Follow by Email

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Report Calls for an End to Child Prosecutions In Adult Court

August 19, 2010

News from NJJN

Advances & News in the Field

Louisiana Governor Signs Juvenile Justice Bills Mandating Educational Reform and Standards for Detention Centers

Oklahoma and Rhode Island Work to Reduce Disproportionate Representation of Minorities in Juvenile Justice System

New Jersey Creates Juvenile Transfer Task Force While New Report Calls for an End to Child Prosecutions in Wyoming Adult Courts

Four of New York State’s Youth Prisons to Be Placed Under Federal Oversight

New Reports & Research

NJJN Releases New Policy Paper Detailing Opportunities for Reform During Difficult Fiscal Times

NJJN Publishes Guide to Creating and Sustaining Meaningful Family Partnerships in Juvenile Justice Reform

NJJN’s Latest Policy Platform Offers Recommendations for Strengthening Reentry and Aftercare Services for Youth

New Report from Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana Calls Attention to Needs of System-Involved LGBT Youth

Justice Policy Institute Brief Examines the Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System

Article in Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy Offers Lessons Learned in Juvenile Justice

New Research on Messaging Offers Tips for Telling More Effective Stories

Media of Note

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Publishes Articles Calling for Elimination of Valid Court Order Exception in JJDPA

ABC Primetime Segment on Missouri DYS Wins Silver Gavel Award for Television from American Bar Association

Sentencing Project Launches Juvenile Justice Web page

Job Opportunities

Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center Seeks Interim Director

Community Justice Network for Youth Seeks Regional Managers

Just Detention International Seeks Program Assistant

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Seeks Membership Director and Federal Policy Deputy Director

Upcoming Conferences

Registration Open for 2010 Coalition for Juvenile Justice National DMC Conference

Advances & News in the Field

Louisiana Governor Signs Juvenile Justice Bills Mandating Educational Reform and Standards for Detention Centers

With strong support from NJJN members and partners, including Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, Louisiana’s governor signed SB 527 (Act 136) on June 8. This law requires local school districts to provide certain class management training to teachers, principals, and other school personnel to support student behavior and discipline in a more positive way. The training is to include positive behavioral supports and reinforcement, conflict resolution, mediation, cultural competence, restorative practices, guidance and discipline, and adolescent development. Policies incorporating positive behavioral supports and restorative justice principles are also now required for charter schools pursuant to HB 1487 (Act 756), signed by Gov. Jindal on June 29 and also supported by NJJN members and partners. Additionally, the introduction of SB 628, a bill to require implementation of an evidence-based positive behavioral support discipline program and to encourage alternatives to student expulsion and arrest, led to a study resolution that will create a task force to study the bill and redraft it. Click here to learn more about a new book on the issue of school discipline (“Homeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear,” Aaron Kupchik).

Finally, on June 30, Louisiana's governor signed HB 1477 (Act 863), which establishes a plan and timeline for juvenile detention center licensing standards and implementation throughout Louisiana. The standards will establish a baseline for all facilities to operate more effectively, and provide oversight through compliance monitoring. Click “Read more” to visit NJJN’s Web page for Louisiana.

[Read more]
Oklahoma and Rhode Island Work to Reduce Disproportionate Representation of Minorities in Juvenile Justice System

In Oklahoma, a number of agencies recently came together to sign a memorandum of understanding for the Tulsa County Disproportionate Minority Contact Reduction Initiative. The Tulsa Community Service Council is using a $75,000 grant from the Office of Juvenile Affairs’ State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to launch a long-term project to reduce the number of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. The project will focus on all entry points into the system, not just confinement. Click here to read an article from the Tulsa World regarding the Initiative (“Youth Prosecutions Targeted: Area Agencies Will Pool Their Efforts to Reduce the Number of Minorities in the Juvenile Justice System,” Ginnie Graham, June 28).

Rhode Island for Community and Justice has been leading a statewide advisory committee to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) through activities such as formulating standard guidelines for school resource officers, creating cultural competency training for police officers and others, and helping to restart the juvenile hearing board in Providence. The committee bases its work on a 2007 state-commissioned study that found white juveniles were less likely to be referred to Family Court than black juveniles for violent or potentially violent misdemeanors, at a rate of 65 percent to 79 percent, respectively. Click here to read an article from The Providence Journal regarding the advisory committee’s work (“Drive on to Reduce Rate of Minority Juvenile Offenders in R.I.,” Talia Buford, June 23).

Click here to learn more about NJJN’s member in Rhode Island, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. Click “Read more” to visit NJJN’s Web page on DMC.

[Read more]
New Jersey Creates Juvenile Transfer Task Force While New Report Calls for an End to Child Prosecutions in Wyoming Adult Courts

The New Jersey General Assembly passed a bill (A 973) to create a Juvenile Transfer Task Force to study, evaluate, and develop recommendations concerning the transfer of juveniles from the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal justice system. The bill cites a November 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, “Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Youth from the Juvenile to the Adult Justice System,” which finds that youth who are transferred to the adult criminal justice system are 34 percent more likely to reoffend than youth in the juvenile justice system. The task force must report its findings and recommendations within 12 months of the first organizational meeting.

A new report from the National Center for Youth Law, an NJJN partner, and the American Civil Liberties Union – Wyoming Chapter condemns Wyoming for commonly prosecuting children in adult courts, often for minor infractions such as smoking at school or stealing a pack of gum (“A Call to Stop Child Prosecutions in Wyoming Adult Courts,” Pat Arthur, Mikaela Rabinowitz and Jennifer Horvath, June 2010). The report notes that Wyoming stands apart from other states, trying 85 to 90 percent of youth in trouble with the law in adult courts.

