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Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Child Offender’s Encounter with Blind Justice

Crushed Against the Law: A Child Offender’s Encounter with Blind Justice by Robert Saleem Holbrook “Trust me,” said my attorney confidently, “you’re young with no juvenile detention record, the judge and district attorney will take that into consideration. The death penalty or life without parole is not an option for a juvenile ‘lookout’ to a homicide. You’ll be all right.” Those were my attorney’s words a couple hours before I was sentenced to life without parole for being a ‘lookout’ to a drug-related homicide. I stood there and listened as the judge dispassionately stated that he was not bound by law to take into consideration my age and immaturity in determining the sentence imposed upon me. I honestly believe I would have encountered more sympathy from a hungry pack of tigers than from the judge that sentenced me to LWOP for a crime I participated in, unknowingly at that, at the age of 16. To be straight, I’ve encountered more sympathy from mass murders, rapists and vicious psychopaths in the 18 years I’ve been imprisoned than a child offender will encounter in a Pennsylvania courtroom when charged as an “adult” for committing or participating in a homicide. He or she could not encounter a more ruthless predator than the prosecutor and judge who will stand there and argue with a straight face that the child standing in front of them is not a child but rather an “adult offender” trapped in a child’s body. Before they will even come to develop their sense of humanity and individuality a child offender will stand there and listen, vainly attempting to comprehend, as their humanity and identity as an adolescent is stripped away in a courtroom dedicated to upholding the law and preserving the rights of all people. Children are the most vulnerable segment of any population because their lives and rights are entrusted to the society they belong to. They have no voice for themselves; therefore the law – at least in theory – entrusts their well being to society. However, as it stands now, an abandoned animal garners more sympathy than a child offender charged and sentenced as an adult for participating in or committing a homicide. Does that statement sound extreme? Consider this: in the United States, there are over 2,300 prisoners serving LWOP for participating in or committing a homicide as child offenders. In the rest of the world, there are a total of ZERO. Consider the absurdity of that. A child offender who makes a terrible decision as a youth in the United States would receive a more balanced sense of justice and leniency in countries such as China, Libya, Cuba, and Mexico that they would at home. Countries that habitually violate and disregard human rights extend more protection to their child offenders than the United States which proclaims itself a defender of human rights. Sentencing a child offender to LWOP is a violation of a child’s human rights. No matter what legal language the state employs under the guise of protecting society, a child does not cease being a child despite a terrible decision he/she makes that runs afoul of the law. And what type of society needs protection from its own children? A human right is defined as a basic fundamental right that is inherent. It is not bestowed by the state, it is a universal right that is to be protected by the state and, in extension, by the international community of nations. The United Nation’s Conventional on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Treaty has been signed and ratified by every nation in the world with the exception of the United States and Somalia.# The CRC establishes fundamental rights of children that cannot be infringed upon by the states. The CRC acknowledges the special right of children that reflect their unique vulnerabilities, needs and the affirmative responsibility of governments to protect them. Recognizing a need to address children that run afoul of the law and the need to protect child offenders from draconian or grossly disproportionate sentences, the CRC prohibits sentences that eliminate the ability of child offenders to evolve into better adults and one day re-enter society. Article 37(a) states: Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by person under eighteen years of age. Since the United States has not ratified this treaty this prohibition lands on deaf ears in courtrooms around the United States. Child offenders and their parents still want to believe in vain that the state will develop a conscience and recognize and take into consideration the age and immaturity of their children in the court of law. That ain’t going to happen. Like a lamb before the slaughter they will stand in front of a judge’s bench and have not only their human rights stripped but also their freedom and ability to one day develop into a reformed adult capable of entering society. Just attempt to imagine what it feels like to be a 34 year old man condemned to die in prison for a terrible decision, made under duress, when you were a child? Then being denied the ability to ever demonstrate that the person you are at 34 is not the child you were at 16. A life under a cloud of utter hopelessness perpetually drifts over the head of a prisoner serving LWOP for a crime he committed or participated in as a child offender. He is forever condemned to his past despite the accomplishments and maturity he has developed as an adult. It is no wonder then that the U.N.’s Committee on Torture stated in 2005 that LWOP for child offenders could constitute a violation of the international prohibition against cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment. Picture the absurdity and mental anguish of a child offender sentenced to LWOP and denied the opportunity of parole release for being a “lookout” to a homicide in Pennsylvania watching Charles Manson, a psychopathic mass murderer in California, being granted the ability to appear in front of a parole board every four years to plead his case for release. Consider the absurdity of Dennis Radar, the Kansas BTK serial killer, serving multiple life sentences, being eligible for a parole hearing in forty years or 63-year old Mr. Hilton, who murdered and beheaded a female hiker in Georgia, sentenced to life in prison and who will be eligible for parole in thirty years. How about Darrel Mack who sliced his wife’s throat – thereby killing her – to avoid a divorce settlement and then shot the judge that handled the divorce? He will be eligible for parole in 36 years. And let’s not forget Pennsylvania’s own Theodore Solano, a convicted pedophile, who in 1993 kidnapped and murdered 18 year old Olga Shugar. Solano pled guilty to a deal offered by the state prosecutor’s office that sentenced him to 17-40 years in prison. This is the same state prosecutor’s office that insisted on pursuing the death sentence of LWOP in my situation for being a 16 year old “lookout.” In addition to all of these men being mass murderers, the other thing they have in common is that all of them will have the opportunity to appear before a parole board and plead their rehabilitation while I will never have that opportunity despite having murdered no one. Does it sound wrong that men who murdered should have the opportunity for parole while child offenders who did not murder should be denied the opportunity for parole. Defenders of LWOP would argue that the above examples are the exception not the norm; however, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, they are wrong. Human Rights Watch has documented that in eleven out of the seventeen years between 1985 and 2001, child offenders convicted of murder were more likely to enter prison with LWOP than adult murder offenders. How could the state deal more harshly with child offenders, who as children are not even entrusted with the responsibilities and privileges granted adults, than adult offenders? In what other arena are children held to a more stringent standard of responsibility than adults? A child offender charged as an adult has the absurd burden of proving he or she should be held to the accountability of a minor instead of an adult. Let’s delve deeper into that and further consider its absurdity. Let’s reverse the situation. Suppose an adult throws a tantrum because he or she doesn’t get their way and runs amok destroying property and striking individuals in their presence, an act which results in their arrest for vandalizing and destroying property, disturbing the peace and aggravated assault. Because the adult “acted like a child” and should have “known better,” should he or she be charged as a “child offender” and be subjected to the juvenile justice system for throwing a tantrum? Should he or she be referred to as a delinquent instead of a criminal? If an adult offender attempted to use this reasoning to excuse their behavior they would be laughed out of the courtroom. Yet the same absurd scenario plays itself out in reverse in countless courtrooms across the United States for child offenders charged and sentenced as adults who are held to the responsibility and maturity level of adults because of poor decisions they made as children. Yet, in their case, the consequences are real and no one is laughing. Justice is about punishment, but proportional punishment and not a vengeance-driven sense of justice that is blind to a child offender. Just as it is absurd to hold a child offender to the same level of responsibility and decision-making as adults, it would also be absurd to advocate that child offenders that commit homicide or participate in a homicide be given a slap on the wrist and be sent home. They should be punished in a manner that addresses the seriousness of their offense while recognizing they are children and their lives should not be extinguished and sacrificed at the altar of vengeance. When the law preys on its child offenders – on children it is obligated to protect – it is no better than the criminal predators that prey on children in society, children they are obliged morally to protect. The state’s blind justice when it comes to sentencing child offenders to LWOP, which deliberately ignores their age and immaturity, not only reveals a travesty of justice in the nation’s treatment of its child offenders but also exposes the absurdity of vengeance-driven justice at the expense of the human rights of children crushed against the law in our nation’s courtrooms. God save the children, for surely the law won’t. Robert L. Holbrook #BL-5140 SCI Greene 175 Progress Drive Waynesburg, PA 15370 August 4, 2008

