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Saturday, April 30, 2011

2008 there were nearly 500 kids in PA serving life in prison

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08273/915905-85.stm

Acording To the gazette in 2008 there were nearly 500 kids in PA serving life in prison
for crimes committed as juveniles and some convicted by the felony murder rule.
Which is that even though they were not personally responcable for the murder
they were convicted also.

Action Alert! Urge Obama to Appoint an OJJDP Administrator

Action Alert! Urge Obama to Appoint an OJJDP Administrator

It’s been more than two years since President Obama was inaugurated. Yet, no permanent Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has been appointed. OJJDP is the federal agency responsible for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention issues. It is tasked with assisting State and local governments in addressing juvenile delinquency.


YOU can make a difference: Urge the Appointment of an Administrator.

1. If you have only 30 seconds...

· Sign a petition calling for the Administration to appoint a well qualified OJJDP Administrator:

· Sign-on to a letter to the President from your local, state or national organization urging that he make juvenile justice a priority by appointing a permanent Administrator to lead the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention. by emailing organizer@cfyj.org

2. If you can spare a few minutes...
· Email, send or fax a letter
Go To The Site For Directions To The Sample Letter (PLEASE)
http://www.burnsinstitute.org/article.php?id=282

Judge refuses to free 3 in DNA murder case

Judge refuses to free 3 in DNA murder case


A Cook County judge today refused to vacate the convictions of 3 men imprisoned 20 years for the rape and murder of a suburban girl.
( The 3 men were all juveniles at the time of the crime)

Markham District Judge Michele Simmons said she would give prosecutors additional time to complete their investigation of a convicted rapist whose DNA was found on the girl, 14-year-old Cateresa Matthews.

Prosecutors this week said they had reopened their investigation into Matthews’ slaying after defense attorneys said DNA testing done last month linked the convicted rapist to the crime.

Five teenagers were convicted in the slaying and rape, and three of them are still serving long prison sentences. DNA does not connect any of the five to the rape and murder, according to their lawyers.

The convicted rapist linked to the case by DNA was taken into custody this week on unrelated drug charges, but he has not been charged in connection with Matthews' murder and rape, according to sources.

Prosecutors said they are not yet prepared to throw out the convictions of the five men, who were teens when they were charged with Matthews' rape and murder.

In a recent interview, Robert Taylor, one of the three men still in prison for Matthews' murder and rape, said he was cautiously optimistic that he would be cleared of wrongdoing and released from state prison. James Harden and Jonathan Barr also hope to be freed.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-judge-keeps-3-in-prison-in-1991-murder-case-20110415,0,2306404.story>>

Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr, and James Harden Awaiting Justice
DNA evidence has proven that CWCY client Robert Taylor, and four other teenagers, are entirely innocent of a 1991 rape-murder. Taylor, and two other co-defendants, await a circuit court judge's ruling on their motion to vacate their convictions and release. The CWCY was shocked to learn that the Cook County State's Attorney's office is objecting to their motion despite the extraordinary DNA evidence. All five defendants were teenagers, aged 15-17, when charged.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Juveniles In The Adult Criminal System In Texas

is is from the news release announcing the report:

LBJ School Senior Lecturer Michele Deitch has published a new report titled Juveniles in the

Adult Criminal Justice System in Texas (LBJ School of Public Affairs, 2011). The report provides

a comprehensive look at Texas’s methods for dealing with the state’s most serious juvenile

offenders. It gathers all available Texas data with respect to certified juveniles—those youth who

are transferred to adult criminal court—and compares them to the population of determined

sentence juveniles who are retained in the juvenile justice system. The report also compares the

significant differences in programming and services for the two populations of juvenile

offenders—those who get sent to adult jails and prisons, and those who receive placements in

the Texas Youth Commission (TYC).

The report and its findings are especially timely during the Texas Legislature’s ongoing effort to

reform and restructure the state’s juvenile justice system.

