Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Without a Juvenile Jail, Sheridan Media

The jail was closed to juveniles in July 2012 after an increase in the number of adult inmates led Fremont County [Wyoming] to convert the juvenile wing to a women’s facility. In response to the situation, representatives of the Northern Arapahoe tribe have pushed harder than ever for a jail on the reservation, while the juvenile justice system throughout the county has put more effort into finding alternatives to jailing young people, especially for minor offenses.

When juveniles on the reservation do need to be placed behind bars, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) transports them to a facility in Busby, Mont., on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation . . . most often, according to a BIA officer who has made the trip, one (or sometimes two) of the reservation’s police officers must drop other duties to drive the full 12 hours to Montana and back. When the child’s presence is required in court, the BIA sends an officer to bring him back.

Because transportation is expensive and often hard to organize on short notice, juvenile probation violators who might have been detained nine months ago are often released to their families today. Aline Kitchin, juvenile probation supervisor for the Northern Arapahoe tribe, says the policy change has eroded some young people’s respect for the law . . .

Varn, the former [Fremont] county attorney who pushed many of the alternatives to detention during the past few years, remains sympathetic to the Native views.

“We never tried to tell the Tribal Court or anyone else on the reservation what they had to do,” Varn said. “At the same time, I hope they would achieve the same outcomes with their youth that we want. We want kids turning 18 without a criminal record.”

Keeping Teen Offenders in County-Run Lockups Would Save Cash: Not Everyone’s Sure it’s Wise, Dallas Observer Unfair Park

A new bill introduced in the Texas Senate would allow counties to open their own holding centers for juvenile law-breakers. Teenage offenders are currently held in lockups operated by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Senate bill 511, authored by state Senator John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, would give counties the freedom to open their own.   According to the Austin American-Statesman, Whitmire said at a hearing Tuesday that each incarcerated juvenile costs the state $120,000 per year. Counties, he says, can keep them for half that amount . . .

Not everyone is a fan. “I hope to goodness it doesn’t get traction,” Judge William A. Mazur of the 304th Juvenile District Court in Dallas told Unfair Park. Mazur cautioned that, while the state would save money, the individual counties would be serving smaller populations, and that the smaller scale would make many of the services offered now too costly.

Texas rates of juvenile detention have declined in the past several years, as have the rates nationally. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s yearly Kids Count report, the number of “persons under age 21 detained, incarcerated, or placed in residential facilities” in Texas steadily declined from 8247 in 2006 to 5352 in 2010 . . . Texas still has the second highest population of incarcerated juveniles in the country. California is a distant first with 11,532.

Watch How Sad These CNN Reports are for Steubenville Rapists, MSN

[S]ee why the world is not amused with Poppy Harlow and Candy Crowley’s reporting of the conviction of Steubenville, Ohio, rapists Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond [17 and 16 years olds who raped an intoxicated 16 year old at a party]. . . Most people really aren’t focused on these boys’ A+ GPAs or the demise of their football careers, no matter how much they cry in court. Tweets are accusing the reporters of turning the clock back on feminism with their misplaced compassion and blame-the-alcohol banter. Some are labeling the women as rape apologists.

 

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