Report Shows Juvenile Lifers Suffering in Solitary Confinement

New Report Shows Juvenile Lifers Suffering in Solitary Confinement January 3, 2012 By Jean Casella and James Ridgeway 5 Comments The United States is the only national in the world that doles out life sentences for crimes committed while the offender was below the age of 18. According to a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch, “approximately 2,570 youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in adult US prisons,” and as inmates they ”experience conditions that violate fundamental human rights.” The report “draws on six years of research, and interviews and correspondence with correctional officials and hundreds of youth offenders serving life without parole,” and presages the Supreme Court’s upcoming review of juvenile LWOP. “Youth offenders are serving life without parole sentences in 38 states and in federal prisons,” HRW reports. “Prison policies that channel resources to inmates who are expected to be released often result in denying youth serving life without parole opportunities for education, development, and rehabilitation.” Among the report’s shocking findings is the fact that “nearly every youth offender serving life without parole reported physical violence or sexual abuse by other inmates or corrections officers.” Unsurprisingly, “Youth offenders commonly reported having thoughts of suicide, feelings of intense loneliness, or depression. Isolation was frequently compounded by solitary confinement. In the past five years, at least three youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in the United States have committed suicide.” In its section on “Protective and Punitive Isolation,” the report finds that “Youth offenders often spend significant amounts of their time in US prisons isolated from the general prison population. Such segregation can be an attempt to protect vulnerable youth offenders from the general population, to punish infractions of prison rules, or to manage particular categories of inmates, such as alleged gang members. Youth offenders frequently described their experience in segregation as a profoundly difficult ordeal.” It continues: “Life in long-term isolation usually involves segregating inmates for 23 or more hours a day in their cells. Offenders contacted by Human Rights Watch described the devastating loneliness of spending their days alone, without any human contact, except for when a guard passes them a food tray through a slot in the door, or when guards touch their wrists when handcuffing them through the same slot before taking them to the exercise room or for a shower once a week. Youth had the same experience and feelings whether they had been isolated to protect or to punish them.” The report’s findings on the use of solitary confinement on juvenile lifers (with corresponding footnotes) appears below. You can also read the full report–which includes a series of recommendations to the president, Congress, corrections officials, and judges–online or as a PDF. Protection that Harms A growing consensus views protective isolation as acceptable only as a last resort and interim measure.[56] Yet isolation is commonly used by prison officials as a quick solution to protection challenges—including the challenge of keeping a young person safe in a prison full of adults. Youth offenders reported to Human Rights Watch that they sometimes sought out protective custody to avoid harm. Occasionally, prison authorities recognize the problems a youth offender is having and take corrective measures. Jeffrey W., who entered prison at age 17, wrote: At the beginning, the focus was on surviving…. Naturally, I was the target of sexual predators and had to fight off a couple rape attempts…. These were hardened, streetwise convicts who had been in prison 10, 15, 20, 30 years and I was a naïve 18-year-old who knew nothing about prison life…. Because of the rape attempts on me … state prison officials said I should have been classified as needing protection. I was soon sent to the state’s protection unit. I stayed there for seven years until I was returned to the general population—older, wiser, and capable of surviving general population.Unfortunately, segregation can exacerbate the lack of opportunities for programs described in more detail later in this report: Right now I’m not receiving no schooling or counseling due to being in ASU Administrative Segretion Unit. They have no schooling for me or etc. They are way out of conduct here. I been asking to receive some GED work but I haven’t receive no responce. I wish to recieve schooling. I learn how to read and write in prison and I want to be successful. I might get out one day.Prolonged periods of isolation can be devastating for anyone, but are especially devastating for young offenders.] Punishment with a Permanent Impact Youth offenders are often placed in long-term isolation or super-maximum security confinement as a disciplinary sanction. Dennis Burbank, an administrative officer at Colorado State Penitentiary, offered an explanation for why youth offenders serving life without parole often end up confined in long-term isolation: One factor is age—when you come in at a young age with life without, there’s not a whole lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Also, it’s kind of a guy thing: the young ones come in with a lot of fear, anxiety, paranoia, and they want to make a name for themselves—so they have a tendency to act out They say [to themselves] ‘I’ve got to impress everyone with what a bad-ass I am.’Long-term isolation can have lasting negative effects on inmates. Troy L. came to prison at age 16 after committing first degree murder at the age of 15. He spent “something like 300 days in an isolation cell” when he was awaiting trial and had been transferred to isolation several times since for “different reasons.” Troy said he had spent so much time in isolation that he was unable to feel comfortable relating to and living around other people, especially now that he was housed in the general population barracks: If you just see what these barracks are like, they got us piled in there like some cockroaches. And I’ve spent so much time over the years … in just cells and lockdown for different reasons. And it’s hard for me to deal with just having so many people around. So much—I can’t think—you know what I mean? Human Rights Watch has systematically documented and advocated against the human rights violations inherent in the incarceration of individuals in super-maximum security prisons throughout the United States.] Segregated living also has long-term psychological implications.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

12-Year-Old To Prison For 25 Years In Indiana

Indiana appeals court raises questions in case that sent 12-year-old to prison for 25 years Paul Henry Gingerich was 12-years-old when he arrived at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in 2011 The future of a boy believed to be the youngest Hoosier ever sentenced to prison as an adult rests now in the hands of three judges who today raised pointed questions about whether his case was handled properly. The Indiana Court of Appeals panel heard 40 minutes of arguments in the case of Paul Henry Gingerich, a 14-year-old who’s been imprisoned the last 2 1/2 years after he pleaded guilty, at age 12, to conspiracy commit murder in the 2010 killing of his friend’s stepfather in Kosciusko County. A decision could take several weeks. The judges’ questions seemed to focus in on whether it was proper that Gingerich’s case was moved out of juvenile court, whether his attorneys had enough time to argue that it should stay and, given all that, his eventual guilty plea wasn’t valid. Gingerich, who is serving time at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility that could keep him in jail until age 24, was not present for the hearing. But his parents, two sisters, grandfather and a host of cousins helped fill the Supreme Court room where the appeals panel heard the arguments. His attorney, Monica Foster, argued that Gingerich -- an 80-pound sixth grader at the time of the crime -- didn’t understand the proceedings well enough for the case to be moved to adult court. She also said the four days his attorneys had to prepare for the waiver-to-adult-court hearing was inadequate -- that defense attorneys in Marion County, by contrast, typically get three months. She said a psychologist who examined the boy was concerned about his competence to stand trial in adult court and that brain research on the development of youth would have aided his case. The three appellate judges -- James S. Kirsch, John G. Baker and Elaine B. Brown -- quizzed Foster on some matters of law, but their most poignant question was about the risks Gingerich faces if they rule in his favor and give him a legal do-over. In other words, if the process is repeated and he’s again moved to adult court -- at age 15 by the time a new case would be heard -- who’s to say he might not get a stiffer punishment?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Resentencing for Michigan Juvenile Lifers

November 16, 2012 appeals court decides *Miller* is *not* retroactive to final juve murder cases As reported in this local article, which is headlined "Appeals Court: No resentencing for Michigan juvenile lifers, but state law is 'unconstitutional'," an intermediate appellate court has now issued a lengthy ruling on *Miller*'s import and impact in the state up north. Here are the basics from the press report: The Michigan Court of Appeals today denied a resentencing request for Raymond Carp, 21, who is serving a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole for a first-degree murder conviction when he was 16.... The ruling invalidated strict sentencing laws in Michigan and other states that treat violent offenders as adults, giving hope to hundreds of inmates serving life terms without hope of parole for crimes they committed as kids. But the three-judge appeals court panel that heard arguments in the Carp case said today that the Supreme Court decision does not apply retroactively to offenders who already have exhausted the direct appeals process. The high court decision "is procedural and not substantive in nature and does not compromise a watershed ruling," they wrote in a 41-page published opinion. Michigan is home to more than 350 juvenile lifers, one of the highest totals in the nation, and today's ruling may be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The appeals court made a point to instruct judges in pending cases that Michigan's current law denying parole is "unconstitutional" when applied to juveniles and urged legislators to revise state statutes to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. The full opinion in *Michigan v. Carp*, No. 307758 (Mich. Ct. App. Nov. 15, 2012), is available at this link; it runs 41-pages with nearly 200 footnotes. Here are the unanimous opinion's final paragraphs: The United States Supreme Court has, through a series of recent decisions culminating in *Miller*, indicated that juveniles are subject to different treatment than adults for purposes of sentencing under the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, we hold that in Michigan a sentencing court must consider, at the time of sentencing, characteristics associated with youth as identified in *Miller* when determining whether to sentence a juvenile convicted of a homicide offense to life in prison with or without the eligibility for parole. While *Miller* does not serve to “foreclose a sentencer’s ability to make that judgment in homicide cases, we require it to take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison.” While *Miller* is applicable to those cases currently pending or on direct review, we find that in accordance with *Teague* and Michigan law that it (1) is not to be applied retroactively to cases on collateral review, such as Carp’s, because the decision is procedural and not substantive in nature and (2) does not comprise a watershed ruling. We urge our Legislature to address with all possible expediency the issues encompassed by and resulting from *Miller* and that necessitate the revision of our current statutory sentencing scheme for juveniles. In the interim, as guidance for our trial courts for those cases currently in process or on remand following direct appellate review, we find that MCL 791.234(6)(a) is unconstitutional as currently written and applied to juvenile homicide offenders. When sentencing a juvenile, defined now as an individual below 18 years of age, for a homicide offense, the sentencing court must, at the time of sentencing, evaluate and review those characteristics of youth and the circumstances of the offense as delineated in Miller and this opinion in determining whether following the imposition of a life sentence the juvenile is to be deemed eligible or not eligible for parole. We further hold that the Parole Board must respect the sentencing court’s decision by also providing a meaningful determination and review when parole eligibility arises.

