Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Breaking the Cycle of Hyper-Recidivism, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Is reform a means to cut the budget or is cutting the budget a means to reform?

It’s like which came first–the chicken or the egg?

For Georgia, I think money is part of the equation, and ultimately becomes part of the outcome, but it’s definitely not the primary objective despite it’s appearance.

In times of economic woe, one does not increase those woes with added fiscal burdens. A financial crisis is an easy out for any governor or lawmaker to avoid unwanted legislation.

Instead of the road of least resistance, Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal chose the road less traveled and established a Criminal Justice Reform Council of multi-disciplinary members to study the juvenile justice system and recommend reforms to improve the system.

In  Georgia, Sex Abuse Allegations Cloud Progress of Juvenile Justice Reform, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

DALLAS, Ga. — Main Street in Dallas, Ga., looks like many a former country town pulled into the orbit of Atlanta. The tidy retired courthouse now houses an arts association and is surrounded by cafes, antique shops and a pleasant plaza. A growing population pushed the law a mile away into the new Watson Government Complex five years ago. A few miles on the other side of town, the Paulding County Sports Complex offers green fields for football and baseball.

The buildings across the street have a great view of the play fields, albeit through chain link fences and razor wire. That’s where the state of Georgia put the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center, a short-term lockup which houses up to 75 boys and 25 girls from across seven northwest Georgia counties.

At the gates of the Paulding RYDC, the pleasantness of Dallas stops.  A federal study ranked it second in the nation for youth reports of sexual victimization while incarcerated.

A sister facility in rural Eastman, Ga. ranked fourth in the nation.

21 Children Die From Tainted Lunches at Indian School, NYTimes.com

NEW DELHI — Twenty-one children died and more than two dozen others were hospitalized Tuesday after eating lunch tainted with insecticide at a primary school in the eastern state of Bihar.

The children complained that the food — rice, beans and potato curry — tasted odd and soon suffered severe vomiting and diarrhea, officials said. The school’s cook tasted the food and promptly fell ill as well, according to P. K. Shahi, minister of human resource development in Bihar.

School meal programs in India, like many government programs, are rife with fraud. Corruption has long been endemic in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states.

After seeing the children get sick, the school’s teachers and administrators fled the school, according to Dr. Shambhu Nath Singh, the deputy superintendent of the government hospital in Bihar’s Saran District. Parents took the children to the hospital. Seven were dead on arrival and seven others died soon after, Dr. Singh said.

 

 

Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Being Female in a System Designed for Boys, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

NEW YORK — On a recent Friday, 16-year-old Makala woke up and put on yellow skinny jeans and a trim black jacket — a stylish outfit that marked her temporary freedom.

[Listen to the audio interview here: Interview with Makala]

Until recently, most days Makala wore khakis and a green shirt to satisfy the dress code during a 10-month sentence at The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Good behavior had earned her a home pass to visit family a few weeks before her mid-April release.

Since her first arrest at age 12, Makala, whose last name is not used because she is a minor, has bounced through a number of placement and transition programs. As she recounted her time in the system she absent mindedly tore a reporter’s business card into tiny pieces. She described a menacing environment, rife with constant threats.

Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities, ChildLaw Blog,

According to the 2010 Administration on Children Youth and Families (ACYF) report, more than 3 million reports of child maltreatment were made in 2009. Of those cases, 10 percent involved sexual abuse, and 11 percent of sexual abuse victims reported having a disability.

The Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety recently partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to research factors contributing to the sexual abuse of children with disabilities and determine possible action steps for prevention.

In Illinois, A Season of Restorative Justice, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

It has been a good spring for juvenile justice in Illinois. In a year of great fiscal challenge, the General Assembly approved Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to double funding for Redeploy Illinois, a successful program helping teens get services in their communities instead of behind sent away to distant prisons.  Legislators also passed a bill to customize Redeploy programs for Cook County neighborhoods and bring the diversion program to the state’s largest county for the first time.

In addition, lawmakers approved a bill raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 17 for young people charged with felonies. That was a huge victory propelled by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s well-researched report (“Raise the Age; Don’t Split the Difference”) and accomplished by the Juvenile Justice Initiative’s effort to create the largest advocacy collaboration in the state’s juvenile justice history. Those legislative moves forward were buttressed by an Illinois Supreme Court rule change, which was championed by the Illinois State Bar Association, giving priority to appeals of delinquency proceedings.

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.