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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dear Fair Sentencing for Youth Supporters

Dear Fair Sentencing for Youth Supporters:
I'm writing to ask for your help in urging Governor Brown to sign AB 1276. Please take a few minutes to write, call, or email the Governor.
Young adults are especially vulnerable in prison to rape, assault, and the persuasions of prison gangs. Under current law, young people entering prison are usually housed on the most dangerous units, with the fewest programs and education. AB 1276 would change this.
This legislation recognizes both the vulnerability and potential of young adults entering prison. If passed into law AB 1276 would require prisons to more carefully consider where people under the age of 22 should be housed, and make it possible for young adults to be placed on units that are safer and provide more access to programming.
Your help is needed. The California legislature just passed AB 1276 and it now sits on the Governor's desk, awaiting his signature to become law. We cannot take the governor's support for granted. He needs to know that Californians believe this is important.
If he does sign it, young people entering prison will be treated differently. Do you have 10 minutes to help? Please urge Governor Brown to sign this bill into law. Here are easy-to-use sample letters, or you can email or call. Learn more about the bill here: AB 1276. Read Human Rights Watch's letter of support here.
Thank you, Elizabeth
Senior Advocate, Children's Rights Division
Human Rights Watch
11500 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
O: 310.477.5540
ANNOUNCEMENTSHouse meetings?!
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Youth Offender / SB 260 Parole Guide
For families and people on the inside. Click here to get yours. The compete guide in Spanish is now available!
SB 260 Guía de información para los internos, sus familia, y amigos
Audiencia de libertad condicional para juveniles. Aqui en español
Next CARES Call-in Meeting
Mark your calendars! Every first and third Tuesday of the month you can join CARES to hear informative and dynamic speakers on issues important to you. Our next meeting will be September 16, 2014, 8pm.
Compassion acrosstraditional divides Imagine a setting where the family of murder victims and the family of youth sentenced to adult prison terms sit and listen to each other with compassion and care. That is what our group "Healing Dialogue and Action" does. Think you might be interested? Learn more here: Healing Dialogue
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Advocates block youth mandatory minimums

Advocates block youth mandatory minimums
Controversial "Audrie's Law" amended to pass committee
Under pressure from CJCJ and other youth advocates, California State Senator Jim Beall has amended SB 838 (also known as "Audrie's Law") to remove the provision that would have set a new precedent for mandatory minimums in the state's juvenile justice system.
After the bill passed unanimously through the state Senate on May 28, advocates worked to educate state assembly members and citizens on the dangers of mandatory minimum sentences. At the June 17 hearing of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, committee members heard expert testimony against SB 838 from Patti Lee, San Francisco's Deputy Public Defender and a CJCJ board member. More than a dozen organizations — including CJCJ, Human Rights Watch, and the Youth Law Center — also lined up to voice their opposition to the bill.
A week after the hearing, Sen. Beall removed the mandatory minimum provision and the committee passed the amended bill unanimously.
Thank you to all who contacted your representatives and helped protect our juvenile justice system from these punitive and ineffective policies!
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
40 Boardman Place San Francisco,
CA 94103 Phone: (415) 621-5661