Friday, November 16, 2012

WIsconsin Upholds Life Without Parole for 14 Year Old

WI Upholds Life Without Parole for 14 Year Old By Jeralyn, Section Juvenile Offenders Omer Ninham was 14 when he was part of a group of kids that killed a 13 year old by throwing him off the top of a parking garage. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Wisconsin Supreme Court today upheld the sentence. The opinion is here. The defense argued: Ninham mounts a categorical constitutional challenge, arguing that sentencing a 14-year-old to life imprisonment without parole is cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution. In the alternative, Ninham seeks sentence modification on the grounds that (1) his sentence is unduly harsh and excessive; (2) new scientific research regarding adolescent brain development constitutes a new factor that frustrates the purpose of the sentence; and (3) the circuit court relied on an improper factor when imposing the sentence. --------------------------- Michigan Judge Sentences 15 Year Old to Life Without Parole By Jeralyn, Section Juvenile Offenders Posted on Tue Oct 26, 2010 14 year old Dakota Eliason shot and killed his grandfather. He said he went back and forth for hours debating whether to kill him or commit suicide, and decided to on the former. The DA charged him in adult court. Monday, a Michigan judge imposed a sentence of life without parole, finding it violated neither the Constitution nor international treaties. He rejected a sentence of life with parole saying the law didn't authorize it. His opinion is here. His lawyer disagrees: “Anyone that's spent any time around that kid will tell you he's a loving kid, certainly at his point, people that don't know him are defining him by the one terrible thing he did but he does have remorse he does wish he could take it back,” said defense attorney Lanny Fisher.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Judge Me If You Must

If You must Judge Me... Judge me not for mistakes of my youth.. And choices made of immaturity. If Judge Me You must.. Judge me not for the life I led before I had a chance to grow, in years, mind and spirit.. If Judge Me You must.. Judge me from this day forward, and the person I have grown into and chose to be.. If Judge Me You Must.. Judge me for the heart, spirit, and soul. Allow yourself to look within to the person I am now.. If Judge Me You must.. . Judge me not for my past and things beyound my control... Judge me for me ,not the things I didn't know how to change.. If Judge Me You Must... Judge me for the person I am, and the person I shall be. Judge me for the inside of me... Give me a second chance to live and love.. If Judge Me You Must.... Author Unknown~

Friday, September 28, 2012

Drugging Young Kids

These Are The Drugs Given After Intering Juvenile Hall Seroquel >(It Replaced Trazodone) Trazodone >.(I was told She needed help for sleeping, (After researching & talking with a counselor I found out it was presribed for PSD) " I talked to her about my concerns, ( I had read these could be dangerous, & Not for kids under 18) Leslie did say she was concerned also, & would talk to someone about the amount that were being taken each day" 1. Wellbutrin 2. Zoloft 3. Celexa 4. Klonopin Oral 5. (Depakote), 6. Risperdal), 7. risperidone 8. Remeron . (It Is Presribed for Depression, & Bi-Polar) 9. Destrel 10. Tegretol --------------- I do not know at what times she was taking all these, But I do know that in June 2003 Amber told me she was taking 15 pills a day and these were the ones she told me at the time they were giving heer. Zyprexa was perscribed also atabout the same time for depression. They also were giving her Lamital In June. By Aug. woo4 the dosage was at the highest level. -------------------------------------- I know of 3 Doctors She saw and that gave her these. These are Antipsycotic Medications. In Oct. The 29th. The Doctor :Telephoned me to ask if he could contine giving these* He called & wants my peremission to give these. ( She had already been taking these, Was allowed to sign her own forms. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ to sign for these meds. though they are not for children. ) When I told him I felt these were dangerous drugs " He told me she was suffering ( Separtion & Anxiety Dissorder and Post Tramantic Stress. ---------------------------------- Trazadone was Added In 2003 Also: Reason For Giving: High Anxiety,sleelessness, Mood Instabilty: ++++++++++++++++++ Side Effects Of This Drug Are>> Siezers,Headaches,Memory Loss,Nervousness,Anxiety,Sleeplessness, Tremors,Slurred speech,Weakness, Numbness In Arms,Legs And Feet. permenant Shaking Of Hands,Legs,Arms,Eyes And Lips. Heartattack,Weight Gain,Periods Stopping,Chest Pain,Red Itchy Eyes, Dihrrea,Rash,Jundice,Pain In The Joints. ------------------------------------------------ 9/16/2003 Depakote Was Perscribed For Mood Didorder This Drug Carries A Warning: Not To Be Given To Children Undr 18 Side Effects Of This Drug Are> Sedation,Nausea,Uncoordination,Rash,Changes In White Blood Count, -------------------------------------------------------------------- Side Effects Of Seroquel Are >> dryness Of Mouth And Eyes,Blood Pressure Changes,Restlessness,Stiffness, Tremors,Increased Risk Of Siezures,Weight Gain,The Persistent Movement Of Eyes,lips,Hands And Feet. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Side Effects Of Clozapine Are: Severe agranulocytosis (White Blood CEll Drop) fever,Low Blood Pressure,pulse,Constipation and Excessive Drooling. (Weekly laboratory tests are needed in the first six months of treatment and every 2 weeks thereafter) ---------------------------------------------------------------- These Were All Perscribed By Her doctor Juvenile Hall Shortly After She was Admitted There. (Drugs Before Entering Juvenile Hall Prozac 10 MG.2x Daily For Depression, Trazadone 1x Daily 25 MG For Mood swings) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Side Effects Of Resperdal Are Uncontrollable movements of the Mouth,Tongue,Cheeks,Arms,hands, Legs,feet,Jaw & eyes.Dizziness Upon Standing.take Caution Not To Become Over Heated; (NOTE: I Called Because i Was Concerned About Her Running Laps In Summer Heat Every Day) Staff was unaware Of This.) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Combining The Two Drugs Together; Depakote And Seriquel Will Make You Sick: They were: At Juvenile Hall each ward Is In A Seperate Room, And Amber Said That She Would put Her White Slip In The Door (Meaning She Needed Attention) And It Would Be ignored all Day By Staff) Giving Her More Anxiety also Putting Her danger Considering The Different Drugs She was On With Little Suppervision) +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Note: I was seeing A Psyciatrist for Anxiety And Depression After Amber Was Locked Up. I asked Him About These Drugs She Was Taking & He Told Me Unless a person Is Psychotic They Should Never Take psychotic Drugs: I Asked Permission To Have My Own Doctor Come In And Talk With Her: They Refused;
11/19/2007 Amber writes a letter to the persiding Judge: To The Honorable Judge Bylesh I am writting to you because I am a defendant in your court room and I am having some trouble obtaining copies of my reports. When I was arrested and booked into juvenile hall I filed a rape report against my co-defendant. Jason Harris and photographs were taken of my badly bruised thighs and burns & bruises and cig burns were on my arms, where he burnt me.i know my investagator got copies of these, I am fighting a very serious case and I am about to go to trial. My Co-defedant has copies of these as he is pro per. These reports are very important to my case, and I feel this is an injustice to me to be kept from my own evidence while the person who did this to me is allowed to have and carry my evidence with him.It is against my personal rights . I will be back in your court room Dec.21st 2007 & Truely hope you will have these here for me. ( For My Case) I was given my police reports but not my medical. I have been requesting these reports & pictures for a very long time, please this is just one thing semmly very unfair to me & my trial. Thank you for your time with respect, sincerly Amber Riley Please if you get time can you check (Holman V. Superior Court (1981)29 Cal. App. 3d 1302,1310 (246 cal.Rptr. 775) Thank you very much.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Think of the children

Think of the children
Posted: 12 Sep 2012 06:07 PM PDT
The classic strawman, the underlying justification for any legislation appearing to be tough on crime, the go-to argument for riling up mobs in your favor is to implore people to, please, think of the children.
The “children” at issue are not just any children: they’re your children and mine, those sweet innocent babes who just want to eat ice cream and roll in the mud and take cute pictures with the family dog. Those naive children whom we must protect at all costs from the dangerous monsters that lurk around the corner and wait in shadows. Unless, of course, these children commit crimes themselves, in which case we do think of them: we think of them as juveniles. One day, they’re the future of the nation, the next they’re shackled in the back of a prison van, drenched in their newly acquired status as irredeemable delinquents, the scourge of society.
Juveniles have long been the forgotten sector of the criminal justice system. Practicing in juvenile court is barely a step above practicing in family court. Representing them is akin to being a social worker and no self-respecting defense lawyer voluntarily wants to go into juvenile court and looks down on those who do. Until now. After the Supreme Court’s decisions in Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, the plight of juvenile defendants is finally seeing the light of day and taking center stage in a long-overdue discussion about just what, exactly, we are doing to our children. These two cases are notable not only for their respective holdings, but also for mainstreaming the scientific consensus on the development of the adolescent brain.
They’ve caused us to re-examine our treatment of these damaged, troubled 14, 15, 16 and 17 year olds and have shone a spotlight on the ugly legislation we have in our states that mistreats these children.
There are two notable developments today in juvenile law, which are worth mentioning briefly: first, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued this major opinion [PDF], holding that a prosecutor’s decision to seek transfer of a juvenile to adult court is subject to an “abuse of discretion” standard, not a more stringent “gross and patent abuse of discretion” standard1. Second, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today heard oral argument in a case about the retroactive application of Miller and just what is to be done about juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole. It’s a difficult question, to be sure.
But what’s notable about these cases – and specifically the NJ case – is how we are treating our children. The NJ statute calls for a prosecutor to seek transfer to adult court when certain criteria are met: namely that the juvenile is 16 or above and charged with specific crimes. In 2000, the NJ legislature did away with a provision in that statute that used to permit the juvenile to present evidence and mitigating information countering the request to transfer. Now, the 16 year old has no voice in this proceeding. In NJ, at least, a judge has the authority to deny the transfer, but only under very specific circumstances.
Connecticut is worse: Any juvenile 14 (!!!) and above who is charged with a felony that exposes him to a maximum of 20 or 25 years in jail (Class B and A felonies) must be automatically transferred to adult court. Not a single person in the juvenile court system has the authority to prevent that transfer. Upon transfer, the prosecutor in adult court has 10 days to decide whether to send the case back to juvenile court. Not a judge, and certainly not a defense attorney.
The net effect of this is that the juvenile who was exposed to a maximum punishment of 10 years (in NJ) or 4 years (in CT), is now exposed to adult sentences with adult consequences, often to include mandatory-minimums that can constitute a period greater than 70% of the juvenile’s life up to that point. I use these two states as examples, but I’m pretty certain that most, if not all, states have similar provisions.
The children, their rehabilitation and their individual circumstances have all been cut out of the process in the name of lip service to some badly flawed public policy. These children grow up in the adult criminal justice system, where any pretense of rehabilitation has long since been abandoned and are crippled in their lives for a foolish, tragic act at a very young age. They don’t come out reformed; the juvenile system just becomes a breeding ground and the starting point for a pipeline to the adult system.
And yet the science points in exactly the opposite direction. Adolescent brains are developing all the way until 25. Rationality is not a hallmark of the teenager, nor is clear-headed decision making or a full understanding of the consequences of one’s actions. And yet we punish them as if we expect them to be adults and act like adults at 14. Of course consequences must exist for actions that hurt others: isn’t involvement in the criminal justice system, incarceration in a juvenile facility with peers and mandatory supervision enough? Must we make these children carry the burdens of their youthful mistakes well into adulthood, nay, forever?
A rational argument can be made that in some circumstances, the harm or injury caused by the juvenile is so great that the protection and forgiveness of the juvenile system is undeserved. I accept that. But that argument doesn’t support the broad brush applied in states; in fact, it supports the exact opposite. Transfer to adult court must be rare and reserved for those that truly deserve it. It must not be a box that is checked in each and every case regardless of the individual circumstances. Automatic, mandatory transfers serve to undo everything that we teach our children: that we are all individuals, different from each other in unique way and that we should seek out and respect the individuality in others. Treating juveniles as adults should be an option, but an option that should be exercised by a judge after a careful consideration of all the factors: the circumstances of the crime, the record of the defendant, his age, his special circumstances. It should be a measured, informed, intelligent decision made on a case-by-case basis, not a blind one-size-fits-all paean to populist bloodlust and fear.
It’s difficult enough for adults to deal with the devastating consequences of having a felony conviction in modern America. Think of the children.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Teen Dies in Solitary in Georgia Jail After Alleged Medical Neglect