Among the report’s most significant findings about juveniles transferred to the adult system are

these:

Minimal differences exist between certified juveniles in the adult criminal justice system and

determinate sentence juveniles in TYC, except for county of conviction.
Certified juveniles do not represent the “worst of the worst”—they are neither more violent nor

more persistent in their criminal behavior than those retained in juvenile court and sent to TYC.
While the large majority of certified juveniles have committed violent offenses, only 17% have

committed homicide.
About 15% of juveniles transferred to adult court are charged with non-violent felonies, including

state jail offenses.
72% of certified juveniles do not have a prior violent criminal history,
29% of certified juveniles are first-time offenders.
89% of certified juveniles have never been committed to TYC, indicating that most certified

youth have never had the opportunity to benefit from effective rehabilitative programs in the

juvenile justice system, such as TYC’s highly regarded Capital and Serious Violent Offenders

Program, which has a 95% success rate.
The report also examines what happens when juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails in

Texas. National research shows that housing juveniles in adult prisons and jails compromises both

public safety and the personal safety of the youth. Juveniles housed in adult prisons and jails

face vastly higher risks of suicide, sexual assault, physical assault, and mental illness, and they

have been shown to have a 100% higher risk of violent recidivism.

In Texas, juveniles as young as 14 who are certified as adults and awaiting trial are sent to adult

county jails, where they can languish in isolation for periods of a year or more.

Brandi Grissom writes, "Report: Hundreds of Youths in Adult Prisons," for the Texas Tribune,

today.

Texas judges, particularly in Harris County, are sending hundreds of adolescent, first-time violent

offenders to state prison, a punishment lawmakers intended for youths considered the worst of

the worst, according to a report set for release today.

“Adult jails and adult prisons are simply the wrong place to hold these kids,” says Michele

Deitch, a professor at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs and author of the

report "Juveniles in the Adult Criminal Justice System in Texas."

And:

From fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2010, Texas courts certified nearly 1,300 youths as adults.

During that same time, about 860 youths received determinate sentences. According to the

report, though, there was little difference in the criminality among youths sentenced to the adult

system and those who were sent to youth facilities. In both cases, the majority committed a

violent crime like aggravated robbery or sexual assault, and had one or no previous juvenile

court cases.

In most cases, the obvious difference was where the offender was tried. Harris County courts

certified twice as many juvenile offenders as adults as any other county over the four-year time

period studied. Judges in Harris County certified 301 youths as adults. Dallas County, by

comparison, certified 141 offenders as adults during the same time period.

The problem with sending so many youths to adult facilities, particularly those who are not

repeat violent offenders, is that they are not designed to rehabilitate and educate adolescents,

Deitch said. Youths who are sent to adult prisons, she said, have a 100 percent greater risk of

committing future violent offenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They are also

more likely to develop mental health problems in prison, to be physically and sexually assaulted

and to commit suicide.

http://standdown.typepad.com/weblog/2011/03/juveniles-in-the-adult-criminal-justice-system-in-texas.html

Teen To Be Charged As An Adult: For School Break In

Teen to be tried as adult for break-in at Morgan County High School
Submitted by editor on Mon, 03/21/2011 - 16:59. More News & Features
By Patrick Yost
Editor

