Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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New Initiative Seeks to Keep Juveniles Out of Trouble by Keeping Them Out of Jail, The Inquirer

WITH THE NUMBER of juveniles arrested in Philadelphia dropping to its lowest point since 2007, the city and youth advocates are working to ensure that children who commit minor offenses are helped back on the right path.

Philadelphia has been selected to participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI), which focuses on jailing only those children who pose the most serious risks to public safety.

The initiative stresses the use of youth-development programs and home-monitoring devices to ensure that children who commit nonviolent or minor offenses are met with community-based resources that will prevent them from re-offending.

Juvenile Bill Makes Change, Times Leader

A bill signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett last week is the last piece of the juvenile justice puzzle that arose from the “kids for cash” scandal in Luzerne County, local legislators say.

The law gives judges sentencing juveniles convicted for first- and second-degree murder more discretion, makes some “sexting” a crime, closes district judge hearings for juveniles who are charged with a summary offense and allows victim advocates to help crime victims in adult and juvenile court, among other provisions.

“I am very proud of the fact that we have landmark juvenile justice reform with many of the proposals that have been signed into law,” said state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township. “Senate Bill 850 is obviously a final and key piece of that.”

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and co-sponsored by Baker, state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township and others.

Consultation Reflects on Welfare of Juvenile Rape Victims, Kangla Online

A one day consultation on “Child Rights & Juvenile Justice” under the theme “Delivering justice to Rape victims” was held today at the Manipur Voluntary Health Association, Wangkhei Ningthem Pukhri Mapal, Imphal.

The consultation was organized by the Child Welfare Committee, Imphal East and attended by Legal Services Authority, member secy, A Guneshwor Sharma as chief guest, senior advocate, Kh Mani Singh as president and CRY, Kolkata sr manager Ashim Kumar Ghosh as guest of honour.

Addressing the consultation, Ashim Kumar opined that organizing such consultations would be beneficial for the state and its people.

Young Offenders Can Fix Their Lives, Des Moines Register

Wayne Ford knows a thing or two about juvenile crime. As a young teen in Washington, D.C., he and his friends stole money from bus drivers at knifepoint. “We robbed so many the city was forced to require exact change” for riders, he said.

At age 15, he was picked up by police for disorderly conduct. Wanting to get as far away as possible, he headed to Minnesota on a football scholarship. Soon he and teammates were stealing duffel bags full of cigarettes, food and other items from stores.

“I did a lot of dumb things,” he said. “I thought everything was mine.” Police threatened to send him back to the ghetto if the items were not returned. “I was lucky; people gave me options.”

Ford never ended up in court or prison. He turned his life around and earned a bachelor’s degree in education. He became an Iowa lawmaker, founded a nonprofit and was recently asked by Gov. Terry Branstad to serve on a juvenile justice advisory council.

Ford said his work has long been motivated by the way the justice system treats African-Americans. When it was determined Iowa had the nation’s second-highest black incarceration rate, he successfully shepherded through legislation forcing a review of how proposed laws affect minorities. Iowa was the first state in the nation to do this.

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