Teen Dies in Solitary in Georgia Jail After Alleged Medical Neglect

In a particularly horrendous story out of Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today on the death of a 17-year-old in solitary confinement in a small-town jail last year. The teen's mother is has now named the town, it's police department, the jail's nurse and doctor, and four correctional officers in a federal lawsuit claiming wrongful death and civil right violation's, based on allegations that her son's serious medical condition was ignored.

Fabian Avery III weighed 153 pounds when he was transferred from the Fulton County jail in late February 2011 to alleviate overcrowding. The 17-year-old was found dead nearly a month later in an isolation cell at the Mize Street Municipal jail in the south Georgia town of Pelham, his 6-foot-1-inch frame shriveled to 108 pounds, according to reports...

Avery died of appendicitis and complications from a bowel obstruction, according to investigative documents compiled by the GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation].

He had been arrested in December 2010 on armed robbery charges and was transferred to Pelham on Feb. 15, 2011.

The complaint claims that Avery first reported being ill on Feb. 24, 2011 and was given minimal attention. While he complained of nausea, stomach pains, vomiting and lower back pains, as well as frequently vomiting and defecating on himself, the lawsuit claims jail staff did little to help get Avery the necessary care...

Avery was found dead on the morning of March 18, on a mattress on the floor of his 6-by-10-foot isolation cell.

According to the AJC, the GBI's invesigation found that the teenager had been placed in "the hole" after he first reported being sick, "because he began frequently soiling himself and not cleaning up or showering." The jail's nurse reportedly "suggested that Avery might have been faking some of his symptoms," despite his apparent extreme weight loss.

The defendents' attorney told the AJC: "This is an unfortunate case...If [the jail staff] had any indication that he needed any more medication, it would have been provided."

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Push to Keep Teen Felons Locked Up for Life

The Push to Keep Teen Felons Locked Up for Life
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and others aim to sidestep a Supreme Court ruling that gives juvenile lifers another chance.
By Suevon Lee, ProPublica| Mon Aug. 6, 2012 11:45 AM PDT

When Dennis Epps learned in June that the Supreme Court had struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for kids convicted of murder, he was hopeful. His brother, David, was given such a sentence for home burglary-murder committed at 16 and has spent most of his 48 years behind bars.

"I was thinking he was going to get some kind of release, because he served 32 years on a life sentence," Epps told ProPublica.

But Epps's brother is unlikely going anywhere soon. A few weeks after the ruling, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announced he would commute the life without parole sentences of 38 juvenile offenders, and make them eligible for parole after 60 years. David Epps would be in his mid-70s when he could first be released.

Under the Supreme Court's ruling, minors can still get life without parole sentences—just not automatically after a conviction; instead a judge will need to decide, taking into account the minor's youth.

For the roughly 2,500 juvenile offendersalready sentenced to life in prison without parole, the upshot of the ruling—Miller v. Alabama—seemed clear: "They will all get another bite at the sentencing apple," Dan Filler, a professor at Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law, wrote shortly after the ruling.

That may not happen if Iowa's governor or many other states get their way.

"Justice is a balance and these commutations ensure that justice is balanced with punishment for those vicious crimes and taking into account public safety," Branstad said in announcinghis order.

The governor's action, which sidesteps any potential resentencing hearings, has sparked criticism and legal challenges.

Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta who teaches at Yale Law School, called the governor's order "questionable legally and bad public policy."

"The main point of the Miller decision—and the main concern of any sentencing—should be individualized sentencing based on factors about each human being," he said. "Obviously, nothing about any of the 38 individuals was taken into account, just as it was not when they were sentenced to life imprisonment without parole."

Yet Filler, the Drexel law professor who wrote about the ruling, said it actually leaves the details to states to iron out. "When you look at the decision closely, it implicitly leaves room for exactly what the governor of Iowa did," he told ProPublica. "It doesn't give us any guidance. You have to see this decision as entirely cloudy. Different states are going to try different things."

Indeed, some states have suggested they don't plan on rolling back minors' life without parole sentences, pointing out the Supreme Court left unclear whether its ruling should be applied retroactively to minors already sentenced. (Twenty-six states currently have mandatory life without parole statutes for juveniles. Here's a list and a map showing where.)

"It is the (Alabama) attorney general's position that this rule does not apply retroactively," Alabama Solicitor General John C. Neiman Jr. told us. "Ultimately whether it will apply retroactively is going to be a question that will be litigated in, and decided by, the courts."

The ruling

In its June 25 decision, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court ordered an individualized approach to sentencing for juveniles convicted of murder to consider proportionality of punishment to the nature of the crime and offender's history.

Sentencers are now required to "follow a certain process—considering an offender's youth and attendant circumstances—before imposing a particular penalty," wrote Justice Elena Kagan for the majority. Among the unique characteristics of youth cited were "immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences."

While the opinion didn't impose a categorical ban on life without parole sentences for juveniles, it requires that authorities "take into account how children are different, and how those differences counsel against irrevocably sentencing them to a lifetime in prison."

The decision follows in the steps of a recent line of Supreme Court cases stating that kids, by virtue of their youth and lack of fully matured brains, are different from adults and have greater capacity for rehabilitation. In 2005, the Court struck down the death penalty for those under 18. In 2010, it forbade life without parole for juveniles convicted of crimes that aren't murder.

The patchy aftermath of the 2010 decision illustrates the challenges states have faced in implementing changes to their laws. Florida—which dispensed the lion's share of life without parole sentences to minors for nonhomicides—is still grappling with how to address the ruling. Greater discretion in judges' hands has also led, in some cases, to 70- to 90-year sentences for minors—while not technically life, a comparable term of years.

What's next?

In the wake of Miller, some states around the country have already taken legislative action. North Carolina recently passed an amendment granting juvenile lifers parole review after 25 years. It also requires judges to consider such factors as age, immaturity, intellectual capacity, mental health history, and the influence of familial or peer pressure when imposing punishment.

In Michigan, which boasts the second-highest number of juvenile lifers, criminal defense attorneys have begun mobilizing legal assistance for current inmates despite disagreement as to whether or not the court's decision is retroactive.

In Pennsylvania, the state with the most number of juvenile offenders serving life without parole (444), the state Senate Judiciary Committee recently solicited testimony from various stakeholders to decide how to proceed. The issue of retroactivity there, too, remainsuncertain.

Iowa's recent executive order is not the first time a governor preemptively took action following a Supreme Court ruling: In 2005, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas commuted the death sentences of 28 juvenile offenders, changing them to life sentences with the possibility of parole after 40 years. Around the same time, he had also signed a mandatory life without parole statute for juveniles; Texas abolished the statute in 2009.

If the Iowa governor's order stands, 38 juvenile offenders—including David Epps—will not be eligible for parole until they reach their mid-70s, about the normal life expectancy of Americans. But of course prison can prematurely age people. The National Institute of Corrections designates an elderly or aging prisoner as age 50 and older.

Recidivism rates also decline the older a prisoner gets: In Iowa, statistics show these ratesdrop markedly once an inmate reaches age 45 and even more dramatically by the time he's 55.