Mentavious Jackson, 16, Madison, will be tried as an adult following his arrest for the January 10, 2011 break-in at the Morgan County High School.
A Morgan County Grand Jury has indicted Jackson for two counts of burglary, one count interference of government property and one count participating in criminal gang activity. Jackson was arrested on January 20 after Sgt. Mike Ghioto, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, consulted with a Madison police officer who had responded to a domestic argument incident involving Jackson. During that incident the officer noted that Jackson was in possession of a large bag of Gatorade, M&M candies and Skittles, all items that were allegedly taken from the high school during the break–in.
Ghioto said following the arrest Jackson confessed to participating in the burglary.
School video captured five males entering the high school in the middle of a snow and ice storm. The men vandalized several offices and class rooms in the school and spray painted a six pointed star and “MOE” on walls at the school. Capt. Chris Bish, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, said “MOE” is an acronym for a popular rap song entitled “Money Over Everything.”
Authorities are contending that the star and “MOE” constitute gang–related activity.
On February 23 an order to transfer Jackson’s case to Superior Court, effectively considering him an adult, was signed.
By charging Jackson with participating in criminal gang activity authorities will seek severe penalties. According to Alison Burleson, assistant district attorney, Ocmulgee Judicial District, if convicted of the charge Jackson could face, in addition to any other sentencing, imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 15 years or a fine of not less than $10,000 nor more than $15,000 or both.
Burleson said Jackson will be tried as an adult, in part, because of the extent of damage at the school which costs thousands of dollars to repair and because of the “obvious nexus to gang activity.”
“It is our desire to send a clear message that this kind of activity will not be tolerated in Morgan County,” Burleson said.

Printed in the March 17, 2011 edition

http://morgancountycitizen.com/?q=node%2f16960

Teen Found Dead In Alantia Ga Jail

Teen Found Dead In GA> Jail
Pelham, GA - By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A Fulton County teen serving time in a south Georgia jail was found dead and authorities aren't sure how he died.

A jailer at Pelham Jail discovered the 17-year-old's Fabian Avery unresponsive during a routine walk-through Friday morning.

He was in an isolation cell at the facility which is contracted to house inmates from metro Atlanta cities and counties.

The Fulton County inmate was removed from the general inmate population to be monitored.

"At the request of the medical staff he had been having some medical issues and they wanted to monitor his food intake," said Inv. Rod Williams, Pelham Police Dept.

Investigators say Avery had no known medical problems and there was no sign of foul play.

An autopsy will be done Monday to determine the exact cause of death.

Avery was in Pelham awaiting transfer to state prison to serve a 13-year sentence on armed robbery and aggravated assault charges.

http://www.walb.com/story/14284184/atlanta-teen-dies-in-pelham-jail?redirected=true

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes

The following excerpts are from "The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes January 1973 - December 31, 2004" by Professor Victor L. Strieb, former Dean and Professor of law at Ohio Northern University, now at Elon University Law School. The report is a comprehensive quarterly review of juveniles on death row in the United States, and the modern history of the death penalty in the United States as it relates to juvenile defendants. These excerpts are reprinted with permission.



OVERVIEW OF THOSE WHO WERE UNDER JUVENILE DEATH SENTENCES


-----------------------------------------------------

As of December 31, 2004, 71 persons were on death row for juvenile crimes. These 71 condemned juveniles constituted about 2% of the total death row population of 3,487. Although all were ages 16 or 17 at the time of their crimes, their current ages range from 18 to 43. They were under death sentences in 12 different states and had been on death row from 4 months to 24 years. Texas had by far the largest death row for juvenile offenders, holding 29 (40%) of the national total of 72 juvenile offenders.

All of the juvenile offenders who were on death row are male and had been convicted and sentenced to death for murder. w.

Over three-quarters of these cases involved 17 year old offenders, and two-thirds of them were offenders of color.

*States:That Have Executed Juveniles*

1}VIRGINIA (1)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: January 19, 2000)
2}TEXAS (29)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: August 28, 2002)
3}SOUTH CAROLINA (3)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: January 10, 1986)
4}PENNSYLVANIA (2)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: December 4, 1916)
5}NORTH CAROLINA (4)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: October 30, 1942)
6}MISSISSIPPI (5)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: May 25, 1950)
7}LOUISIANA (4)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: May 18, 1990)
8}GEORGIA (2)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: December 7, 1993)
9}FLORIDA (3)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: November 8, 1954)
10}ARIZONA (4)
(Last Execution of a Juvenile: July 6, 1934)
11}ALABAMA (13)
(Last Juvenile Execution: November 24, 1961)

