Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

State Panel Reviews Rules on Juvenile Sentences, Hartford Courant

Trent Butler is a poster child for second chances.  After a tumultuous adolescence and 14 years in prison, Butler got serious about life. He graduated from college and now holds down two jobs while pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Butler came to the [Connecticut] state Capitol Thursday to testify before a commission weighing changes to sentencing policies for juveniles. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Miller v. Alabama, holds that life sentences for offenders under 18 are unconstitutional and requires states to provide young prisoners with “a meaningful opportunity” to seek release.

MacArthur Foundation Program Honors Juvenile Justice Reform Achievements of Rutgers-Newark Law Professor, Rutgers Media Relations

Laura Cohen, Clinical Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, has been recognized by the MacArthur Foundation Models for Change program for her zealous and effective advocacy on behalf of youth in the criminal justice system. Cohen received a 2012 Champion for Change award yesterday at the 7th Annual Models for Change National Conference in Washington, DC. Award recipients are selected both for their long-time commitment to creating change on behalf of youth and their innovative and creative use of resources provided by Models for Change.

Florida City Considers Citation Alternative for First Time Criminals, PoliceOne.com

A working juvenile system may be applied to adults to save counties money and give offenders a second chance.

Years ago, Florida lawmakers decided that if you’re under the age of 18 and you get arrested for the first time for a minor crime, you deserve a second chance. . . . So, the Juvenile Civil Citation program was born. It allowed juveniles who get charged with certain misdemeanors to avoid arrest by completing community service, paying restitution, attending counseling and abiding by any number of other sanctions prescribed by a judge.

The Florida Smart Justice Alliance, a new group that promotes changes in the criminal justice system, is promoting the concept of adult civil citations. Last month, it announced an agreement with law enforcement in Tallahassee and surrounding Leon County that would allow law enforcement officers there to issue citations to first-time adult offenders.

“We had enough of a track record with the juvenile program that we knew that it was saving the state a lot of money,” said Mark Flynn, president of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance.

Making Sure the Children are Safe, The Jakarta Post

Reported violence against children increases every year, although it is not clear whether organizations advocating children encourage victims to report their cases. Some of the incidents involve child perpetrators, and some are constant victims of abusive elders. Of the children who manage to get help, who takes care of them? The Jakarta Post’s Prodita Sabarini reports on the issue.

Sixteen-year-old W wears her hair in a ponytail with thick bangs. Her face is round with soft edges, revealing her youth. While other girls were studying hard at school or just busy being teens, for years W had to work far away from home as a nanny to other people’s children.  A child looking after children, W is a victim of child trafficking. She said she only finished fifth grade and was immediately sent from her home in Malang to work in Batam, a short ferry ride from Singapore.

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