In light of the governor's action in Iowa, any hope Dennis Epps had of ever seeing his brother get out of prison was short-lived. The governor "might as well have left them serving a life sentence, because that's pretty much what that is," he said.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Carter's death followed a violent "cell extraction" in which corrections officers used pepper spray and stun guns,

Death in Pennsylvania Solitary Confinement Cell Raises Questions
by Hannah Taleb

On April 26 of this year, John Carter died in his solitary confinement cell at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Rockview in central Pennsylvania. According to accounts by other men imprisoned on his cell block, Carter's death followed a violent "cell extraction" in which corrections officers used pepper spray and stun guns, though the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections makes no mention of such actions in its official statements, and state police have yet to interview inmate eyewitnesses.

In 1995, John Carter took part in a robbery that resulted in the murder of one man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was sixteen at the time, and was convicted of second-degree felony murder. In Pennsylvania, which has more juvenile lifers than any other state, his conviction meant a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. (Under the Supreme Court's June 25 ruling, in Miller v. Alabama, that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles were unconstitutional, Carter would likely have had his sentence reconsidered, had he lived to see the day.)

At some point during Carter's sixteen-year imprisonment, he was placed on what's called the Restricted Release List, a form of indefinite solitary confinement that can only be ended with approval by the Secretary of the Department of Corrections. Jeffrey Rackovan, the Public Information Officer at SCI Rockview, admitted that this designation meant John could have "spent the rest of his life in solitary confinement." Before his death Carter had spent the last ten to eleven years in solitary. According to prisoner reports he had been known to break the rules of his unit in order to share food, hygiene items, and writing utensils with newcomers to his block, and adamantly used both the grievance process and legal system to challenge acts of abuse and retaliation by prison staff.

On April 27, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections issued a press release announcing that John Carter had been found “unresponsive in his cell” the day before. Reports from the unit soon began to reach Carter’s family and the Human Rights Coalition, a Pennsylvania-based prisoner advocacy and abolitionist organization. The reports explained that Carter had been subject to a cell extraction on the day of his death after a dispute with guards who refused to issue him a food tray instead of nutraloaf, a dense, unpalatable substance issued as punishment in place of meals. The cell extraction was the second Carter had been subjected to that week, during which guards entered his cell in full riot gear, armed with OC spray and electroshock weapons.

The statements from prisoners explained a brutal scene, with excessive amounts of pepper spray being pumped into Carter’s cell so as to flood the whole tier with the choking gas. According to prisoner accounts, guards then broke down the door to the cell and proceeded to shock Carter seven times with electroshock shields and guns. Many of the reports end with Carter being dragged from his cell, paramedics arriving 10 to 15 minutes later, and an unresponsive Carter being removed from the block. He was pronounced dead at Mount Nittany Medical Center a short time later.

Andre Jacobs, a jailhouse lawyer housed on the same block as John wrote a five page declaration detailing the events of that day. Many others sent in the story as they heard and saw it, all of them asserting that John Carter was “murdered . . . here in this RHU torture zone, where guards come on the tier calling people racial slurs.”

The press statement released by the Department of Corrections made no mention of a cell extraction, or any confrontation at all occurring on the day of Carter’s death. Reports from inside the prison claimed that superintendent Marirosa Lamas came to the Restricted Housing Unit tier the night of John Carter’s death alleging that he had committed suicide, an assertion never made to the public. But officials first claimed that no cell extraction took place the day of Carter’s death, then that there was an extraction but no video footage, and finally that an extraction took place but the footage may have been “damaged.”

Because Carter died from what was considered unnatural causes, the Pennsylvania State Police were brought in to investigate his death. By May 10th the police had released a statement that notes John Carter was found “unresponsive in his cell,” but goes on to describe that he had “barricaded himself in his cell and refused numerous orders” which precipitated “the DOCs response to the inmate’s cell.” The statement goes on the say that autopsy reports were “inconclusive” and evidence had indicated “no foul play” in Carter’s death. Once again no mention was made of the use of pepper spray or electroshock weapons.

Calls to the state police were met with the assurance that a “thorough” investigation would be carried out. However, according to statements from prisoners held on John Carter’s block, not one of them was ever questioned as to the events of April 26.

Jeffrey Rackovan told Solitary Watch that the prison had “done its part” in the investigation, handing over video footage and allowing investigators to enter the prison. Rackovan noted that investigators surely spoke to those they “needed to”--the “officers involved in the extraction.” He also assured that John Carter’s cell had been inspected, though numerous prisoner reports claim that it was thoroughly cleaned shortly after Carter was removed.

According to advocates at the Human Rights Coalition, the investigation carried out by the state police fits within a general pattern of refusal by state authorities to investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes of prison guards and officials against the prisoners in their care. No statements have been made by the State Police since May 10. Toxicology reports from the coroner's office are still forthcoming more than two months after John Carter’s death.

John Carter’s family is not satisfied with the investigation thus far and are resolved to find justice in his death. They arranged for a second autopsy, and filed a criminal complaint with the Center County District Attorney, Stacy Parks-Miller, in June. As a response the DA’s office is now overseeing the investigation carried out by the State Police, but has released no further information on its progress. When contacted, Ms. Parks-Miller's office would not respond with any comment on the investigation.

John Carter’s sister, Michelle Williams, explained in a May 7 interview with me for Rustbelt Radio that she wants justice not only for her family but for all of the other families with loved ones inside of Pennsylvania prisons. “Just because they are in jail," she said, "doesn’t mean you can treat them as anything else but human.” Listen to the full radio report here.

We need to support this family and mention this incident in all of our actions/presentations/etc.

On April 26 of this year, John Carter died in his solitary confinement cell at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Rockview in central Pennsylvania. According to accounts by other men imprisoned on his cell block, Carter's death followed a violent "cell extraction" in which corrections officers used pepper spray and stun guns, though the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections makes no mention of such actions in its official statements, and state police have yet to interview inmate eyewitnesses.

This link and following text came out at the time of John Carter's murder and following is a current article on the follow/cover-up that needs to be challenged.

In the weeks since the death of John Carter, the Human Rights Coalition and Carter’s family have both received numerous letters attesting to John’s good character and strong spirit. John had been held in solitary confinement in several different prisons for the last ten-to-eleven years, but continued to help others. A prisoner at SCI Rockview wrote of Carter: “He was a person of integrity. He did not believe in abuse of others, especially the abuse of prisoners from prison guards. If he could help someone in understanding the law, he was there. And he had a lot of patience with others, especially the mentally impaired.” Another prisoner from SCI Camp Hill stated: “Its no question in my mind. He died fighting against oppression. His name and memory will not be forgotten.” Carter’s death has been a shock to many prisoners, and they want justice for him; “Why isn’t there a big investigation, an outrage about John Carter’s death like there is about Trayvon Martion? John Carter was black, he was someone’s son and he died senselessly. Let not his death go in vain,” said an SCI Frackville prisoner. Many of the letters received simply shared memories of Carter, who was sentenced to life in prison at the age of sixteen and spent half of his life there, but continued to be a strong and loving person. Another prisoner said there were three words for John; “Loyalty, intelligence, fearless.” A man incarcerated at SCI Huntingdon wrote to his departed comrade: “You’ve made that transition to the other side, wherever that may be. But what I say shall come to pass, for it is written J-Rock, that children of the night shall forever find each other in the dark.” He will be missed.
HRC Breaking News Murder of John Carter at SCI Rockview PA | Prison

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Give juveniles the right to a jury trial in the juvenile system

Juvenile Justice

Cheryle is asking the Supreme Court to require that a jury make the decision as to
whether or not to waive a juvenile into adult court, instead of a judge or magistrate.
Please sign.​petitions/​supreme-court-of-the-united-sta​tes-give-juveniles-the-right-t​o-a-jury-trial-in-the-juvenile​-system

Supreme Court of the United States: Give juveniles the right to a jury trial in the juvenile system.
Accepting that juveniles have the right to due process, and that due process requires jury findings on facts risking increased punishment

Monday, July 9, 2012

Court ruling on juveniles could affect 12 from Erie, Crawford

Court ruling on juveniles could affect 12 from Erie, Crawford

Updated: July 9, 2012 5:14 PM EST
Court ruling on juveniles could affect 12 from Erie, Crawford
By ED PALATTELLA, Erie Times-News

Earlier versions of this story included an incorrect date for a hearing in Harrisburg on the issue of inmates serving sentences for murders they committed as juveniles. The hearing will be Thursday.

Life might no longer mean life for 12 state inmates from Erie and Crawford counties.

The 12 are serving mandatory life sentences with no parole for murders they committed when they were younger than 18.

Parole has become a possibility for each of them after the U.S. Supreme Court in June banned mandatory life sentences, without parole, for juvenile offenders.

Local officials expect the Supreme Court ruling to be retroactive, but they are waiting for direction on how to follow the 5-4 decision, issued June 25.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is preparing to act. On Thursday, the state Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing in Harrisburg on the Supreme Court decision, which held that mandatory life sentences, without parole, for juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and inhuman punishment.

The decision does not affect inmates who received those sentences for murders they committed as adults.

What the state Legislature does will help determine the process by which the affected inmates would seek relief, by petitioning a judge, for example, or by filing an appeal with the state Board of Probation and Parole.

More than 2,000 inmates who committed murder as juveniles are serving life sentences with no parole nationwide, including 373 in Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Law Center, of Philadelphia. Nine of those 373 inmates are from Erie County, and three are from Crawford County.

"It is kind of up in the air," said Erie County's chief public defender, Pat Kennedy, a former assistant district attorney. "Is there going to have to be a resentencing?"

