Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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National Juvenile Defender Center releases Trial Manual for Defense Attorneys in Juvenile Delinquency Cases 

Schaible Children to Get Court Ordered Medical Care, The Philadelphia Enquirer

Herbert and Catherine Schaible’s seven [remaining] children were placed in temporary foster care after the couple told police they did not bring their 8-month-old, Brandon, to a doctor when he showed serious signs of illness last month. The Schaibles – members of a church that shuns medical care – are on probation for the 2009 death of their 2-year-old son, Kent.

While authorities await the results of Brandon Schaible’s autopsy, child welfare workers are monitoring the medical needs of the seven other Schaible children, said Mythri Jayaraman, a lawyer for Catharine Schaible, after a probationary status hearing Monday at the Criminal Justice Center.

At a Family Court hearing last week, a judge ordered Department of Human Services workers to ensure the children’s “routine and special” medical needs were being met, Jayaraman said . . .  All of the children have received medical examinations and any needed immunizations, and appear to be healthy, Hoof said.

Mother’s Quest to Find Treatment for Son Highlights Mental Health System’s Limitations: Chicago Woman Says She Faced Many Barriers to Acquiring Long-Term Care for Child, Who Spiraled Downward into Drug Use, Incarceration, Chicago Tribune

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Marciano bounced from emergency room to jail to the streets. When he believes he is Jesus Christ or Tupac Shakur or tells his mother she needs to “watch her back,” Gabel said, she double-checks the locks on her house in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood and alerts her neighbors that her son might come home. She estimates he has been hospitalized 45 times.

Americans have longed for better ways to prevent and treat mental illness in children for years, and the desire is especially amplified after school shootings such as Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 or Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. The haunting questions stubbornly remain the same: Are parents clueless? In denial? Why don’t they just do something about their troubled children?

Gabel has tried so hard for so long that she is emotionally and financially drained, she said. Her quest illuminates the challenges of navigating a mental health care system that many say is broken, leaving too many children and young adults with psychosis and nowhere to turn . . .

Of the 15 million U.S. youths with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, less than half will get medical attention, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  There are treatments that work, “but frequently you cannot get them to the people in crisis,” said Susan Resko, executive director of the Balanced Mind Foundation, a national children’s mental health advocacy group based in Chicago.

The hurdles are especially high in Illinois, which slashed more than $100 million in mental health services from 2009 to 2011 and perennially dwells at the bottom of state rankings, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. During Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address in March, he emphasized mental illness should be a “top priority” and proposed an additional $25 million investment to improve care.

Gabel, an administrative assistant and mother of three, fears her 24-year-old middle child is now too ill to respond to medical intervention, not unlike a cancer patient who ignored early symptoms and is left with a body riddled with tumors.  “He’s just so far gone now,” she said . . .

“My mom has fought long and hard for that boy,” Stephanie Marciano said. “She’s talked to anybody and everybody that she possibly could, and he’s just fallen through the cracks every time.”

Specific events in Marciano’s life — such as the state’s decision to not provide him with an Individual Care Grant and his incarcerations — stand out as turning points in what his 26-year-old brother calls “a slow, gradual spiral downward.”

“He should have been one of the ones accepted, and he got shunned,” said Tim Marciano, who works in banking. “In the meantime, he was just rotting in prison, when he should have been getting help in a mental health facility somewhere. Look at where it’s gotten him.”

Ex-Browerville Athlete Admits to Sexual Assaults on Teammates, Minneapolis StarTribune

A former Browerville High School student has admitted that he was among athletes who sexually assaulted teammates in incidents that stretched from the small western Minnesota community to a downtown Minneapolis hotel.

Seth Kellen, 19, pleaded guilty Monday in Todd County District Court to felony fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for using force or coercion during sexual contact. Specifically, Kellen admitted to digitally penetrating a 17-year-old teammate in March 2012 while the basketball team was in Minneapolis for the state tournament.

Kellen also was accused of pulling down his pants while in a Minneapolis parking-ramp elevator with his teammates and two student managers, ages 11 and 12. He then jumped on teammates’ backs and hit them with his penis, the charges say. He had also been accused of sexually assaulting football and basketball teammates numerous times . . .

