Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Juvenile Law Change Forbids Minors From Being Held in Adult Prison (Philadelphia) The Times Tribune

Juvenile justice advocates are applauding a rule change recently enacted by the state Supreme Court that precludes authorities from holding juveniles in adult prisons pending their appearance in juvenile court.

The rule, enacted on June 28, clarifies the definition of a detention facility to specifically prohibit county or state jails and extends the definition of a juvenile to include a minor who has been detained for violation of the terms of their probation.

The Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee suggested the rule change after learning of concerns that juveniles were sometimes being temporarily held in adult prisons pending a hearing in juvenile court to determine if the minor had committed the alleged violation that led to their detention.

Indiana High Court Increases Difficulty of Placing Minors on Sex Offender Registries, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

In a 5-0 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on Monday that before juvenile court judges can place minors on sex offender registries, evidentiary hearings must be held to determine whether the youth is likely to reoffend.

At the hearings, juvenile offenders must be given the opportunity to have counsel representation, be allowed to challenge evidence brought forth by prosecutors and present their own evidence, wrote Justice Loretta Rush in the court’s opinion.

“It is well within a trial court’s discretion to hold more than one hearing to determine whether a juvenile’s risk of re-offending warrants placing them on the sex offender registry,” Rush wrote. “But when it does so, every hearing held for that purpose must be an ‘evidentiary hearing…’ That is, juveniles must have the opportunity to challenge the State’s evidence and present evidence of their own.”

Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

New Juvenile Justice Center Answer to Larger Load of Cases, mystateline.com

ROCKFORD – It’s just short move across Elm Street from the 4th floor of the Public Safety Building to the new Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Center.  The move is one the court system has been waiting for since they were forced to move to the PSB back in 2007.

“The old building was never suitable,” said Hon. Joseph McGraw, chief justice 17th Circuit Court.

“It was a make-do and we were told it would be for a year or two.  One year lead into another and another year and we again just had to make do.”

But making do lead to inefficiencies in juvenile court, and with nearly 3,300 pending cases before juvenile court judges, it something they simply couldn’t afford to do.

A Day in Family Court, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

NEW YORK — Daphne Culler whispered the words from the courtroom visitor’s bench, so quietly practically no one could hear.

“Just relax,” she said.

Culler, her face impassive, never broke eye contact with her daughter, who sat across the room at the witness table.

The 15-year-old, who was accused of assaulting a shop owner, mumbled each answer. Twice the judge told her to speak up. Her demeanor alternated between anxiety and annoyance at the repeated questions, a quick smile sometimes flashing across her face until the next question called her to attention.

Missouri Sentencing Law for Juveniles Draws Criticism, The Kansas City Star

JEFFERSON CITY — The Platte County prosecutor, who heads a statewide association for prosecuting attorneys, said Tuesday that lawmakers’ failure to pass a new sentencing structure for juveniles could delay or jeopardize the trials of teens accused of murder.

Under Missouri law, anyone convicted of first-degree murder is either sentenced to death or to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

However, a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005 said death sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional, leaving life without parole as the only sentencing option for Missourians under 18 who are convicted of murder.