Monday’s Children & the Law News Roundup

Rules Aim At Law Guardians and Conflicts of Interest, Times Union

On Oct. 17, Karen Peters, the new presiding justice of the Appellate Division‘s Third Department, ordered restrictions that prohibit the law guardians from holding full-time jobs with “any government agency” within the 23-county department unless they receive special written permission from the lawyer’s employer, Family Court and the Appellate Division.

Known officially as “attorneys for children,” law guardians belong to selective lists that allow them to earn $75-an-hour from the state, whether in court or at home. Collectively, they earn hundreds of thousands of taxpayer-funded dollars to legally represent children in custody cases or matters such as juvenile delinquency or Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) cases.

Lawsuit Alleges Juveniles Being Held on Parole Violations by ‘Kangaroo Court’, Chicago Tribune

A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges that hundreds of Illinois youths are imprisoned each year on often technical parole violations and held unconstitutionally through a “kangaroo court” system that inhibits their access to an attorney and other legal rights.

According to the suit, parole officers frequently persuade juvenile offenders accused of violating parole to waive crucial preliminary hearings by falsely telling them it will help get them home sooner. By the time full hearings are held, the juveniles have languished in custody for weeks, the suit alleges. Lawyers for the Northwestern University School of Law’s MacArthur Justice Center called those final hearings “a sham” anyway because the juveniles — many of whom have learning disabilities, mental illnesses and limited educations — are denied basic due process.

Lawmakers Might Consider Rehabilitation Alternatives for Juvenile Delinquents, Morris News Service

ATLANTA — Forget boot camps, “scared straight” and other so-called tough-love programs for teaching discipline, instilling fear or boosting self-esteem in juvenile delinquents.

Experts say repeated studies have shown they don’t work, and so now a high-level commission is considering moving Georgia toward what experts say does work in getting troublemakers onto the path of lifelong, law-abiding citizenship: rehabilitation.

Thinking about corrections has swung back and forth over the past 200 years between “lock ’em up” and “teach them to become contributing members of society.” Georgia triggered a previous swing toward rehabilitation and more humane treatment of adult inmates with the 1932 publication of the scathing autobiography “I’m a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang.”

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