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/juvenile-offenders-who-were-death-row
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
There are currently 72 juveniles on death row throughout the United States -- a third of them in Texas. Since 1985, 22 children who were under the age of 18

http://crime.about.com/od/juvenile/a/juvenile040722.htm

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Juveniles Raped In Adult Prison Face 'Death Sentence' of HIV

Turning Tony into Tonya; j
Juveniles Raped In Adult Prison face 'Death Sentence' of HIV
National Catholic Reporter, Nov 19, 2004 by Jens Soering


By now Tony is back in your world. He finished his sentence in 2001. I called him a serial killer in the opening sentence only because that is what he became in prison. Before his arrest and incarceration, he had been a fairly average 16-year-old Army brat who, unfortunately, had stabbed another kid on high school property at a time when school shootings were a major news item. So the prosecutor tried Tony as an adult for malicious wounding--"Tough on crime!"--and a bunch of sex-starved convicts got a new toy for a few years. A lethal toy. A toy that-is back on your streets now.

Tony's story is far from rare in a correctional system that houses 2.1 million inmates nationally. During a hearing on the Prison Rape Reduction Act in July 2002, a former state attorney general testified that "anywhere from 250,000 to 600,000" prisoners were forced to have sex against their will each year. The result is an HIV infection rate of at least 8.5 percent in New York state's correctional system, which tests its inmate population more rigorously than others. By comparison, the estimated-infection rate for the civilian U.S. population is 0.3 percent.

Judging by my 18 years of penitentiary experience, those 250,000 to 600,000 inmate rape victims include nearly all juveniles like Tony who are sent to adult facilities. There were 14,500 such boys and girls held in adult jails and prisons in 1997, the last year for which total figures are available. Given the significant growth in the U.S. correctional population since then, that number is certainly higher today.

All 50 states currently allow at least some defendants under age 18 to be handled by the adult criminal justice system. A 16-year-old in prison is automatically a "boy"--penitentiary slang for sex slave.

And once he has been infected with HIV, he is a dead boy. So the prosecutorial decision to apply for a juvenile-to-adult court transfer in a given criminal case almost always amounts to the de facto imposition of capital punishment on the underage defendant.

What is so terribly sad is that the execution by-inmate-rape of thousands upon thousands of juveniles in America's adult prisons is completely unnecessary. It is simply not true that juvenile offenders cannot be rehabilitated. In the federally supervised Violent Juvenile Offender Program, for example, skilled case managers in Detroit and Boston helped youths leaving prison to find jobs and to develop positive social relationships in a "graduated reentry." This holistic approach lowered recidivism rates consistently and significantly even for the toughest of inner city youths.

The key to all successful therapeutic and rehabilitative programs is emphasis on the youth's social environment instead of his or her deficiencies only. If a young delinquent's single mother is addicted to drugs and suffering from clinical depression, for instance, treatment team members ensure that the parent gets counseling and social service support and thus becomes able to provide the nurture her child needs.

Yet 60 percent of state juvenile justice spending goes to house youthful offenders in institutions while only 4 percent of funds are devoted to aftercare treatment. In fact, half of America's juvenile prisons do not even provide those minimal correctional education services mandated by state and federal law--never mind any kind of therapy. And for those youthful offenders sent to adult penitentiaries like Tony, the situation is even grimmer: 26 percent of them are released without so much as a ninth-grade education, and 90 percent leave prison without a high school diploma or GED.
He Is HIV-positive, like so many inmates. Long ago, one of the convicts who had forced sex on him had infected him..

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_5_41/ai_n9510448/

Friday, April 8, 2011

Children Routinely Held in Pre-Trial Solitary Confinement in Texas

Children Routinely Held in Pre-Trial Solitary Confinement in Texas
October 22, 2010
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway
SolitaryWatch

One of this year’s Molly Prizes–named for the late journalist Molly Ivins, and sponsored by the Texas Observer–has gone to a powerful story about teenagers held in solitary confinement in adult jails in Texas, before they have been tried or convicted of any crime. Chris Vogel’s story “For Their Own Good” appeared in the Houston Press in June. The piece begins with the story of a boy named George.


