Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Blog

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Colorado: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings, National Juvenile Defender Center and the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition

Under Catania Bill, Parents Could be Charged if Teen Child Misses Too Many School Days, Washington Post

D.C. Council member David A. Catania proposed legislation Tuesday that would change standards for when parents can be held criminally liable if their children miss too many school days.  Under the proposal, the Office of the Attorney General would be required to prosecute parents if their child has 20 or more unexcused absences in a year. Four of 13 council members have co-sponsored the plan.

The Predatory Justice of Juvenile Sex Offender Laws, Inside Vandy

When lawmakers crafted laws to combat sexual violence, they probably never expected that children as young as 10 would end up on public sex offender registries. Law enforcement probably never expected that they would have to notify neighbors that a 13-year-old sex offender lived nearby. . . Though the judicial system tends to distinguish between youth and adult offenders, 35 states subject minors convicted of sex crimes to the same registration, notification and restrictions as adults. Seven states require juveniles to stay on the registry for life. These crimes aren’t always violent, either: A recent Human Rights Watch report notes that teens have found their way onto sex offender registries for benign acts like sexting, public urination and consensual sex with other teens.

In fact, 36 percent of all sex offenders who victimize children are themselves juveniles — and more than half of these juvenile offenders are 14 years old or younger, according to a recent study commissioned by the Department of Justice. It is understandable that laws should be created to curb sexual violence — but imposing the stigma of longtime and sometimes lifelong sex offender registration on juvenile offenders creates unnecessary harm both to them and their families . . . Registration may also hinder crime rehabilitation of youth offenders. Depriving juvenile offenders of access to education, employment, religious services and healthy relationships — all common consequences of sex offender registration — could actually raise the probability that these children become lifelong delinquents. Unfortunately, registration requirements may deter families from reporting sex crimes committed by their child against a sibling for fear of the legal consequences, thus denying access to rehabilitative services.

Department of Juvenile Justice Strengthens Oversight: Monitoring at Residential Programs to Increase in Wake of Milton Abuse Allegations, Pensacola News Journal

In the wake of allegations of abuse by staffers at a girls’ lockup in Milton, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is tightening its oversight of private residential facilities — adding interviews with youths and a partnership with the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation to its monitoring procedures.  The move comes after criticism of the state for evaluating private providers without interviewing teen detainees about how they’re being treated.

Shannon Abbott was arrested after a surveillance video surfaced in which she appeared to slam the teen into a wall, throw her to the ground and pin her . . . The Department of Juvenille Justice also is investigating allegations that Carol Andrus, the Milton program director, grabbed another youth, who was restrained, and threw her down, lacerating her face and ear.

Lake Country Court Considers Alternative Considers Alternative Sentencing, Living Lake Country Reporter

Lake Country Municipal Court officials are exploring the feasibility of using a locally created drug and alcohol abuse prevention program as an alternative sentencing option for teenagers and juveniles convicted of underage drinking or minor drug offenses.  Representatives of Your Choice – Live outlined the details of the program to the court’s operations subcommittee meeting at the Oconomowoc Lake Village Hall last week.

Fines and possibly other penalties associated with convictions of underage drinking or minor drug offenses might be reduced if the offender successfully completes a 12-hour addiction education and counseling program provided by Your Choice – Live, a Hartland-based nonprofit drug and alcohol abuse prevention organization.  The program would also require parents of the offenders to participate in a three-hour family education and counseling program, according to Sandi Lybert, program coordinator for Your Choice – Live.

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