Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

New Report Reveals Sexual Victimization Rates in U.S. Juvenile Facilities, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has released a new report detailing rates of sexual victimization in the nation’s juvenile facilities.

The report, incorporating data from the 2012 National Survey of Youth in Custody, found that nearly one in 10 young people in state-operated or state-contracted juvenile facilities reported at least one sexual victimization incident last year. Approximately 2.5 percent of youth in juvenile facilities reported victimization at the hands of fellow inmates, the report states, while 7.7 percent of survey takers said they had experienced sexual abuse from facility staffers. Of the 7.7 percent, 3.5 percent of young people in juvenile facilities reported being coerced into sexual contact by staff or other facility personnel.

New Law Cracks Down on Underage Tobacco Users, Foxreno.com

CARSON CITY — Underage smoker should beware with Gov. Brian Sandoval signing into law a bill that will help crack down on underage tobacco users in Nevada.

Beginning in October of this year, Nevada counties will have the option to adopt ordinances that would impose fines on individuals under the age of 18 for the possession or use of tobacco products. Senate Bill 177 was introduced by Senator James Settelmeyer of Minden. The only legislator to vote nay on the measure was Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks.

If enacted, the law will allow county juvenile courts to impose a fine of $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second and $75 for third and subsequent offenses. A third offense may also result in the suspension or delay of issuance of a child’s driver’s license for a period of 30 to 90 days. Counties will also have the option of ordering offenders to attend a tobacco awareness and cessation program.

Handicapping Potential Special Session Topics: Capital Sentencing for 17-Year Olds and Cellphone Privacy, Grits for Breakfast

Grits has heard second-hand rumors now from a couple of sources that Governor Rick Perry will likely soon add a handful of additional issues to the special session call, though no one can say whether they will include the red-meat topics for which Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was hoping.

On the criminal-justice front, statehouse handicappers seem to think the most likely topic to make the cut to be adapting Texas law to comply with US Supreme Court rulings regarding sentences for 17-year old capital murderers. Regular readers will recall that by eliminating the death penalty and life without parole (at least as the only punishment option) for juveniles, SCOTUS effectively eliminated all available punishments on the books in Texas for capital murder committed by 17 year olds, who under Texas law are treated as adults. Legislation filed by Sen. Joan Huffman this session (SB 187, since re-filed as SB 23) would have added the option of life with the chance of parole to LWOP – a sentencing structure that would apply solely to 17-year old defendants, who would be treated differently from both 16 and 18 year olds charged with capital murder.

 

Megan Mikutis

About Megan Mikutis

Megan Mikutis is a second year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from the University of Houston – Clear Lake in 2012 with a B.A. in Literature. While obtaining her undergraduate degree, Megan tutored undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students in writing while working for the University of Houston – Clear Lake Writing Center. This summer, Megan worked for the Center for Children, Law, and Policy and had the opportunity to compose a policy statement discussing the disproportionate representation of Limited English Proficient students in special education. Currently, Megan serves as the President of the Student Bar Association as well as a member of the Hispanic Law Student Association. Megan is most interested in education and special education issues.

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