For the past six months, George has been living alone in a small cell on the second floor of the Harris County jail awaiting trial on charges of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors say he was one of a group of boys who robbed and assaulted a married couple at gunpoint.

George (not his real name) has been held in isolation 23 hours a day even though he has not been convicted of a crime.

He is 15 years old.

He desperately misses his mom.

In most cases, teens ages 14 to 16 would be held before trial in the county’s juvenile facility, but George has been certified to stand trial as an adult, which means he is housed across the street at the “Big Jail.”

Authorities say that to keep George and other juveniles like him safe from older, hardened criminals in the general population, George should spend his days in near solitary confinement.

But this decision to protect juveniles may actually make life much worse for them, critics say.

Liz Ryan, Director of Youth Justice, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., says data shows that juveniles are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than a juvenile detention facility and 19 times more likely to kill themselves in isolation than in general population.

Vogel tells the story of another teen whose case never even went to trial. But before it was dropped, the 16-year-old had spent a year in isolation, which he described as “mental agony.”


“It made me want to act crazy,” he says, “but I knew I wasn’t a crazy person. I know that in their eyes we’re adults and criminals, but at the same time, we’re very young and we haven’t been convicted. We’re just sitting there. You get crazy thoughts, like you want to hurt somebody or hurt yourself.”

Vogel’s investigation found that in 2008, 83 teens in Harris County were “certified” to stand trial as adults. Since in many cases their families cannot afford bail, they remain in jail awaiting trial, where they are often placed in solitary confinement “for their own protection.”

“The treatment of these kids has slipped under the radar,” Vogel writes. “Even the judges who certify them as adults and many county officials seem unaware that this legal determination sends the teens to isolation.” He points out: ”They have not been convicted of anything, yet their treatment — the isolation — is akin to the severe, short-term punishment of adult prisoners who have already been condemned. And there they sit, for months, even years, before ever going to trial.”

The rest of the article examines the certification process (which is little more than a rubber stamp), the laws that keep these kids in adult jails instead of juvenile facilities, and the conditions in which they live. It also looks at arguments on the effects of soltiary confinement on children–which, as you might imagine, can be profound. Vogel ends with the story of another boy, called Diego.


Like George, Diego says time drones on, blending into one seamless, never ending day. He is bored constantly. So bored, he says, that some days he can’t even concentrate to read. Occasionally, he catches himself talking to himself out loud. At times he’s thought he was hallucinating. Like many other teens in segregation, he’ll beat on his cell door and try to start a riot, “sometimes because we didn’t get our full hour out of our cell and sometimes because there’s nothing else to do.”

He says he can’t wait to turn 17 and get placed in with other inmates, or get convicted and go to prison, just so he can escape the isolation.

“The worst thing is the pain of being alone in my cell 23 hours a day,” he says. “This is the worst place I have ever been.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the 1990’s most states passed laws that made it easier to try, sentence, and incarcerate youth in the adult criminal system. Today an estimated 200,000 youth are prosecuted into the adult criminal justice system each year. Research shows that youth incarcerated in adult jails and prisons face an increased risk of being physically, mentally, and sexually assaulted or abused. Prosecuting kids as adults also increases the likelihood that they will reoffend. We now have a unique window of opportunity to impact state and federal policies– but that window is closing so we must act quickly. Contact us a find out the things you can do to help be a voice for youth in your state. jointhemovement@cfyj.org

MS youth prison has violent, abusive conditions

MS youth prison has violent, abusive conditions
ColorOfChange.org :
3 March 2011

This youth prison has violent, abusive conditions
But the company that runs it makes millions
Join us in calling on Mississippi officials to shut down this prison:

Teenagers and young men locked up at the youth prison in Walnut Grove, Mississippi live in a nightmarishly abusive and violent environment.

