Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Fewer Kids in Illinois Prisons, Illinois Times

During the late 1980s and 1990s, Illinois’ youth prisons began filling up rapidly. The tough-on-crime approach that began in the 1960s was at the peak of popularity, and state law reflected it in mandatory minimum sentences and other provisions. From 1985 to 2000, the state’s population of incarcerated youth more than doubled, from 1,534 to 3,074.

But changes in how Illinois handles youth crime and punishment have reversed that trend, and Illinois now ranks among the top states in reducing the number of incarcerated youth. That number has dropped from 3,003 in 2001 to less than 900 at present.

A new report by the National Juvenile Justice Network and the Texas Public Policy Foundation details the progress made in Illinois and eight other states which have seen drastic reductions in youth incarceration. Despite the advances, however, advocates say major problems still exist in Illinois’ juvenile justice system.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Landmark Children’s Rights Case, Child Law Blog

Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review a case brought by the Marsh Law Firm concerning criminal restitution for victims of child pornography.

The Court agreed to decide “what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant’s conduct and the victim’s harm or damages must the government or the victim establish in order to recover restitution under 18 U.S.C. §2259,” the Mandatory Restitution for Sexual Exploitation of Children Act of 1994.

The case, Doyle Randall Paroline v. Amy Unknown, arises out of a long-fought and extensively litigated criminal restitution action which began almost four years ago before Judge Leonard Davis in the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division.

PARCC Adopts Spec. Ed. Testing Policy for Common Core, Education Week

UPDATE: PARCC has posted online the materials on accommodations for special education students and common-core testing that it made available to its governing board. Please see memo to the board that outlines the contents of the policy; a PowerPoint presentation on the manual, and a draft of the final policy. An edited version is planned for release in late July.

Students with disabilities will be able to use read-aloud accommodations on the English/language arts portion of the common core tests, with no requirement that they be virtually unable to read printed text or be at the beginning stages of learning to decode, according an accommodations manual approved today by the governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers.

Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Indian Supreme Court to review blanket protection for juveniles, Mail Online India

The Supreme Court has decided to look into the Constitutional validity of the juvenile justice law which provides blanket protection to all offenders up to the age of 18 irrespective of their mental maturity level.

In the petition before the court, the lawyers have contended that it was irrational to put all juveniles up to 18 on the same footing without considering the nature and gravity of the offence, actual age and mental maturity level of juvenile offender, socio-economic background of the juvenile, nature and character of the juvenile and the rights of the victim.

The petitioners have also questioned the law on the grounds that it had completely taken away judicial discretion in offences committed by juveniles. They have pointed out that the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provided some discretion in this regard to judges, but there was no similar provision in the juvenile justice law.

Getting dropouts back in school, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a 2006 study, Rand Corp. estimated that 35 percent of Pittsburgh students drop out of high school. That rate climbs alarmingly to over 50 percent for black males.

We often see young people in the throes of teen angst making decisions they could end up regretting for a lifetime. These are the children that the Hill House Passport Academy, a charter drop-out recovery school planned for the Hill District, wants to help. A blended-learning school that combines traditional classroom work with online curriculum, it is modeled after a very successful school in Chicago that boasts a 95 percent graduation rate.

The Hill House Association now awaits a decision from the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education, the body that approves charter schools in Pittsburgh. In emotional testimony before the board, 20-year-old Ruben Franklin summed up his thoughts about the school. “It’s the second chance that everyone wants and that young people deserve.”

Fairfax youths subject of porn investigation, The Washington Post

Fairfax County police are continuing to investigate allegations that three West Springfield High School students filmed themselves engaged in drunken sex acts with at least six juvenile girls.

The three boys – two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old – were arrested at school Jan. 11, according to police and school officials. They have been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

The boys, whom police have not identified publicly because they are juveniles, allegedly hosted parties with girls who were students at West Springfield, Robinson Secondary and Lake Braddock Secondary schools, said a Fairfax County school official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the investigation. The teenagers apparently took part in consensual drinking sessions and then engaged in consensual sex acts, the official said, adding that the sex acts were recorded surreptitiously.