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

16-year-old Utah boy was sentenced earlier this month to up to 15 years
A 16-year-old Utah boy was sentenced earlier this month to up to 15 years in a maximum security prison after a judge changed the terms of a plea agreement.
Cooper Van Huizen pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree felony robbery for his role in a home invasion late last year.
The teen, who had no prior criminal history, and his parents believed the plea deal would result in 180 days in jail.
But District Judge Ernie Jones told Van Huizen at the May 7 sentencing hearing he believed the terms recommended by prosecutors and the probation board were “too soft” and instead sent the boy to Utah State Prison for one to 15 years.
Van Huizen cried and begged for mercy as he was led from the courtroom handcuffed in front of sobbing family members.
“He’s 16 years old,” said his father, Marc Van Huizen. “Some 16-years-olds are more mature than others, but Cooper is really soft and tender emotionally. He’s just a nice, sweet young boy, always has been. He’s not this rough-and-tough, wannabe street-wise little kid.”
The teen is being held in a cell alone to protect him from other prisoners at “Uintah 1,” which houses death-row inmates and gang members.
Van Huizen was the youngest member in a group of teens who went to home Nov. 19 and held up two people at gunpoint, seeking money, cell phones, and marijuana.
One of the victims told police he believed the assailants would shoot him after ordering him to lie down on his stomach.
The teens left with $10, a wallet, a cellphone and a bag of marijuana, police said.Van Huizen admits he brought two of his father’s unloaded guns to the robbery, but his attorney said other teens pointed the guns at the victims.
The judge noted during Van Huizen’s sentencing that prosecutors uncovered evidence that the teens planned six similar robberies, but the teen’s attorney said no evidence linked him to the plot.
Van Huizen and his parents are fighting the sentence, saying their defense attorney failed to provide sound legal advice, and their new attorney has asked the judge to reconsider his sentence and allow the teen to withdraw his guilty pleas.
“As I look back on what I did, I recognize that I was reckless in trying to fit in with and please new people I did not really know,” Van Huizen wrote in a court document filed Tuesday. “My judgment was impaired by my use of marijuana.”
Van Huizen’s case was bound over in December to adult court, where he was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary – which carried a possible life sentence.
His mother told the court that Van Huizen’s previous defense attorney said the teen would be eligible for a 402 reduction, which would reduce the felonies to misdemeanors once he completed probation, if he accepted the plea deal.
Attorney Roy Cole said he believed there would be no prison term, and he had asked the court to allow Van Huizen to serve his jail term over the summer so he could complete the school year.
But instead, the judge imposed the maximum prison term for the charges, although the teen’s co-defendant – 17-year-old Joshua Dutson – was sentenced by the same judge to 210 days on the same plea agreement Van Huizen accepted.
Another teen involved in the case, 19-year-old Tomek Perkins, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony counts of attempted robbery and burglary and was sentenced in April to 180 days in jail.
“We were completely shocked,” Marc Van Huizen said. “We were amazed, (and) had I known what I know now, I would not have allowed my son to accept that plea deal. I’m the one who told him to do it. [I thought] we had the ability to put this all behind him.”
Two other teens’ cases remain pending, and no hearing date has been set for Cooper Van Huizen’s motions.
Marc Van Huizen said he believes it would have been fair to keep his son’s case in juvenile court and sentence him to a year in a juvenile detention facility.
“He himself now has complete remorse and regret, forever being a part of that situation and he wishes he could take that day back,” the teen’s father said.
Mark Van Huizen said he has not seen his son since his sentencing due to prison orientation rules, but fears his son will be raped or otherwise harmed at the maximum security prison.
A prison spokeswoman said the teen, who is being held alone for 23 hours a day, would likely be moved eventually to a county jail or another suitable facility.
“The mistake that he made — the first ever he’s made in his life — was a big one,” Marc Van Huizen said.
By Travis Gettys
Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Transgender 16-yo, transferred without charges to adult female prison,

Transgender 16-yo, transferred without charges to adult female prison, or maybe male
Posted: 10 Apr 2014 04:00 AM PDT
Since former Supreme Court justice Joette Katz has taken over the beleaguered Department of Children and Families (DCF), some weird ass shit has been going on over there. The latest is this really outrageous transfer of a transgender 16-year old male who identifies as female to an adult correctional facility.It’s not like she’s actually arrested for anything, though. The Courant reports:
In this case, the youth was arrested at a juvenile facility in Needham, Mass., in late January for an assault on a staff member — but the criminal charge was not pursued by prosecutors in Massachusetts. No criminal charges are pending against the youth.
The police report in Massachusetts said that the assault resulted in ”apparent minor injuries” to the staff member, said [Assistant Public Defender] Connolly, who reviewed the report.However, the incident report prepared by staff at Meadowridge Academy in Needham, does describe a violent outburst by the youth, who was upset, insubordinate and attempting to walk off campus when confronted by two staff members.
So? 16 year olds act out. There are no charges. The most galling part is that this is the very child that Commissioner Katz used as an example in her pitch for a locked detention facility:
On Feb. 14, Katz, while lobbying to open a secure treatment facility for girls in Middletown, brought up this youth’s story in testimony before the legislature’s appropriations committee. Katz didn’t name the youth, but said that a staff member was blinded and had her jaw broken in the assault. Katz said this youth would be appropriate for the locked program, which was the subject of opposition from advocates and some lawmakers. The allocation of $2.5 million was approved and the unit is now open on the campus of the former Riverview Hospital in Middletown.A state source said that the blindness to which Katz referred was temporary, and that the worker’s sight has returned.
Advocates for children are questioning Katz’s decision to use the youth’s story to make her case for DCF’s locked treatment program, while pushing for the youth to be transferred out of DCF care and into an adult prison. DCF’s request for the transfer was filed in court on Feb. 4.
So now this child goes to the adult female prison – the only female prison, pending an evaluation. At which point, they might decide to send her to a men’s prison. Because, you know, that’s even better for this troubled kid.This should come as no surprise, though, to people who follow the state juvenile and adult prison system. They’re quick to shove the problem off to someone else and the last thing you get in our locked facilities – be it for juveniles or adults – is the mental health treatment that so many desperately need.