According to a lawsuit against the prison, guards have sold drugs to the youth there, engaged in sexual relationships with them, beaten them while they are handcuffed and defenseless, and looked the other way as some inmates are brutally attacked by others.1 The prison is privately-run, and its management has tried to increase their profits by cutting essential safety, health and educational services.

It's sick. Mississippi shouldn't be paying a private company to neglect and abuse youth prisoners. Will you join us in demanding that Mississippi officials cancel the state's contract with the company that operates the prison? It takes just a moment: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/geo/

Two youths have lost their lives in the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility over the past three years and countless others endure daily threats to their safety. The violence at the prison was highlighted a year ago when a melee broke out in the prison, leaving multiple youth injured and 21-year-old Michael McIntosh with permanent brain damage.2

Ross Walton, who spent three years inside the Walnut Grove prison said this when he testified recently in front of the Miss. State Legislature:

“Walnut Grove treated us like we were nothing. Like we didn’t matter. Like our destiny was to spend the rest of our lives locked up, making more money for the private prison corporations and making our mothers cry….We have the potential to turn our lives around and make you proud. And we all deserve more than an abusive prison that cares more about profits than people.”

A for-profit youth prison, like Walnut Grove, has a strong financial incentive to imprison as many young people as possible on the cheap, and a financial disincentive to rehabilitate prisoners (which would reduce the demand for prison beds). This profit motive is a big part of why the Walnut Grove prison has such terrible conditions.

The prison is run by the GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut), the second largest for-profit prison company in the country. The company makes hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and has a long history of health and safety violations in their facilities.

A systemic problem

We’ve seen before how private prisons create openings for corruption and abuse. In the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a private juvenile prison company bribed two judges to fill their cells with youth who committed minor infractions. One of the judges, Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr., was recently convicted of accepting bribes and kickbacks for putting juveniles into detention centers. He and another judge, Michael Conahan, are said to have received $2.6 million for their scheme.3

In Boise Idaho, guards at a corporate prison watched, but did not intervene as a man was beaten unconscious by another inmate. This victim now lives with permanent brain damage and the company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), faces an FBI Civil Rights investigation.4

Ending the abuse at Walnut Grove

Some of the youth imprisoned at Walnut Grove have committed serious crimes, but 67% of them are there for non-violent offenses.5 But no matter what crime they've committed, children’s lives shouldn’t be at risk because corporations cut corners in order to increase their profits. Youth prisoners must be given safe and healthy conditions, and an opportunity to lead successful lives after their incarceration.

The abuse at Walnut Grove needs to end immediately and the youth there should be moved to facilities that can provide for their care and rehabilitation. Your voice can help make that happen. Please join us in calling on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and the Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner, to cancel the state's contract with the GEO Group. And please ask your friends and family to do the same. It just takes a minute:
http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/geo/

Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
March 2nd, 2011

Help support our work. ColorOfChange.org is powered by YOU -- your energy and dollars. We take no money from lobbyists or large corporations that don’t share our values, and our tiny staff ensures your contributions go a long way. You can contribute here:
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/205?akid=1923.157987.-12v27&t=6

References:
1. "Federal Lawsuit Reveals Inhumane Conditions at For-Profit Youth Prison," SPLC, 11-16-2010
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/759?akid=1923.157987.-12v27&t=8

2. "C.B., et al. v. Walnut Grove Correctional Authority, et al." SPLC, 11-16-2010
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/760?akid=1923.157987.-12v27&t=10

3. "The verdict’s in, let change begin," The Times Leader, 2-20-2011
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/765?akid=1923.157987.-12v27&t=12

4. "'The public doesn't know what goes on behind these walls,'" KBOI, 2-28-2011
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/762?akid=1923.157987.-12v27&t=14

5. "Federal lawsuit seeks to end years of physical, sexual abuse of teenage inmates," Better Mississippi Report, 12-20-2010
http://act.colorofchange.org/go/763?akid=1923.157987.-12v27&t=16