Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Indian Judge Bans Reporting on Trial of 5 Men in Gang Rape Case, New York Times

A judge on Monday banned reporting on the New Delhi trial of a gang rape case that has attracted worldwide attention, responding to a chaotic courtroom crammed with members of the news media and a large number of female lawyers who said no one should represent the accused.

The authorities have charged the men with murder, rape and other crimes that could bring the death penalty to the five adults, news services reported. The sixth, who is 17 years old, is expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.

Comment: Amend the Juvenile Law (in India) for Crimes Like Rape, MailOnline India

The conference of Chief Secretaries and DGPs on crimes against women has made the position of the states clear on several issues thrown up by the recent gangrape incident in the capital. The Centre and the states are one over the need to lower the age below which an individual is deemed a juvenile from 18 to 16.

Women and child development minister Krishna Tirath is right in proposing that individuals below 18 should be prosecuted like adults in case of crimes like rape. This is somewhat the system in the United States and the United Kingdom and it will ensure that criminals like the juvenile accused do not escape punishment like he will.

State (Maine) Wants to Lock Up Offenders in their 20s Alongside Juveniles, Bangor Daily News

A Maine Department of Corrections proposal to change a state law that bars young adults from being housed in juvenile facilities won preliminary support from an unexpected source — the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

Giving young adult inmates access to teachers and programs available at the juvenile facilities would improve their chances of making successful transitions into society, according to Breton.  “It would allow us to provide more specific training to that age group. There’s been a lot of research showing that brain development isn’t complete until age 25,” she said.

Mackie suspects a different motive. “The commissioner wants to close a facility and spread inmates around in juvenile facilities,” he said, questioning whether corrections staff could buffer incarcerated teens and children from negative influences of young adult inmates. “[Commissioner Joseph Ponte] wants to shrink the Department of Corrections and consolidate prison functions.”

“It’s not a plan to close facilities,” she said. “It is to better utilize facilities and programs. There would be no intermingling whatsoever.” The Department of Corrections’ population of inmates between 18 and 25 years old numbers about 230, Breton said. Administrators have yet to determine how many inmates would be appropriate for relocation to youth facilities if the Legislature approves the proposal.

“We would want to be selective,” she said. “If they are serving a long time, they would not be the people you would want to put there. This is primarily for rehabilitative services.”

Video Games are Not What Kill People, Tampa Bay Times

There is no body of social scientific evidence demonstrating that violent video games are the cause of violent acts or turn a peaceful person into an aggressor in real life . . .

The research on the topic was well considered just two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court when the majority struck down a California law criminalizing sales of violent video games to minors as unconstitutional. The court looked at the competing psychological studies, including the work of Dr. Craig Anderson — the researcher that California chiefly relied upon. Anderson claims to have found that children exposed to these games have heightened feelings of aggression in the few minutes after playing. But he also acknowledged that about the same effects are produced when children are exposed to violence on television, including in Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons, or when they’re shown a picture of a gun.

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