Being Bullied Throughout Childhood and Teens May Lead to More Arrests

August 1, 2013
Being Bullied Throughout Childhood and Teens May Lead to More Arrests, Convictions, Prison Time
Duration of bullying linked to more adverse legal consequences for victims, study finds
HONOLULU — People who were repeatedly bullied throughout childhood and adolescence were significantly more likely to go to prison than individuals who did not suffer repeated bullying, according to a new analysis presented at the American Psychological Association’s 121st Annual Convention.
Almost 14 percent of those who reported being bullied repeatedly from childhood through their teens ended up in prison as adults, compared to 6 percent of non-victims, 9 percent of childhood-only victims and 7 percent of teen-only victims, the study found. When comparing rates of convictions, more than 20 percent of those who endured chronic bullying were convicted of crimes, compared to 11 percent of non-victims, 16 percent of childhood victims, and 13 percent of teen victims. Compared to nonwhite childhood victims, white childhood victims faced significantly greater odds of going to prison, according to the study.
"Previous research has examined bullying during specific time periods, whereas this study is the first to look at individuals’ reports of bullying that lasted throughout their childhood and teen years, and the legal consequences they faced in late adolescence and as adults," said Michael G. Turner, PhD, of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
The results also revealed that women who were chronically bullied from childhood through their teens faced significantly greater odds of using alcohol or drugs, and of being arrested and convicted than men who had grown up experiencing chronic bullying.
Turner analyzed data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The survey involved 7,335 individuals between the ages of 12 and 16 as of Dec. 31, 1996. The sample reflected the demographics of the United States.
The analysis identified four groups: non-victims (74 percent); those bullied repeatedly before the age of 12 (15 percent); those bullied repeatedly after the age of 12 (6 percent); and those repeatedly victimized before and after the age of 12 (5 percent). Accounts of repeated bullying were collected over several periods and the legal outcomes were assessed when participants’ were in their late teens or adults. These relationships were also examined across gender and race. The study followed youths over a 14-year period from early adolescence into adulthood.
"This study highlights the important role that health care professionals can play early in a child’s life when bullying is not adequately addressed by teachers, parents or guardians," Turner said. "With appropriate questions during routine medical checkups, they can be critical first points of contact for childhood victims. Programs that help children deal with the adverse impacts of repeated bullying could make the difference in whether they end up in the adult legal system."

Despite sustained decreases in rates of violent offending, scientific attention remains
focused on understanding the causes and consequences of violence, as well as evaluating efforts
to prevent such behaviors. One violent-related behavior that continues to receive significant
attention is bullying and bully victimization.1 Identified as the persistent harassment (physical,
verbal, emotional, or psychological) of one individual over another, accompanied by a power
imbalance, bullying has been documented as affecting approximately 30 percent of youth in the
US population.2,3 Empirical evidence related to the impact of bullying indicates those who bully
and/or experience a bully victimization report disproportionately higher levels of adverse social,
psychological, legal, and mental health outcomes.4-16 Two important themes emerge upon
review of this research. First, bully-victims (individuals engaging in bullying as well as who
have been victimized by a bully), are generally at the highest odds of exhibiting negative
outcomes later in life.2,17-21 Second, individuals engaging in the bullying experience most
frequently report the highest levels of negative consequences.9,11,14,15
A notable limitation of past research is that the bullying and victimization experiences
were only assessed for a restricted period of the life course.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Teen Gets 118 Years