Kennedy, who handled cases in Juvenile Court as a prosecutor, said she is tracking the developments to determine when her office may have to get involved in the inmates seeking relief.

Erie County President Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr., who is also monitoring the possible changes, said the state Parole Board might have a role. He said the board, rather than county judges, has control over whether to grant parole for inmates serving state sentences, including inmates sentenced to life.

"If they file something with us," DiSantis said of the inmates sentenced as juveniles, "I don't know whether we would have jurisdiction."

The Parole Board is studying the Supreme Court decision but has no comment at this time, a spokesman for the board said.

The Supreme Court ruling, made in the case of Miller v. Alabama, does not prohibit a juvenile convicted of murder from serving a life sentence without parole.

The justices ruled that such sentences cannot be mandatory, as they had been in Pennsylvania and other states for juveniles tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder, or a premeditated homicide; or second-degree murder, or a killing committed during a felony, such as a robbery.

The Supreme Court found that a life sentence without parole can be an option, but not a requirement, for a juvenile, Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri said.

Under the ruling, he said, a sentencing judge, for example, must have the discretion to impose a life sentence with or without parole, based on the facts of each case.

Life sentences without parole for juveniles "are no longer automatic," Daneri said. "It is kind of a limited ruling."

He said the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association will ask the Legislature to draft a law to create a sentencing structure to reflect the Supreme Court ruling.

Daneri said he was disappointed with the ruling. He said the juveniles affected by it were sentenced not for typical crimes, but for the most serious of offenses.

"The ones who got life without parole were convicted of first- or second-degree murder," Daneri said.

ED PALATTELLA can be reached at 870-1813 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at

Cristian Fernandez

Benjamin Sebastian​crime/2012-07-03/story/​judge-rule-aug-7-whether-suppre​ss-cristian-fernandez-interrog​ations

Judge to rule by Aug. 7 whether to suppress Cristian Fernandez interrogations
Court watchers will learn this morning whether Cristian Fernandez's defense team puts on a final witness or goes right to closing arguments in the fourth day of his suppression hearing.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Voices from Solitary: High Tech Brutality

Voices from Solitary: High Tech Brutality
by Voices from Solitary

Robert "Saleem" Holbrook is serving life without parole in Pennsylvania for a crime committed when he was a juvenile. When he was 16, Holbrook was recruited by adults to serve as a lookout during a drug deal that escalated to robbery and then murder. Under the state's mandatory sentencing laws, he was given LWOP--an experience he describes in an essay called "Crushed Against the Law: A Child Offender’s Encounter with Blind Justice," published on the blog maintained for him by friends on the outside. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court's recent decision banning mandatory juvenile LWOP will affect his sentence. Holbrook has now been in prison for 17 years, and has spent many of those years in solitary confinement. He is a member of the Human Rights Coaltion, which opposes solitary confinement and other forms of abuse in Pennsylvania's prisons. He wrote the following piece, titled "Control Units: High Tech Brutality" while in the "Special Management Unit" (SMU) at SCI Greene. -- Jean Casella

A prisoner’s whole existence, especially one in a control unit, is defined by numbers, statistics, and information transferred through an endless process of paperwork. When I go to the Program Review Committee here in the Special Management Unit (a control unit) at SCI Greene, my release to general population is repeatedly denied, they claim, because of a history of assaultive behavior. It is useless to defend myself against their rationale, yet I do to probe the predictable response of my captors.

Their justification for the continual confinement of myself and others in the SMU is based on the rational of a separate committee that determined I am an assaultive prisoner who has demonstrated the potential to harm others. Never mind the fact that this determination was made in another prison. Since a separate Administrative Committee determined that I am assaultive, I must therefore be assaultive. Their system of paper- work and statistics is never wrong; their committees are omnipotent and all knowing.

We the prisoners are mere spectators and captives to the process. Our presence is only necessary to secure our signatures on their paperwork or to say something that can be documented and used against us in future hearings. Our signatures place our consent on their paperwork. They permit us to seal our fate by certifying our consent of their process.

Every step of our day in the control unit is reduced to a methodical and omnipotent numbers system. I am housed in cell 23 on the 2nd tier. I receive 3 meals a day, 3 showers a week for 5 minutes each with 1 bar of soap, and 3 shaves a week with 1 razor that must be turned in after 15 minutes. I go to the yard 5 days a week for 1 hour a day with 1 prisoner per cage. I can only have 1 box in my cell containing only 2 pairs of socks, 2 t-shirts and 2 underwear. I can only have 4 books that must be exchanged on a 1 for 1 basis. I can only have 1 jumpsuit, 1 towel, 1 washcloth, and 1 toothbrush and toothpaste that are exchanged every 30 days on a 1 for 1 basis. I can only have 1 visit for 1 hour every week with only 1 visitor. The SMU Committee reviews my status every 30 days.

The prison officials tolerate no alternation in their process. There is no room for negotiation or compromise. The system must run smoothly. Dissent or resistance is crushed by the Correctional Response Teams dressed in futuristic battle fatigues. It is a ruthless war of attrition de- signed to grind a man down to his breaking point.

The previous method employed by the prison system to break prisoners was to break “bones.” They relied on brute force and unrestrained violence. This method did not sit well with the American public when it was exposed. It also tarnished America’s image in the world as a nation of high standards and values. The method was flawed in that it usually only strengthened prisoners’ resistance and made them stronger men. The prison system therefore directed its resources to develop a method of confinement that would destroy a prisoner’s mind and his will to resist.

The new assault was directed not against a prisoner’s body, but rather his mind and senses. The concept of a complete sensory deprivation and isolation was developed. This concept revolved around the ideas that if a prisoner is deprived of mental, physical, and emotional stimulation, his mind will inevitably turn inward and feed upon itself. With no outlet in an isolated environment, the mind is left to its own devices. The result is that a prisoner’s thoughts run out of control. Concentration becomes difficult and prisoners invent fantasies or images of themselves which they cocoon themselves in.

Some never emerge from this world they create. The mind will seek any relief available. It is not uncommon for men to talk to themselves for hours on end. Insanity and madness rule in a control unit. The units are filled with prisoner’s screams, outbursts and pleas for communication. A man’s nerves deteriorate right in front of his eyes. Each prisoner suffers his own personal hell. Everyone is affected in one way or another. Whether the experience affects him for the good or the bad depends upon the man. Read more of this post

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teens 170 Years For Crimes That Did not Include Murder

*Sent Away*

Nathan Jordan, (bottom right as a child) who is serving a 170-year sentence
for crimes committed as a juvenile, his sister Allysa Jordan and their
mother. This is the last family picture available as his belongings were
lost after his mother's death .
Photo courtesy of Allysa Jordan

Nathan Jordan is serving a 170-year sentence at Sterling Correction
Facility in Colorado for aggravated robbery, motor vehicle theft and
possession of a weapon.

But most of his crimes, which did not result in anyone’s death or injury,
took place in in the late 1990s, before he was 18 . According to Colorado
law, he was a juvenile offender.

So how did Jordan end up with the kind of sentence that might be meted out
to serial killers or career criminals?

. . . . .

More on Colorado find in
*A photo essay from Time Magazine.*.... *Fremont County, Colorado, has made
incarceration a local specialty industry.* Read more:,29307,2009197,00.html#ixzz0wyOMv3Gm

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Help Amber Come Home

Alot of you know me as I have been fighting the system for 15 Years: I am asking you to please help us in our fight now. Amber deserves to come home & without this reduction in sentencing she may not make it home while I am still here.
We humbley ask for your help. Please read my blog on her case & then decide if you feel she deserves another chance at life free & with us.
We are also asking for letters of support to be sent to Governor Brown.
If you would like to write Mr. Brown in support please add her Commutation Log #(Com-878-12)
The staff at CCWF has submitted a request for him to consider her for this because she has a positive history, and has worked hard for this. For 15 years she has worked on her education gaining her GED,She has almost completed a AA in Social and behavioral Science, as well as a Certificate in Business. She currently is training dogs for the Mentally and physically disabled through the Little Angels Service Dogs Program, & is starting this week to Mentor At Risk Youth from the new Youth Diversion Program. She wants to make a difference in their lives & her own. Please take minute and go to & sign her petition.
Thank you & God Bless You & Yours (Earleen Austin)
You can read about Amber's case & trial at>
You can also write to her if you wish: Email for her address:

Governor Edmund G. Brown
C/O State Capitol Suite 1173
Sacremento Ca. 95814

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Amber Requests Evidence Pertaining To Her Case, That She Never Receives


Amber writes a letter to the persiding Judge:
To The Honorable Judge Bylesh
I am writting to you because I am a defendant in your court
room and I am having some trouble obtaining copies of my reports.
When I was arrested and booked into juvenile hall I filed
a rape report against my co-defendant. and photographs were taken
of my badly bruised thighs and burns & bruises and cig burns were on my
arms, where he burnt me.I know my investagator got copies of these,
I am fighting a very serious case and I am about to go to trial. My Co-defedant
has copies of these as he is pro per.
These reports are very important to my case, and I feel this
is an injustice to me to be kept from my own evidence
while the person who did this to me is allowed to have and carry
my evidence with him.It is against my personal rights .

I will be back in your court room Dec. 2010 & Truely hope
you will have these here for me. ( For My Case)
I have been requesting these reports & pictures for a very long time, please this
is unfair to me & my to my trial.
Thank you for your time
with respect, sincerly
Amber Riley
Please if you get time can you check (Holman V. Superior
Court (1981)29 Cal. App. 3d 1302,1310 (246 cal.Rptr.
775) Thank you very much.

