Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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17-Year Old Tried As Juvenile After Killing Ref Over Call, Could Serve Less Than 4 Years, cbs.com

A teenager charged with killing a Utah soccer referee because he didn’t like the man’s call during a game pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of homicide by assault in a case that brought new attention to the issue of violence and sportsmanship in athletics.

A judge sentenced the teenager to juvenile prison, leaving how much time he’ll spend there to a juvenile parole board. The maximum would be just more than three years until he turns 21, but the parole board has the authority to let him out sooner, said Patricia Cassell, a Salt Lake County deputy district attorney.

Police say the teenager punched 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo once in the head on April 27 after the referee called a foul on him. Portillo died after a weeklong coma, leaving behind three daughters.

Two of Portillo’s daughters spoke in court Monday, telling the teenager that taking their father away has destroyed the family.

“I don’t think you’ll ever understand how much pain and suffering you made us go through,” said Ana Portillo, 21, looking at the teenager. “We just wish you had taken a deep breath before you did what you did. You have to change.”

He told the judge he aims to get his high school degree and study chemical engineering in college.  He then looked straight at Portillo’s daughters, seated in the front row, and told them he knows how much pain he has caused them.

Hornak noted the teen is a good student — taking Advanced Placement classes — with no previous criminal record. But she also underscored the seriousness of the crime and said she was most troubled that he acted so violently toward a person that did nothing to provoke him.

City gives juvenile offenders a second chance, thisweeknews.com

New Albany has launched a diversion program for first-time juvenile traffic offenders that would void the charge and keep it from being filed with a court.

Amy Boyd, New Albany’s probation officer, said the diversion program is open to drivers ages 15 to 17 who have been stopped for a minor traffic offense, such as speeding, violating temporary driving permit rules, assured clear distance ahead, failure to obey a traffic signal or failure to obey at a stop sign.

The program is for first offenses only, Boyd said, and no accident or other major traffic violation can have occurred during the incident.

A New Albany police officer who stops a juvenile driver can file the ticket with Franklin County Municipal Court or offer the offender the diversion program.

If offered the program, the juvenile driver has five days from the date of the traffic stop to contact Boyd and request admission to the program.

New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee said the program takes one to six months to complete.

Boyd said it is personalized to each offender and includes community service, a curfew, an essay and other components.

Life in India’s Juvenile Homes, newyorktimes.com

On Magazine Road, near the Delhi University campus, a seedy, expansive complex with high, pale yellow walls, which served as a warehouse for arms and ammunition during the British rule, houses three of the six correctional facilities for juvenile offenders run by the Delhi government. Its most notorious inmate is the youngest defendant on trial for the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.

The juvenile home in north Delhi lodges offenders who are 16 years and older–including those undergoing trials as well as those convicted of their crimes. Last week, 20 juveniles resided across the three facilities. Separate facilities in Delhi house inmates below 14 years and those 14 to 16 years old.

Private security guards and juvenile home staff kept a watchful eye on the inmates at all times, he said, although the closed circuit cameras installed in the complex didn’t work. “The children broke the cameras,” Mr. Dhaneria said.

Despite the facility having a budgetary allocation of almost 4 million rupees, or $66,000, for the current financial year, Mr. Dhaneria said that he was waiting for the Delhi government department overseeing his facility to approve a request to purchase new cameras and computers.



Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Not So Well-Regulated Militias in Schools, Juvenile Justice Blog

However, absent from the media coverage of North Carolina, and lost amidst the General Assembly’s recent efforts to attack women, restrict voting, dismantle public education, make the rich richer and poor poorer, and initiate other measures from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s vile playbook, is a section buried deep (pages 77-78) in the recently ratified state budget that would allow armed militias to roam schools and arrest students.

The provision allows school districts to enter into agreements with sheriff’s departments and/or police departments that would provide former law enforcement officers and/or former military police officers to roam school hallways. The legislation requires the “volunteer school safety resource officers” to be trained in the social and cognitive development of children, but does not require training in their proper roles, students with disabilities, students’ rights, supporting students in positive ways, or cultural competency. Additionally, the bill mandates that neither a law enforcement agency nor a school district can be held liable for any “good-faith action” taken by an officer. Also, the bill does not prohibit the volunteers from carrying pepper spray, TASERs, and guns; presumably, volunteers will be armed. Perhaps worst of all, the provision gives the officers the power to arrest without any restrictions on such power (e.g., no arrests for minor misbehavior or manifestations of students’ disabilities). Notably, the state budget also provides grants for more paid law enforcement officers to patrol public schools on a full-time basis (misleadingly called “school resource officers”).

History and research tell us that unleashing armed cops and soldiers in schools will disproportionately impact students of color and result in more students unnecessarily in the juvenile and criminal injustice systems, more undermining of teachers’ and administrators’ authority, and more damage to learning environments. Even if law enforcement officers in schools were benevolently conceived as a means of keeping intruders out of schools and intervening when violence occurs, they are typically used as yet another developmentally inappropriate way of punishing misbehaving students who need understanding and positive support.