By Louis Hansen
The Virginian-Pilot
In one of his final acts in office, Gov. Bob McDonnell commuted to 40 years the sentence of Travion Blount, the Norfolk man convicted as a teen of armed robbery and originally sentenced to more than six life terms in prison.The partial pardon leaves Blount, now 23, with a chance for freedom, although his sentence is more than three times the length of his older co-defendants.Janet V. Kelly, secretary of the commonwealth under McDonnell, said the governor considered Blount's criminal history and conduct in prison. McDonnell believed a reduction to 40 years was a "just punishment," she said.Blount was 15 when he and two men robbed a house party. No shots were fired, and Blount injured no one. The men, both 18, pleaded guilty and received 10- and 13-year sentences. Blount went to trial and was sentenced to six life terms plus 118 years. It may be the longest sentence for a teen convicted of a crime not involving homicide.John Coggeshall, Blount's lawyer, said he was pleased and disappointed at the decision. "I'm pleased that, from now on, every waking moment of his life, Travion Blount knows he won't die in prison," he said. But family and advocates reacted to the news with shock, sadness and anger."Forty years. Wow. I mean, why?" his mother, Angela Blount, said.If Blount serves the minimum sentence, he will be about 50 when he is released. His parents would be in their 70s.Blount's legal team will continue to work through the courts and legislature to further reduce his sentence, Coggeshall said.Blount could also benefit from a bill introduced in the General Assembly, Coggeshall said. The proposal, authored by state Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, would allow a panel of judges to review sentences of juvenile offenders facing life for nonhomicide crimes after they have served at least 20 years. Blount is one of 22 Virginia inmates given life without parole for crimes not involving homicide.In September 2006, Blount and the two young men targeted an alleged drug dealer's home in Norfolk. The three arrived to find a house party with a dozen young people, some drinking and smoking marijuana. Blount and his friends pulled guns, stole small amounts of cash and weed, and drove away.They were quickly caught. Prosecutors offered Blount a minimum of an 18-year sentence if he agreed to plead guilty to some charges. His lawyer advised him to take the agreement. Blount refused, saying he did not commit every crime for which he was accused.Norfolk prosecutors charged him with four felonies for each victim. A jury convicted him of 49 felonies. His case was profiled in The Virginian-Pilot in November.An administration official said the story was immediately given to the governor. McDonnell and his staff were considering clemency before a formal petition was filed in late December. A review of Blount's record showed he had pleaded guilty to other robberies and later violated prison rules.Joe Dillard, president of the Norfolk chapter of the NAACP, said the organization wants Blount to receive a sentence similar to the co-defendants. Forty years is too long, he said. "We're not going to stop here."Supporters of Blount are planning a rally for him on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Norfolk.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I asked the Lord To Bless you

I asked the Lord To Bless you
As I Prayed For You Today
To Guide You And Protect You
As You Go along Your Way
His Love is Always With You
His Promises Are True.
And When We Give Him All our Cares
You Know He'll See us Through*
So When The Road Your Traveling On~
Seems Difficult At best
Just Remember I'm Here Praying~
And God Will Do The Rest
~Author Unknown~
I Love You Amber Rose*
I Miss You Every Minute Of Every Day

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sentenced To 70 Yrs: At Age 14

TALLAHASSEE – The state Supreme Court should determine whether a 70-year sentence for a 14-year-old essentially amounts to life in prison, and therefore should be barred, a lower court said Tuesday.
Shimeek Gridine
A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled unanimously on Tuesday that it doesn’t in the case of Shimeek Gridine, who was convicted after guilty pleas to attempted murder and armed robbery in a 2009 case.
Gridine, who had to be sentenced to at least 25 years because he used a gun in the crime, was sentenced to 70 years in prison. His lawyers argued that such a long sentence would mean he very well might die in prison, making the sentence effectively a life term. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that juveniles can’t be sentenced to life in prison for crimes other than murder.
Request rejected
The 1st DCA first rejected Gridine’s appeal in 2011, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court specifically ruled that such “functional life sentences” only applied to juveniles sentenced to life without parole which wasn’t the case in Gridine’s situation.