Friday, May 25, 2012

11-year-old serving a 25 year prison term for a crime she did not commit.

Lacresha Murray is an 11-year-old serving a 25 year prison term for a crime she did not commit.

She was charged in the death of Jayla Belton with capital murder, found guilty of negligent homicide and injury to a child, and sentenced to 25 years--with no evidence, witnesses, opportunity, motive, nor history of aggression.

Months before her trial, against juvenile law and State Bar rules, D.A. Ronnie Earle announced her identity and pronounced her guilty in a televised news conference.The media, without any investigation, headlined her as guilty as charged for two months, obliterating any possibility of a fair trial.

Hidden from her family for four days, without a break, Lacresha was lied to, threatened, tricked and brainwashed during a three-hour interrogation by the Austin Police Department (APD). Not only did they deny her an attorney or parent present during this deceptively and illegally arranged interrogation, they threateningly coerced a false statement out of her, and failed to

read her all of her rights
ensure she understood them,
ascertain whether Lacresha could read the statement they typed up, which she could not.
By all accounts, this interrogation was immoral, illegal and inadmissible as evidence, and yet it was used as the only evidence against her. With no evidence, witnesses, motive, opportunity or history of aggressive behavior, Lacresha was found guilty -- twice.

In the first trial, she was denied a defense.

In the second trial, she was provided a rigged defense. During the second trial, the prosecution based it's case on the assertion there was a match between the shoes they alleged Lacresha was wearing and the injuries on Jayla Belton's body; however, these shoes were not Lacresha's. They were boy's tennis shoes, 3 sizes too large. Her family did not recognize them, and everyone who saw her that day, including hospital personnel and police, saw her barefoot.

The State's two "experts" who testified there was indeed a match, admitted on the stand they had not actually measured or tested the shoes in comparison to Jayla Belton's injuries. In fact, one of the "experts" did not see the shoes until minutes before he testified there was a match. The only scientific, forensic testing of the shoes was done by the police department's crime lab, which sent a report to prosecutors stating there was not a match. The only qualified expert evidence the prosecution had completely undermined their case. The jury had the right to see this report, but the prosecutors and judge suppressed it.

The judge, D.A., APD, Travis County Medical Examiner and the prosecutors in this matter failed to obey Texas law, designed to protect innocent children, and colluded with each other to imprison this innocent child for purely political reasons. By framing and imprisoning this innocent child, D.A. Ronnie Earle got national attention and right-before-election proof he was indeed tough on crime. Judge Dietz, Earle's former campaign manager and friend, got to provide a self-serving favor for Earle. The police got to close another case without much effort or cost. The prosecutors got both an easy win for their resumes and a chance to exercise the eagerly-awaited Determinate Sentencing Act, enabling them to imprison juveniles convicted of violent crimes for lengthy sentences.

Lacresha Murray got 25 years.

*Obviously, the goals of our justice system are not always met, but did you know that the legal safeguards we so highly value and trust are increasingly being violated in juvenile cases? For those with children, the travesty of the case against Lacresha Murray literally means that the police can arrest and accuse your children of a horrendous crime, secret them away from you, deliberately and illegally deny them an attorney and/or parent during interrogation, subject them to lies, trickery, threats and bullying during an interrogation, deny them full notification of the charge against them and its consequences, completely slander their reputation, as well as that of the entire family, and put them away for 25 to 40 years, or more -- without evidence.

By any other name, this is child abuse by our justice system. Although this is not supposed to happen in America, it did and it could happen to your child.

This was in 1999
After 3 long years of confinement for a crime she did not commit.
On August 13, 2001 all charges were dismissed.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

The charges against La Cresha Murray, now 17, have been dismissed with prejudice, which means for all time. They cannot reprosecute. They will also not prosecute the real perpetrators despite the fact that there is and was evidence available in 1996 establishing the time of Jayla Belton's injuries and clearing the Murrays; but lawyers never admit wrong, especially district attorneys and prosecutors and corrupt judges.

Joe H. Sullivan:LWOP For A Nonhomicide 1989 (He Is Still Serving Time)

All Locked Up

Did Joe Sullivan, sentenced to life at 13, have a fair trial?

Joe Harris Sullivan is one of two teenagers that young currently doing life without parole for a nonhomicide offense in the United States. His lawyers are hoping that the court will extend its 2005 bar on executing criminals who committed crimes as juveniles to Sullivan's sentence.

The adequacy of that proceeding isn't before the justices now. But a brief review of the trial record reveals a process so pathetic that it raises questions about whether Sullivan committed the crime in the first place. It also seems that the trial judge may not have intended to sentence Sullivan to life without parole. In the end, that judge, along with the prosecutor and defense lawyer, failed Sullivan so deeply that we have to wonder whether his sentence reflects a deep and basic failure of ordinary criminal justice

Here's what we do know happened. One May morning in 1989, Sullivan, then 13, and two older teens, Nathan McCants, 17, and Michael Gulley, 15, burglarized a home in Pensacola, Fla. They left with jewelry and coins. Later that day, someone returned to the house and found a 72-year-old woman, threw a black slip over her head, made her lie on her bed, and raped her orally and vaginally—so brutally that she had to have corrective surgery.

The remaining facts are trickier. The woman testified at trial that her assailant was a "dark colored boy" who "had kinky hair and he was quite black and he was small." She never looked directly at him. However, she remembered her attacker saying something like, "If you can't identify me, I may not have to kill you." At trial, she was permitted to testify that she recognized Sullivan's voice, saying, it "could very well be" his.

The two older boys, who both received brief sentences for their roles in the crimes, also testified. Gulley claimed that Sullivan said he'd raped the woman; McCants claimed not to have gone back to the house the second time.

Sullivan denied raping the elderly woman, admitting only to the initial burglary. But he was tried as an adult on two counts of sexual battery and other related charges. The only physical evidence was a fingerprint lifted from a plaque in the bedroom, which could have been made during the burglary. The clothing and other evidence have been destroyed and couldn't be tested for DNA.

Sullivan's lawyer, Mack Plant, had a straightforward job: to investigate whether Sullivan was guilty of just the burglary or the rape as well. Plant also should have found out if Sullivan's friends got reduced sentences because they flipped on him, as well as what their criminal histories were.

Plant punted at every step, beginning with his failure to address whether Sullivan was even competent to stand trial. Social science research shows that most teens don't have the ability to determine whether to take a plea deal, much less make decisions about strategy for trial. But from the record, it appears Plant never had his client's reasoning and comprehension skills evaluated.

The lawyer declined to give an opening statement, which is like a batter not taking a swing. Plant also failed to cross-examine witnesses vigorously.He did not explore Gulley's and McCants' backgrounds to show they had a motive to lie. He never asked: "Did you get a deal here?" Michael Gulley had an extensive criminal history that included one sexual offense, according to court papers. A lawyer might have used this information to cast Gulley as a possible suspect instead of Sullivan. Plant did not. Instead, he focused on the fact that Gulley had to have his memory refreshed about the entire crime before testifying. This was a good point, but Plant blew through it. (Entire cross: a little more than a page.) And he never challenged the victim's identification of her assailant's voice as Sullivan's or asked her to listen to the other two boys' speech.
Joe Sullivan

In his closing, Plant again said nothing about the self-serving nature of McCant's and Gulley's testimony. Here's his best line to the jury: "You know, I just don't know about this case." How true.

The trial whizzed by in eight hours. The jury took 35 minutes to convict. You could hardly blame them, based on the little they'd heard. Plant has since been suspended from the practice of law in Florida. The adequacy of his representation of Sullivan, however, was never properly raised on appeal.
The judge and prosecutor were also complicit in Sullivan's inadequate trial. At the sentencing hearing, after Sullivan's conviction, the question before Judge Nickolas P. Geeker should have been whether a 13-year-old who committed this horrible crime could be rehabilitated. Unlike an adult who commits the same offense, a young teen can change, according to the research of mental health researchers Laurence Steinberg and Thomas Grisso, who were the main experts in the juvenile death-penalty case and whose work Sullivan's attorneys are relying on now.A daylong hearing exploring the research on brain development and responsibility for young teens, along with Sullivan's juvenile history, family, education, and mental ability, would have given the judge the information he needed to determine whether Sullivan really merited the punishment of prison for life.
While the prosecutor may be less to blame than the defense attorney or the judge, he also has a responsibility to make sure that the punishment he's asking for is appropriate. Prosecutor Lawrence Kaden described Sullivan's criminal history in terms of the number of points he had accrued under the state's adult sentencing guidelines. He apparently didn't take into account that two-thirds of those points were due to a crime Sullivan committed at age 12, when he and his older brother broke into a house and were attacked by a dog, which Sullivan hit in the head, accidentally killing it.
At the sentencing, Judge Geeker should have appointed another lawyer to replace Plant. Instead, he said, somewhat inexplicably, that he wanted it to be "perfectly clear to everyone that when he (Sullivan) gets out again and he commits any more offenses, he'll not be a juvenile offender. Hopefully, he will be an old man."
If the judge meant to sentence Sullivan to life in prison without parole, why did he mention his release? (If he made a mistake, he wouldn't be the first. Another Florida judge has admitted to being confused about the law and incorrectly sentencing a 14-year-old to life without parole.)

