Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Lawmaker: (Juvenile) Sentencing Reforms Will Stall, The Boston Herald

Gov. Deval Patrick’s sentencing reforms – which include making young first-degree murderers eligible for parole after just 15 years – will face skepticism and resistance on Beacon Hill from lawmakers, a top Democratic lawmaker told the Herald. ‘To restrict a court’s ability (to sentence) to 15 years, is potentially an injustice to public safety, to individuals who are affected by crime and to the decisions of the jury,’ (MA State Rep. Hank) Naughton said.

Patrick is expected to announce a plan today that would dramatically change sentencing guidelines for juveniles.  These include allowing some juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to be eligible for parole after 15 years as well as including 18-year-olds as juveniles. Patrick’s bill also would bar adult trials for juveniles accused of murder.  Patrick claims adding a provision like the 15-year parole eligibility is necessary because of a recent Supreme Court decision (Miller v. Alabama) that ruled that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional.

Ethiopian Women Claim Israel Gave Birth Control Shots Against Will: Program Halted as Scandal Grows Amid Decline in Birth Rate, The Jewish Daily Forward

Following a TV report alleging that Ethiopian Israeli women were being given contraceptive shots against their will, Israel’s Health Ministry has ordered physicians to put a stop to the practice.

A ‘Trippy’ High: Synthetic Drugs (Marijuana) can ‘Change Your Brain’ Users Say, Sun Sentinel

Heart palpitations, anxiety, vomiting, paranoid delusions, violent tendencies, death: That’s the sick high delivered by today’s synthetic drugs (marijuana). “It literally changes your brain, like the way you think,” said one former synthetic-marijuana user, Sam Hathaway, 17, of Pembroke Pines.  “I wanted to do something crazy,” after smoking it, said another, Nico Souberville, 18, of Miramar. “I wanted to hurt someone.”

Despite the health risks, despite the high-profile arrests involving the now-illegal drug, synthetic marijuana continues to attract a vulnerable demographic: Young, male and on the hunt for an easily accessible high. In numbers that mirror national statistics, poison information calls about synthetic marijuana more than doubled across South Florida in 2011, to 103 from 47 the year before, according to the Florida Poison Information Center in Miami. 2012 saw 106 cases.  About 70 percent of synthetic marijuana users were male, said Wendy Stephan, the center’s health education coordinator. The average age: 24.

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