When sentenced, Kellen is expected to be given a 30-day jail term and placed on probation for 10 years. Terms of probation include being assessed for anger management and counseled about sexual boundaries. If he complies and doesn’t violate probation, the felony case will be dismissed, said County Attorney Chuck Rasmussen.

In November, co-defendant Connor S. Burns, 19, pleaded to an agreement that will dismiss charges against him if he has no similar offenses during his five years of probation. Burns will not have to serve any time. Another player, Seth Christiansen, was tried as a juvenile and also came to a plea agreement.

Attorneys for Kellen and Burns had argued that the alleged assaults were part of a common culture of horseplay and hazing that’s gone on for years at the school in Browerville, which has about 790 residents. They insisted that the acts weren’t sexual.

Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Cuba Hands Over Hakken Family to US: Boys Head Back to Grandparents, Mom and Dad Cool Heels in Jail, Newser

The Hakken family is back on US soil this morning, after Cuba handed the foursome over to US custody without ado. Josh and Sharyn Hakken, accused of abducting their two sons and sailing off to the island nation, are sitting in a Florida jail; they face charges including kidnapping, grand theft auto, and child neglect, CNN reports. While in Cuba, Josh Hakken freely told CNN who he was, and authorities weren’t sure how they would get the family back to the US. “We would like to express our appreciation to the Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly,” says a US spokeswoman.

Cole, 4, and Chase, 2, will soon be reunited with their maternal grandparents and their dog. Bob and Patricia Hauser have had legal custody of the boys since the Hakkens’ parental rights were terminated earlier this month after authorities responded to a disturbance at a hotel and found the family. The Hakken parents “were acting in a bizarre manner that alarmed officers,” the police report says.  

Students, Civil Rights Groups Say ‘No’ to School Cops, USA Today

As post-Newtown proposals aimed at making U.S. schools safer take shape, civil rights groups are taking an unusual stand, saying “no thanks” to more police in school.  Several groups have already told Congress that more armed officers in schools won’t necessarily make students safer. On March 28, a coalition of young people from across the nation announced its opposition to “the deployment of additional armed guards” in schools.

“We don’t need more guns,” said Judith Brown Diannis of the Advancement Project, a coalition of civil rights groups that supports the students. “We need people who can build relationships with young people.” . . . [They] are pushing for schools to hire more counselors and social workers, saying the threat from outside intruders like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is exceedingly rare. “Unfortunately, when these tragedies happen, we never make the choices that are about the long-term solutions,” she said.

The Obama administration has proposed adding 1,000 more school resource officers (SROs), counselors, social workers and school psychologists. On Jan. 16, President Obama unveiled a “Comprehensive School Safety” program that would give schools and local law enforcement agencies $150 million for new personnel, with the Department of Justice slated to develop a model for SROs.

Colorado Senate Panel Backs Reinstating Eligibility for Rehab Program, The Denver Post

Young offenders could once again qualify for a special program that separates them from the general prison population under a bill passed unanimously out of a Senate committee Monday.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, reinstates provisions that expand the eligibility of offenders — who are either 18 or 19 years old at the time a crime is committed — to the Colorado Department of Corrections’ youth-offender system.  A 2009 law expanded program eligibility — which specializes in rehabilitation efforts centered on education — but an oversight by the Department of Corrections allowed the law to sunset last October . . .

Under [Colorado] Senate Bill 216, young offenders convicted of felonies qualify to be sentenced to what’s billed as a “middle-tier” program between youth and adult corrections in Colorado.

According to the state’s department of corrections, more than 200 young offenders are in the program and can serve up to six years of their sentence in it. Moreover, upon release from the program, 98 percent of offenders earn a GED or high school diploma. In 2011, it cost the department of corrections $15.4 million to run the program . . .

Young offenders, those either 18 or 19 years old, who don’t qualify for the program consist of individuals convicted of Class 1 or 2 felonies or a sexual offense.

Recidivism rates for young offenders who complete the program after three years is about 20 percent, according to the department of corrections.