- and 17-year-old defendants, said Jennifer March-Joly, one of the coalition’s organizers and the executive director of Citizens’Committee for Children of New York.


Juvenile Records Will Soon Become More Difficult for the Public to View,

Jeramie Shemonia spent months trying to find a job and land an apartment. Some interviews went very well for the 18-year-old, but then weeks passed without a return phone call.

Shemonia was shocked to find out later that a quick computer search of his criminal background repeatedly shut the door before he had a chance to tell his story. More than a year ago, an alcohol-related incident with a roommate ended in three felony charges. Shemonia pleaded guilty to one minor assault count and the others were dismissed.

In the future, a new state law will limit public access to nonviolent crime records for 16- and 17-year-olds. It’s part of a comprehensive legislative effort to get offenders such as Shemonia past a permanent roadblock that often leads back to a jail cell.


Federal Judge will hear arguments on Michigan gay marriage ban, adoption in October, Detroit Free Press

A federal judge says he’ll hear arguments Oct. 1 on the legality of Michigan’s ban on gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

Judge Bernard Friedman set the date Wednesday in what could be a ground-breaking lawsuit filed by two Detroit-area nurses who are lesbians.

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer and three adopted children live under one roof in Hazel Park. But Michigan law bars the women from jointly adopting each other’s kids.

Esther Kim

About Esther Kim

Esther Kim is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduate from Wesleyan University in 2007 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a focus in Chinese Language and Literature. As an undergraduate, she worked one summer at the Citizens' Committee for Children, New York, a child advocacy organization, where she developed an interest in children's rights, community after-school resources, and immigration. Esther has recently been selected to be an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation, at Lone Star Legal Aid, where she will be working closely with Asian victims of domestic violence in Harris and Fort Bend Counties.

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