There's no way to know, because as at so many other troubling moments in this trial, no legal professional stepped up to ask a question or to protest. Sullivan's trial showcases a common failure of the adversarial system—one that's especially troubling when the stakes involve locking up a child forever.
Joe has been in prison since 1989 >>> Shows Current Statas

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oscar Wilde on the Cruelty of Children in Prison

Voices from Solitary: Oscar Wilde on the Cruelty of Children in Prison
by Voices from Solitary

During and after his own two-year incarceration for "gross indecency," Oscar Wilde wrote several works on the cruelty and degradation of prison life. Among them is a lengthy letter to the editor of the London Daily Chronicle, written in 1897 shortly after his release from Reading Gaol and self-exile to France. It concerns the treatment of children in Britain's prisons, including their solitary confinement. Wilde does not specify the ages of the children in question, but at one point he argues that children under the age of fourteen should not be put in prison at all--so it is safe to assume that the children he refers to were younger still.

What follows is an excerpt from Wilde's letter, highlighting those practices that have changed relatively little since his day. Today, children as young as ten can be locked up in the UK, though they are placed in juvenile facilities rather than adult prisons, and solitary confinement is rare. In the United States, on the other hand, an estimated 10,000 juveniles are in adult prisons and jails. There, they are far more likely than adults to be beaten by guards, sexually assaulted, or end up in solitary confinement. They are also 36 times more likely to commit suicide than children in juvenile facilities. --Jean Casella

= = = = =
The cruelty that is practised by day and night on children in English prisons is incredible, except to those that have witnessed it and are aware of the brutality of the system. People nowadays do not understand what cruelty is. They regard it as a sort of terrible mediæval passion...[But]ordinary cruelty is simply stupidity. It is the entire want of imagination. It is the result in our days of stereotyped systems, of hard-and-fast rules, and of stupidity...Authority is as destructive to those who exercise it as it is to those on whom it is exercised. It is the Prison Board, and the system that it carries out, that is the primary source of the cruelty that is exercised on a child in prison...

The present treatment of children is terrible, primarily from people not under standing the peculiar psychology of a child's nature. A child can understand a punishment inflicted by an individual, such as a parent or guardian, and bear it with a certain amount of acquiescence. What it cannot understand is a punishment inflicted by society. It cannot realise what society is...

The child consequently, being taken away from its parents by people whom it has never seen, and of whom it knows nothing, and finding itself in a lonely and unfamiliar cell, waited on by strange faces, and ordered about and punished by the representatives of a system that it cannot understand, becomes an immediate prey to the first and most prominent emotion produced by modern prison life -- the emotion of terror. The terror of a child in prison is quite limitless.

I remember once in Reading, as I was going out to exercise, seeing in the dimly lit cell right opposite my own a small boy. Two warders -- not unkindly men -- were talking to him, with some sternness apparently, or perhaps giving him some useful advice about his conduct. One was in the cell with him, the other was standing outside. The child's face was like a white wedge of sheer terror. There was in his eyes the terror of a hunted animal. The next morning I heard him at breakfast-time crying, and calling to be let out. His cry was for his parents. From time to time I could hear the deep voice of the warder on duty telling him to keep quiet.

Yet he was not even convicted of whatever little offence he had been charged with. He was simply on remand. That I knew by his wearing his own clothes, which seemed neat enough. He was, however, wearing prison socks and shoes. This showed that he was a very poor boy, whose own shoes, if he had any, were in a bad state. Justices and magistrates, an entirely ignorant class as a rule, often remand children for a week, and then perhaps remit whatever sentence they are entitled to pass. They call this "not sending a child to prison." It is, of course, a stupid view on their part. To a little child, whether he is in prison on remand or after conviction is not a subtlety of social position he can comprehend. To him the horrible thing is to be there at all. In the eyes of humanity it should be a horrible thing for him to be there at all.

This terror that seizes and dominates the child, as it seizes the grown man also, is of course intensified beyond power of expression by the solitary cellular system of our prisons. Every child is confined to its cell for twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four. This is the appalling thing. To shut up a child in a dimly lit cell, for twenty-three hours out of the twenty-four, is an example of the cruelty of stupidity.

If an individual, parent or guardian, did this to a child, he would be severely punished. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children would take the matter up at once. There would be on all hands the utmost detestation of whomsoever had been guilty of such cruelty. A heavy sentence would, undoubtedly, follow conviction. But our own actual society does worse itself, and to the child to be so treated by a strange abstract force, of whose claims it has no cognisance, is much worse than it would be to receive the same treatment from its father or mother, or some one it knew...

As regards the children, a great deal has been talked and written lately about the contaminating influence of prison on young children. What is said is quite true. A child is utterly contaminated by prison life. But the contaminating influence is not that of the prisoners. It is that of the whole prison system -- of the governor, the chaplain, the warders, the lonely cell, the isolation, the revolting food, the rules of the Prison Commissioners, the mode of discipline as it is termed, of the life...In this, as in all other things, philanthropists and people of that kind are astray. It is not the prisoners who need reformation. It is the prisons...

Friday, May 11, 2012


My husbands name is Curtis Shuler Jr and he is currently serving a term of natural life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was a sixteen year old juvenile when he was arrested in 1998. He was charged with Premeditated First Degree Murder on a victim that a 'sworn' jury 'ACQUITTED Him'. The jury never found him guilty of killing the victim. In fact the jury acquitted himof every 'essential element' to constitute the crime. Yet instead of following state and federal laws when it comes to legally inconsistent verdicts the prosecutor persuaded the judge to find jim guilty as charged and the court adjudicated him guilty as charge despite the judges confusion as to the verdict. Federal and state law requires that verdicts rendered like his 'REQUIRE ACQUITTAL”. He has a life sentence without benefit of parole for a murder he was never convicted of doing. He was wrongfully convicted and railroaded by the state.

Iin 1998, there were a totat of 7 teens who were convicted of murder and prosecuted by the same states attorney, John Aguero. He gave the white teenagers, less then life in which two are already free and the other two will be coming home soon. The three black teens were given life without parole. Why did he feel compassion for the white teen's and not the black teen's?

What I am asking is for immediate release of my husband.

Why People Are Signing

Donna Cohen

about 1 year ago

I have had the pleasure of meeting this man and his wonderful wife.
This man is no criminal and has served almost 14 years behind bars for
something he was ACQUITTED of, he was never found guilty. Where is the
JUSTICE here??? This man should be released IMMEDIATELY after all 14 years
behind bars for something he was never found guilty of?? When is enough
ENOUGH? One angry mother and friend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amber Receives Her Diploma


Today,in cap and gown as you stand tall
And bravely parade down the graduation hall
Our hearts will glow with pride and joy
In spirit,we are there right by your side
We praise you for the years of dedication
Your courage to keep walking on the path,
And now you will gain triumph
Of all within your heart.
We're always here watching out for you
And hold you close in Prayer
This special day we lift you up once more
To go forward in God's care
He has a plan prepared for you
A chosen place for you to go
Where all the wisdom He has given you
Will be shared for more to know.
May his blessings go before you
And keep you ever strong,
Oh how very glad we are
That to our family, you belong.
Congratulations Graduate
Wherever you go
go with all your heart
We are there with you
We just wanted you to know*
We Love & Miss You So.
& Are So very proud of you
All the strength you have always shown
And the endless supply of courage.
XOXOXO~Mom & Dad

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shaina Sepulvado was convicted of capital murder

The Story of Shaina Sepulvado
Shaina Sepulvado was convicted of capital murder in 2007 in the death of her stepfather, James Kelly.
The crime took place about a year and a half earlier in 2005, a couple of months after Shaina had her 16th Birthday

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Discriminatory Juvenile Justice Practices in Tennessee and Nebraska

New Reports Reveal Discriminatory Juvenile Justice Practices in Tennessee and Nebraska

In a recently released report, the U.S. Department of Justice documented that young black children in the juvenile justice system in Memphis, Tennessee, were more likely than white children to be detained and even tried as adults -- for the same crimes.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Juvenile Justice Institute recently released results of a study concluding that minority children in Nebraska receive disproportionately harsh treatment in the juvenile justice system.

According to National juvenile Justice Network

Monday, April 16, 2012

2003 Story } California Teen Gets Life In Prison

California Teenager Given Life Sentence
Published: Sunday, June 15, 2003

A teenager who was 14 when he kidnapped a businessman and shot at the police has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. He is one of the youngest defendants in California history to receive the penalty.

The youth, Antonio Nuñez, now 16, was sentenced on Friday by Judge William Froeberg of Orange County Superior Court, who rejected arguments that the sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.

In addition to life without parole, Mr. Nuñez received four life terms and 121 years. He had been found guilty of attempted murder of a police officer, assault, evading, street terrorism and committing crimes for the benefit of a street gang.

A defense lawyer, Joel Garson, had asked the judge to consider the ''mental maturity'' of Mr. Nuñez, whose reading and math skills were said to be at a second-grade level. He also said Mr. Nuñez had a ''very minor'' past criminal history and a traumatic family life.

Mr. Nuñez was arrested on April 25, 2001, and charged with kidnapping a Santa Ana businessman, Delfino Moreno, and shooting at officers with an AK-47 during a chase. No one was injured.

Juan Diego Perez, 29, Mr. Nuñez's accomplice, was convicted of the same counts and was also sentenced to life without parole in an earlier trial.

A version of this article appeared in print on Sunday, June 15, 2003, on section 1 page 21