Life Without Parole

Life without parole for children? -- San Diego Union Tribune
It is easy to understand the pain, anguish and desire for justice of people
who have suffered the loss of a loved one to violent crime. But justice is
not always easy to define. Virtually all first-degree murders are vicious
and senseless, almost by definition. A sentence of life without the
possibility of ever even being considered for parole is often the correct
definition of justice. But what if the killer was under 18 – a child under
the law? What if he or she had never before been in serious trouble? The U.S
Supreme Court has already ruled that killers under 18 cannot be subject to
the death penalty. But what about life without parole?

Legislature should pass Fair Sentencing for Youth Act -- Los Angeles Times
The Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, written by state Sen. Leland Yee (D- San
Francisco), would allow courts to review the cases of juveniles sentenced to
life without parole after they have served 10 years and allow some to be
resentenced to 25 years to life. Already passed by the Senate, the bill is
scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly on Thursday. What SB 399 would do
is bring California into closer accord with civilized sentencing norms and
standards. No other country sentences juveniles to life without parole. Yet
there are at least 270 serving such sentences in California prisons. SB 399
would also begin to align sentencing for juveniles with scientific evidence
about their neurological capabilities.

Computers can't replace human judgments here -- LA Daily News
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has quietly
embarked on a new and dangerous paradigm shift that replaces human judgment
with a computer program. Tens of thousands of critical parole decisions
regarding dangerous felons are now being made by a computer, rather than
parole experts. Under the new nonrevocable parole policy championed by CDCR,
state parolees who qualify are exempt from parole supervision and cannot be
sent back to prison for any parole violation. Because the public safety
consequences of releasing a felon onto NRP status are so dramatic,
determining who gets NRP should be made with the utmost care by parole
experts, not a computer.

CLICK HERE to read these stories and more at CDCR-STAR!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

S.C.Teen Heads To Adult Prison

Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010
SC teen who killed neighbor going to adult prison:
GREENVILLE, S.C. — A South Carolina teenager who raped and killed an 8-year-old neighbor is being transferred to adult prison to serve the rest of his 25-year sentence.
The Greenville News reports Samuel Young III is scheduled to be transferred from juvenile detention Wednesday, his 17th birthday.

Young pleaded guilty in May to involuntary manslaughter and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the July 2008 death of Dymia Janae Woody. He was 14 at the time but charged as an adult.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Pennsylvania's Locking Up Kids For LIFE* LWOP

. Three cases involve robberies ending in murder committed by a codefendant. What does it say about a society that locks up juveniles and says they have no chance for redemption, rehabilitation, and change? Are prisons places to educate, discipline, and reform inmates - correctional institutions - or are they human warehouses to incarcerate people until they die? Joseph Ligon was 15 when he and five boys from South Philadelphia went on a crime spree, killing two men and stabbing six others. Ligon was sentenced to life without parole. In 1953. He's now 73. He has spent more than half a century in prison, mostly at Graterford.
"It's simply wrong to look upon him as the same person who committed the crimes," says Bradley S. Bridge of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. "He has done all that we, as a society, would want him to do," adding that "he's gone through rehabilitation." The Supreme Court's May decision and its 2005 ruling banning capital punishment of juveniles cite neuroscientific evidence of the developmental difference between children and adults. "Their brains are not fully formed. They don't understand the consequences of their actions. They're more susceptible to peer pressure," Bridge argues.

Pennsylvania's juvenile incarceration rate is so high because the state requires LWOP for all defendants convicted of first- or second-degree murder, whether they are adults or juveniles. This mandate deprives judges of discretionary sentencing. Following the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when juvenile homicide rates soared, the state pushed more teens into the adult system, even for first-time offenses.

. "Punishment without rehabilitation is a failure," says Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R., Montgomery), Judiciary Committee chair, who has held hearings on juvenile sentencing. "Everybody's entitled to second chances." Many inmates have committed horrible crimes. No one is protesting their innocence."

*Jacobson is handling the petition of John Pace, who committed a second-degree felony in Philadelphia at 17, during a robbery, assaulting a victim who later died. Upon advice of counsel, Pace pleaded guilty, believing he would receive a reduced sentence. Instead, he was sentenced to life without parole. A juvenile's failure to grasp the consequences of his actions as well as the complexity of the legal system puts him at a severe disadvantage compared with adults. Pace is now 42, having served almost a quarter-century at Graterford.Yet children grow. Teenagers can be dumb. They can do terribly wrong things. But they can learn."Kids have a capacity for change," says Levick. "They have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults." Children enter the criminal-justice system "without us knowing enough about them at the time of sentencing," she argues. Instead, Levick says, the approach is "let's lock them up and throw away the keys." Last month, State Rep. Kenyatta Johnson (D., Phila.) introduced a bill abolishing juvenile life imprisonment without parole, allowing prisoners to apply at age 31 for parole, then every three years thereafter. Current inmates could appeal for resentencing. Meanwhile, lawyers are hopeful their petitions will prod the judicial system to reexamine sentencing. At age 73, Ligon "looks like somebody's grandfather," Bridge says. "He's no longer a danger to anyone." He's lived almost all of his life in prison. "To continue his incarceration seems cruel and unseemly. It says something rather bad about our society when we do not allow people to demonstrate, by any objective criteria, that they have changed," Bridge says. "It's simply medieval."

Contact columnist Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or


Nicole Pittman, Esq
Juvenile Justice Policy Analyst Attorney
Defender Association of Philadelphia
1441 Sansom Street, Rm 1038
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Direct: 267.765.6766
Fax: 267.765.6993