Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Here’s a look at today’s top stories affecting children’s rights, juvenile justice, and education:

NAACP Blasts Mace in Birmingham Schools, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)

The NAACP launched an online petition this week, inviting people to lend their names to a campaign to end the use of pepper spray on students in Birmingham, Al. public schools.

“As long as we continue to treat students like criminals, they will grow up to become criminals,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a written statement.

The NAACP argues that Mace and pepper spray may be legitimate parts of an adult or crowd policing strategy, but are not acceptable for use on school children. Birmingham’s public school population is overwhelmingly African-American.

What About the Girls?, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)

Juvenile crime has been declining for years and is now at historic lows. That’s the good news. The bad news is that girls are now the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system. Although the system is still dominated by boys, in 2009, girls made up 30 percent of all juvenile arrests; up from 20 percent in 2008. Two-thirds are girls of color.

Why this increase in girl delinquents? Program operators say there is a new kind of girl coming into their programs — girls who are more troubled than those they’ve worked with in the past.

Court Upholds School’s Use of Desk with Restraining Bar, Education Week

A Colorado school district’s use of a special desk with a restraining bar did not violate the federal constitutional rights of a young student with disabilities, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The court said the use of the U-shaped desk, with a wooden bar designed to keep a student from pushing back his or her chair, did not amount to an unconstitutional “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment. It also held that the exclusive use of the desks in special education classrooms did not violate the 14th Amendment equal-protection rights of students.

Children with Disabilities Get Mentions on Republican Stage, Education Week

Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Here’s a look at today’s top stories affecting children’s rights, juvenile justice, and education:

Visa offers path for immigrant youth in state care, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Maria Boudet has no memory of Mexico or how she came to the United States. What she does remember is the year she turned 16 and found out she was living in the country illegally.

Two years ago, her mother was deported, her brother was detained and she was put in foster care. A powerful reminder of all she lost and gained is printed on the top right corner of her green card: “SL6.” That’s the code for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), the little-known program that allows Boudet and hundreds like her each year to live and work in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.

York County’s “juvenile lifers” all expecting court hearings, York Daily Record

Attorneys representing the 11 men from York County serving life without parole sentences for murders committed as juveniles all filed a motion or petition in county court by Friday just to make sure they did not miss a deadline.

Whether there was a deadline remains something of a question.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that mandatory life sentences for juvenile killers is unconstitutional.

Pennsylvania law mandates that a convicted person has 60 days from the time a new law is “enacted” to file for relief.

The question defense attorneys had was: When did or does the clock start ticking? Was it the day of the Supreme Court ruling or in the future when the state legislature enacts new law governing the sentencing of juvenile murders?

A Look at Girls in the Juvenile Justice System, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)

A report released this month takes an in-depth look at how girls are represented in North Carolina’s juvenile justice system, how the numbers have shifted over the years and why females are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system despite the overall decrease in juvenile crime. Representing Girls In the Juvenile Justice System, released by the North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender, looks at not only the characteristics and risk factors of girls in the juvenile justice system, but also offers several best practices to best serve the unique issues this population faces.

Q&A with Shay Bilchik, Former Head of the Federal Office on Juvenile Justice, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)