Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

New National Standards for Legal Defense Could Help Juveniles, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

As courtrooms juggle massive caseloads, measures to ensure a robust defense for juveniles can fall by the wayside, leading to life-long repercussions for minors. Now a national organization devoted to the legal defense of juveniles has released a comprehensive, peer-reviewed set of standards that it hopes will go a long way toward ensuring that lawyers assigned to defend minors can offer them the best possible representation in court.

“What we have found in courtrooms around the country is that there is a failure to recognize the special skills and knowledge that is required to confidently and zealously represent juveniles,” said Cathryn Crawford, a contributor to the standards who helped manage the Models for Change juvenile justice reform initiative funded by the MacArthur Foundation. “It’s not a consequence of people simply not caring, but there is a pervasive attitude that juvenile court is not important because cases are less severe than adult court.”

The National Juvenile Defense Standards are available online here.

Oklahoma Lawmaker’s Bill Would Restrict Divorces, NewsOK

Promoting strong marriages is an “obvious” way to improve the health, education, public safety and economy in Oklahoma, Rep. Mark McCullough said Monday. McCullough is the author of House Bill 1548, which would not allow married couples to divorce on the grounds of incompatibility if there are minor children living in the home, if they have been married longer than 10 years or if either party objects.

The bill is one of seven filed by legislators this year that would make it more difficult to divorce. Senate Bill 105 would legalize “covenant” marriages, which would require counseling both before marriage and during divorce; Senate Bill 961 would require parents undergoing divorces to attend classes and receive information about divorce’s adverse effects on children.

The Marrying Kind, Oklahoma Gazette

Brecheen (State Senator, R-Coalgate) apparently has had it up to here with couples in Oklahoma — which the U.S. Census Bureau reports has the country’s highest divorce rate — not taking marriage seriously.

His proposal would make divorce more labor-intensive for couples in a covenant marriage. They would have to undergo counseling before marriage or divorce as well as a “cooling-off” period up to two years before splitsville. Covenant marriages currently are available in Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona.

SB 105 was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now goes before the entire Senate for consideration.

PeaceJam Youth Conference 2013: Transformation Not Incarceration, Peace Jam

Rocky Mountain PeaceJam, in partnership with The Institute on the Common Good at Regis University and the Center for Juvenile Justice, are proud to announce the 17th Annual PeaceJam Youth Conference: Transformation Not Incarceration.  This year we will be visited by 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum.

“The youth do have a voice and have something to say. With determination and a nonviolent attitude, people can alter in a postive way the world they live in. That is the PeaceJam spirit, the embodiment of change and hope for everybody.” – Rigoberta Menchú Tum.

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