Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Time to Revisit Juvenile Sentencing Practices, Daily Press

One year ago, in the case of Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole may not be imposed upon children, even in cases involving a homicide. The court had earlier ruled in Graham v. Florida that minors cannot be sentenced to life without parole in non-homicide cases.

These cases followed the decision in Roper v. Simmons wherein the court ruled that children cannot be executed because it would violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Court noted in that case that brain science and studies of adolescent development make it clear that young people are different from adults in myriad ways, including their ability to comprehend risks and their ability to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. In pointing to these differences, the Court listed specific factors related to the youthfulness of the defendant and other factors that should be weighed when such extreme sentences are being considered for children. These include the child’s age, role in the crime, history of abuse and neglect and other key factors. As Members of Congress who have long worked for change in our nation’s juvenile justice laws, we are pleased that these rulings are forcing states and the U.S. government to reconsider the ways we hold children accountable. We believe these cases require our federal and state governments to reform our juvenile sentencing practices.

Applications for Grants Could Cover 75 Percent of Kids at Risk of Becoming Criminals, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State agencies are reviewing grant applications for programs designed to reach up to 75 percent of the teenagers 16 and under who have been identified as at risk of falling into criminal lives. Though there is not enough money to fund all the requests, the grant proposals have been submitted by 57 counties for local programs that could divert the teens from the juvenile justice system and possibly prison in their adult years.

As part of efforts to reform Georgia’s juvenile justice system, $5 million in state dollars and another $1 million in federal money is being offered to juvenile courts for programs that will address the circumstances that may have pushed some youth to break the law: anger issues, drug or alcohol use or dysfunctional home lives.

Is Your Child Safe While at School?, Family Law Prof Blog

In 2011, the Center for Disease Control collected a wide range of data concerning violence and children within school. While these facts fall short of the horrific events that happened in 2012, the numbers are still cause for great concern. While we strive to implement plans and ideas that can keep our children safe, a large number of children experience the worst parts of life in what should be one of the safest places on the planet for them.

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