Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Cuba Hands Over Hakken Family to US: Boys Head Back to Grandparents, Mom and Dad Cool Heels in Jail, Newser

The Hakken family is back on US soil this morning, after Cuba handed the foursome over to US custody without ado. Josh and Sharyn Hakken, accused of abducting their two sons and sailing off to the island nation, are sitting in a Florida jail; they face charges including kidnapping, grand theft auto, and child neglect, CNN reports. While in Cuba, Josh Hakken freely told CNN who he was, and authorities weren’t sure how they would get the family back to the US. “We would like to express our appreciation to the Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly,” says a US spokeswoman.

Cole, 4, and Chase, 2, will soon be reunited with their maternal grandparents and their dog. Bob and Patricia Hauser have had legal custody of the boys since the Hakkens’ parental rights were terminated earlier this month after authorities responded to a disturbance at a hotel and found the family. The Hakken parents “were acting in a bizarre manner that alarmed officers,” the police report says.  

Students, Civil Rights Groups Say ‘No’ to School Cops, USA Today

As post-Newtown proposals aimed at making U.S. schools safer take shape, civil rights groups are taking an unusual stand, saying “no thanks” to more police in school.  Several groups have already told Congress that more armed officers in schools won’t necessarily make students safer. On March 28, a coalition of young people from across the nation announced its opposition to “the deployment of additional armed guards” in schools.

“We don’t need more guns,” said Judith Brown Diannis of the Advancement Project, a coalition of civil rights groups that supports the students. “We need people who can build relationships with young people.” . . . [They] are pushing for schools to hire more counselors and social workers, saying the threat from outside intruders like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is exceedingly rare. “Unfortunately, when these tragedies happen, we never make the choices that are about the long-term solutions,” she said.

The Obama administration has proposed adding 1,000 more school resource officers (SROs), counselors, social workers and school psychologists. On Jan. 16, President Obama unveiled a “Comprehensive School Safety” program that would give schools and local law enforcement agencies $150 million for new personnel, with the Department of Justice slated to develop a model for SROs.

Colorado Senate Panel Backs Reinstating Eligibility for Rehab Program, The Denver Post

Young offenders could once again qualify for a special program that separates them from the general prison population under a bill passed unanimously out of a Senate committee Monday.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, reinstates provisions that expand the eligibility of offenders — who are either 18 or 19 years old at the time a crime is committed — to the Colorado Department of Corrections’ youth-offender system.  A 2009 law expanded program eligibility — which specializes in rehabilitation efforts centered on education — but an oversight by the Department of Corrections allowed the law to sunset last October . . .

Under [Colorado] Senate Bill 216, young offenders convicted of felonies qualify to be sentenced to what’s billed as a “middle-tier” program between youth and adult corrections in Colorado.

According to the state’s department of corrections, more than 200 young offenders are in the program and can serve up to six years of their sentence in it. Moreover, upon release from the program, 98 percent of offenders earn a GED or high school diploma. In 2011, it cost the department of corrections $15.4 million to run the program . . .

Young offenders, those either 18 or 19 years old, who don’t qualify for the program consist of individuals convicted of Class 1 or 2 felonies or a sexual offense.

Recidivism rates for young offenders who complete the program after three years is about 20 percent, according to the department of corrections.