Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Illinois Debt Crisis Leaves Treatment Centers Strapped, More Kids in Prison,

Illinois is $6 billion in debt and the state’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has lost $250 million of its budget over the last 10 years. The mounting debt and cutbacks have resulted in significant collateral damage for children served by DCFS providers, according to an article in Reflejos:

The cuts have “forced the elimination of programs primarily aimed at preventing child abuse and many of the well-being programs that provide kids with opportunities like summer camp and musical enrichment, which we as legal parents like to provide just [as] any parent would like to provide,” [DCFS] spokesman Dave Clarkin said.

Lutherbrook, a private residential treatment center, cares for about 50 Illinois children aged 8-18 and has received just one funding increase over the past 12 years. Officials for the institution have conceded that the situation is a “struggle.”

MacArthur Pledges New $15 million to Juvenile Justice Reform, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

ATLANTA — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced it will increase its juvenile justice reform funding by some $15 million, a major part of which will be used to establish the new Models for Change Resource Center Partnership.

“Right now there are no go-to places to get the kind of information, resources, toolkits, [and] access to colleagues who have ‘been there done that,’” for would-be juvenile justice reform advocates, said Laurie Garduque, director of justice reform for the MacArthur Foundation.

Garduque said the Partnership aims to be that place people call when they want to make the kind of policy changes the MacArthur Foundation says result in better outcomes for kids and communities: rehabilitation, treatment in home communities and competent legal defense, among other things.

Creating the Partnership is the latest round in nearly two decades of MacArthur research, funding and advocacy on juvenile delinquency treatment and prevention.

Let’s Change How Police Question Young Suspects, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

When I had been practicing in North Carolina’s juvenile courts for about a year, I represented a client charged in the same case as a 13-year-old special-education student named J.D.B. I remember sitting in a large courtroom and watching J.D.B.’s public defender skillfully cross-examine a police investigator.

Weeks earlier, J.D.B. had been pulled out of his social studies class and brought to a school conference room where this same investigator had questioned him for nearly 45 minutes about a string of neighborhood burglaries. Although the assistant principal, an administrative intern and a uniformed officer on detail to the school were also present, no one had contacted J.D.B.’s grandmother, who was his legal guardian, nor was J.D.B. given his Miranda warnings, told he could leave the room or allowed to make a phone call. The boy initially denied any wrongdoing, but after the assistant principal pressured him to “do the right thing” and the police investigator threatened to put him in juvenile detention, he quickly confessed.

N.Y. Film Festival Unites New Yorkers to be Better Fathers, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — They sat in a room, father and son, with cash stacked to the ceiling, seemingly all the money in the world at their fingertips, yet they starved.

This is the story of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, told through the eyes of his son, Sebastian Marroquin in the documentary “Sins of My Father,” one of 10 films showcased at the Fatherhood Image Film Festival over the weekend throughout Harlem and the Bronx. The metaphor, a father and son flush with material wealth but emotionally starved, was one that spoke to the festival’s theme of driving home the importance of a father as something more than just being a breadwinner, but a source of emotional sustenance as well.