Since policymakers have repeatedly ignored thepleas and research from education and juvenile justice advocates, it’s up to school districts to stay true to their missions and reject more (paid or volunteer) cops in schools. And it’s up to all of us to demand investments in proven measures of ensuring school safety, such as: small schools and classes; Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports; ample support staff (e.g., teacher assistants, counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and mentors); student support teams; restorative justice, social and emotional learning, and bullying prevention programs. Let’s stand up and protect our students and schools, before it’s too late.

Russia Reports Third Children’s Camp Stricken, rferl.org

Health authorities in Russia’s eastern Primorye region are blaming contaminated food or water for sickness that has afflicted 28 children at a summer camp. But the problem comes after 116 children and two adults from the children’s camps Orlyonok and Gudok in the Perm area, near the Urals, required treatment in a hospital late last week for intestinal problems.

Last week a group of orphans fled the Vostok children’s camp near Irkutsk because of lack of food.

110 children taken ill after mid-day meal in Bihar, newstrackindia.com

At least 110 children were taken ill after eating mid-day meal in Bihar’s Arwal and Jamui districts Wednesday in the second tragedy related to free school food in the state this month, officials said. On July 16, 23 children died after eating contaminated mid-day meal in Saran district. In Arwal district 65 children were taken ill and in Jamui district 45 children fell sick in Kalyuga village.

The incident in Arwal district took place in government primary school in Chandi village and out of the 65 children who fell ill 10 fainted for a few minutes, officials said.

Children were served ‘khichri and chokha’ in the mid-day meal. “Soon after they ate the food, some children complained of vomiting and pain in stomach,” an official said. In a similar tragedy, 23 children died after eating contaminated mid-day meal in Saran district. A forensic report confirmed the presence of toxic insecticide traces in the cooking oil used for making food at the school.

Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

India, Dead Children, and the Lessons of a Dangerous Pesticide, wired.com

Last week, 23 children – some as young as five, none older than 12 – died after eating the free lunch provided at their school in a village in the state of Bihar in northern India.  Another two dozen remain hospitalized. They’d reportedly complained about the oddly blackened look of the meal, the bitter taste. But their principal insisted that they finish their food – a dish of beans, potatoes and vegetables – as good children should.

The principal, who had fled, was arrested yesterday.  There’s no word yet on her husband who also vanished – a grocer who supplied the school kitchen with what now appears to be cooking oil stored in pesticide containers. The obvious skimming of government money provided for school lunches, the charges of engrained corruption and slippery politics, and the absolutely needless deaths of young (and trusting) children has set off a round of accusations and recriminations in India. And also some more deliberate copy-cat poisonings, such as an incident yesterday near the city of Bhopal in which a man dropped rat poison into food being prepared for 50 students at a hostel (who, thankfully, refused to eat it due to the smell).

Lethal pesticides and other poisons are  less tightly regulated in India – and many countries in Southeast Asia – than they are here in the United States. The resulting easy access, the easy familiarity, are among the reasons that  mass poisonings remain more common there than in our corner. Let’s not forget that also, last week, 22 people died after eating a poisoned dinner in Pakistan. The murders were related to a feud between two brothers.  Those circumstances also play into small scale poisonings that often receive little attention, such as this barely noticed story from June in which a mother killed herself and her three children with poison, or this April incident, meriting a bare three newspaper paragraphs, in which the owner of a private school in Binkaner, India raped two young girls in his care and poisoned them when they threatened to tell.

You may not have heard of monocrotophos; it’s been banned in the United States for years. (It’s also banned in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, the Dominican Republic, the European Union, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.) The Pesticide Action Network reports that it was also banned for use on vegetables in India in 2006 due to high residue levels but is “easily available and widely used on them.”

According to the WHO, India has found it difficult to enforce the 2006 monocrotophos ban for vegetables because it is used on so many crops, especially cotton. The country considered a universal ban  but was apparently persuaded otherwise by a discussions (read, suspected bribes) involving pesticide industry representatives. Would such a ban have saved those poor children in Bihar last week? Of course, not. There are countless other poisons to use either mistakenly or deliberately in any country, especially one that keeps the bar low on consumer education and protection.

But the fact that the killing agent was this one,  this macabre pesticide outlawed by countries including India’s neighbors, speaks to the curious comfort with lethal compounds the country so far maintains. It speaks to an indifference to those without money and power – poor farmers, poor children, birds and animals trapped in the cast of a toxic net. It undoubtedly speaks as well to the charges of corruption and politics that followed the mounting toll of dead children. Because the truth about public education and solidly enforced regulation is that these are tools of equality. They respect the least powerful as well as the most.

Feds Charge Florida Over Mishandling of Disabled Children, abc. com

The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the state of Florida, alleging disabled children there have been systemically segregated and isolated in nursing homes when they should have been eligible for home health care.

The suit alleges Florida violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates that the state provide “reasonable accommodations” for parents of children with disabilities.

Federal investigators also noticed that disabled children in nursing homes seemed banished to the second floor in one facility and blocked from the outdoors by a smoking section for the elderly in another.

According to the complaint, Florida reduced funding for and access to home medical care for disabled children, failed to prevent them from inappropriately being placed in nursing homes and failed to offer them an opportunity to return to the community.

“Today’s Obama administration action shows that Washington is not interested in helping families improve but instead is determined to file disruptive lawsuits with the goal of taking over control and operation of Florida’s Medicaid and disability programs,” said the state agency’s secretary Elizabeth Dudek.