Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Two Sister States are Worlds Apart on Juvenile Justice Issues, Social Justice Solutions

California and Florida are practically sister states. Both are major tourist destinations and home to numerous celebrities. Aside from that, they have thriving multi-billion dollar agricultural interests with oranges, avocados, etc. jockeying for coveted market share. These states are also remarkably long with different community influences, biospheres, and terrain to contend with. In fact, both are so long that one could almost reach Chicago from Pensacola in the same time and length of travel as it would take to drive to Key West. In regards to cultural influences, both have unusually large Asian, Hispanic, and Native American influences. Indeed, numerous similarities abound between the two. However, when it comes to Juvenile Justice issues, these two sister states are worlds apart.

Starting in the 1990s, both states seemed to be traveling along the same path. The “Super Predator” myth first posited by Professor John DiIulio, Jr., a well-noted author and criminologist, caught the public in a frenzy that led to more and more arrests of teen and pre-teen boys for seemingly innocuous offenses. Federally funded School Resource Officers filled the schools and only helped to bolster the number of juveniles being processed through the courts – many tried as adults. Then, a massive series of events occurred in 2009 that fundamentally changed the two states and put them on drastically different paths.

Report Singles Out 9 States, Including Texas, For Turnaround in Adopting Policies to Reduce Youth Incarceration, Dallas Morning News

Texas has reduced the number of youth the state incarcerates by 35 percent in the past 10 years, turning around its policies and realigning the juvenile justice system, according to a report by the National Juvenile Justice Network and Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The report, titled “The Comeback States,” was published this week and focuses on nine states that incarcerated youth at a high rate between 1985-2000 and then experienced a sharp decline between 2001-2010.

Nationally, in 2000, more than 108,000 youth were being held in juvenile facilities. At the end of 2010, that number dropped to 66,000.

State Judge Strikes Down N.H. Tax Credit for Private Tuition Aid, Education Week

A New Hampshire judge has struck down the state’s year-old program of tax credits for businesses that contribute money to organizations offering tuition scholarships at private schools.

Presiding Justice John M. Lewis of Stratford County Superior Court held that the program violates the state constitution because it diverts state tax payments to religious schools.

“New Hampshire students, and their parents, certainly have the right to choose a religious education,” the judge said in his June 17 ruling in Duncan v. New Hampshire. “However, the government is under no obligation to fund ‘religious’ education. Indeed, the government is expressly forbidden from doing so by the very language of the New Hampshire Constitution.”

Los Angeles Moves to ‘Mainstream’ Hundreds of Students, Education Week

First Illinois, now Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is the latest mainstreaming effort to make the news. The 640,000-student district plans to move hundreds of students from separate schools for students with disabilities to neighborhood schools, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

The district says it is making the move in order to comply with federal and state regulations, in addition to a 1996 consent decree that requires the district to reduce the number of students in stand-alone centers. An independent monitor overseeing Los Angeles’ efforts to comply with the decree maintains a website of the latest district moves.

 

Brandon Schrecengost

About Brandon Schrecengost

Brandon Schrecengost is a second year student at the University of Houston Law Center. He graduated with his Bachelors degree in Anthropology from the University of Houston in 2007. After graduation, Brandon taught science and music at Sharpstown Middle School in Houston ISD. He began working as an intern with the Center for children Law and Policy this summer and is currently the treasurer of the International Law Society at UHLC. Brandon’s interest in how legal policy effects children the world over, particularly in the realm of education, continues to inform his work.

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