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.


Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Amended juvenile justice law hits snag, BusinessMirror

In the Philippines, the bill amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 hit a snag at the bicameral conference committee on Monday when senators failed to reach an agreement with their House counterparts on lowering the age of discernment to 12 years old but only for heinous crimes as proposed by the latter.

Apparently, Cayetano and Pangilinan sided with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and insisted that the age of discernment be at 15 years old regardless of the crime committed.

Harsher law for juvenile criminals needs debate, Hindustan Times

The Indian government on Monday defended its decision to come out with an ordinance on sexual assault, saying it has an open mind to other suggestions that might follow. “The ordinance is the first step in the making of law,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Manoj Tewari at a press conference.
Chidambaram said the government was working on suggestions to have a more stringent Juvenile Justice Act–the law which governs how minors are treated under the law–but made it clear that it cannot be applied retrospectively.

“That’s the law,” he said. “The Juvenile Justice Act is a separate law. Whether the age should be reduced, whether it should reduced for certain kinds of offences, what you call heinous offences, is a matter that has to be considered very carefully and within the permissible limits of the Constitution,” said Chidambaram. The ordinance will not be applicable to the December 16 Delhi gangrape case but its provisions on procedural law will help in “quicker completion of the trial”.

A Delhi court on Saturday framed charges of murder, gang-rape, kidnapping and on 10 other counts against five accused involved in the Dec 16 rape of a 23-year-old woman. Of the sex persons accused in the case, one has been declared a minor and will be tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. The juvenile, allegedly the most brutal of the rapits, cannot be given the death penalty and will probably get a prison sentence of no more than three years.

For more information and opinions on this issue, see the Times of India, the Washington Post, and Outlook.

Bill would aid rape victims, The Cincinnati Enquirer

A state representative wants to make sure that women who become mothers as the result of a rape don’t have to share custody with their rapists.

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, plans to file a bill Tuesday in the General Assembly that will make sure that anyone convicted of first degree rape in which a child was conceived will not have parental or visitation rights. As the law stands, Keene said, a convicted rapist could take his victim to court seeking parental rights to a child.