Gridine’s lawyers asked for a rehearing on the issue, and on Tuesday a different three-judge panel than the one that ruled against him two years ago rejected that request.
But in doing so, the appeals court asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in on whether a 70-year sentence is functionally a life sentence for a 14-year-old and thereby barred by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Measure fails
Courts have ruled in different ways on the question since the U.S. Supreme Court ban on life sentences for juveniles. The 1st DCA recently said an 80-year sentence handed down to an Escambia County 17-year-old was unconstitutional.
During the previous two legislative sessions, lawmakers have considered legislation aimed at dealing with the question, but have failed to pass a bill.
This past session the House passed a bill that would have required a review of the sentence after 25 years for any juvenile sentenced to life or any other long sentence. That measure, however, failed to pass the Senate.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Drop Charges Against Transgender Teen Defending Herself

Drop charges against transgender teen defending herself!
By Valerie Poquiz
Hercules, California

My sister, Jewlyes Gutierrez, is a 16 year old teenager, who identifies as a transgender female.
Her gender identity has caused her to be a victim of taunting, harassment, and bullying by her peers. On
November 13, 2013, Jewlyes defended herself against three girls who were tormenting and then physically attacked her. This was captured on video and you can see Jewlyes trying to run away. The students involved were suspended but to our disbelief, District Attorney Daniel Cabral then filed charges against Jewlyes for battery - she's the only one charged.
Jewlyes should not be charged criminally. Rather, this altercation should be the responsibility of the school district, who should take proper action and implement the necessary resources to prevent incidents like these from happening again.

One of the girls who attacked Jewlyes had repeated bullied her - even spitting gum in her face. Jewlyes sought help from the assistant principal in fear of her physical safety but the issue was not properly addressed, no necessary action was taken by the administration. The bullying continued.

Jewlyes attends Hercules High School in Hercules, CA - part of the Contra Costa Unified School District. Even the school district president disagrees with the charges being brought against Jewlyes: "This is just a young child who is 16-years-old, already going through a lot of stress," he said. "This is a remedy? Is this the way we want to deal with children?"

Violence towards transgender and queer youth is a serious problem. Recently in Oakland, CA, a transgender teen was lit on fire. What message is the District Attorney's Office sending when they prosecute a transgender teen who school officials labeled as the victim in this incident?

Tell District Attorney we are outraged by the decision to charge Jewlyes and that we hope he will use his discretion to allow for a restorative and educational solution rather than the court system to deal with what happened at Hercules High School.

Please tell the District Attorneys Office that we want our tax dollars spent on teaching tolerance and on conflict resolution programs in schools, not on prosecuting youth who are in need of a safe learning environment.

Another Juvenile Locked Away By Malicious Prosecution,Judicial Corruption

Sunday, November 22, 2009
Debby Rabold for her son Aaron Daniel
Monday, April 27, 2009 @ The Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg

An OPEN LETTER - to Pennsylvania’s Senior US Senator Arlen Specter
Subject: Judicial Corruption … Malicious Prosecution, Wrongful Convictions, Alarming Prison Population and Overcrowding, and Inmate Abuse
Senator Specter: I have visited your Scranton and Harrisburg offices on numerous occasions over the last couple of years, and attended a town meeting you had held in Stroudsburg/Monroe County, Pennsylvania. I have spoken with your staff members and have given them copies of documents that I had filed in Federal Court … as well as had provided copies, thereof, to The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, including in-depth reports with supportive documents submitted to The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.
The issues that are raised in those documents and in my conversations with your staff members concern:
1) The high … and continually growing prison population in Pennsylvania,
2) Malicious Prosecutions … subsequently resulting in Wrongful Convictions,
3) The violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights by The Courts and its Officers,
4) The abuse of prison inmates … and,
5) Evidence that counties within northeastern Pennsylvania [Monroe, Luzerne, Carbon, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, and others] have clearly been operating in blatant violation of: Federal RICO Statutes … and furthermore, are constantly bringing about Wrongful Convictions on our helpless law-abiding citizenry.
Especially outrageous are the assaults upon the disabled, as in the case of my autistic son, Aaron Daniel Rabold, who was maliciously prosecuted and wrongfully convicted in Monroe County without any evidence to suggest that he was involved in the incident at-issue. He was never tried for committing a criminal act – but rather, as to whether he was mentally ill or legally insane.
He was neither. He suffers from: Autism Spectrum Disorder – which is a biological and neurological disorder. Furthermore: All of the evidence directly relative to the specific alleged incident at-issue was clearly exculpatory, and subsequently was withheld from the jury.
My son, Aaron was incarcerated for over two years before going to his sham: Show-Trial, as his Public Defender filed continuance after continuance. My son had made a conscious decision NOT to waive his Rule 600 [Right to Speedy Trial].
His public defender intentionally signed the waiver without my son’s knowledge, nor his consent.
My son was sentenced to fourteen to twenty-eight years in state prison. He has been incarcerated since March 13, 2003 – [now over six years]. For two of those six years he was completely cut off from any contact with his family and the outside world, as he was unable to put anybody on his visitor list, and the prison personnel would not help him.
He is presently being held at SCI Waymart. He is emaciated due to his severe digestive disorders. He is very over-medicated and suffering the life-threatening side effects of that medication, and resembles a typical inmate held at a Nazi Concentration Camp - or recently, such a camp in the former Yugoslavia.
He has been sexually assaulted, beaten, and tortured [with electricity]. This had occurred at various State Correctional Institutions in Pennsylvania. He has been held at five State Correctional Institutions, plus the depraved Monroe County Correctional Facility -- which has rightfully earned a reputation for sexual abuse by the guards, as well as far too many other indiscretions to begin addressing right now.
It is my understanding that you have joined: US Senator Webb [from Virginia] in addressing the appalling rate of imprisonment in our country. This high rate is definitely not due to any overwhelming rate of actual criminal activity, except, of course, by members of the judiciary, et al -- as has been clearly demonstrated by the outrageous and well-covered incident which finally had been identified in Luzerne County regarding the atrocities which were committed by: Judges Ciavarella and Conahan.
If a preliminary investigation was ever dared to be carried out in other counties – specifically in Monroe, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, and Carbon – there would be no doubt, whatsoever, that many other violations of the law are regularly being committed by: The Police … District Justices, District Attorneys and their cohorts in-crime [the Public Defenders], as well as the County Judges.
Some information about this situation may be gleaned by reading the documents which I had diligently shared with The Federal Court [Ref: 03: 06 CV 2474 ... 03: 07 CV 2031 ... 03: 08 CV 0445] … as well as the entire folder of documentation docketed with:
The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons … per: Application No.: 23753 (Aaron Daniel Rabold).
Further: The Pennsylvania prisons are over-crowded, and too many inmates are being deprived of a nutritious diet, as well as appropriate medical care. These inmates have been reduced to abject poverty, are physically and psychologically abused by the prison environment, and are evidently being denied their Civil and Human Rights. Additionally, we have an overwhelming rate of:

Wrongfully Convicted Innocent Inmates and those who had received extremely harsh sentences for what were forgivable types of minor offenses. Today’s prison situation in our Commonwealth may aptly be considered as: Modern-Day Slavery – and as well: “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”.
Please take the time to read the documents that I had referred to you, and bring investigations against these corrupt counties in northeastern Pennsylvania – and the illegal, unethical actions of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Finally: Please do whatever you can to come to the aid of my innocent, gentle, abused, indigent autistic son - and to secure his immediate release from the custody of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- while he remains alive. It should go without saying here - that one would now expect you to promptly incite a full-fledged Federal Inquiry into the unforgiving facts which I had just briefly outlined, herein.
Responsibly yours,
Debby Rabold

Friday, January 3, 2014

DC’s Youth Face Solitary Confinement in District Jails

DC’s Youth Face Solitary Confinement in District Jails and Federal Prisons by Abby Taskier Just east of Capitol Hill, on 19th Street between D and E streets, lies a complex of reddish brown concrete buildings. These are the District of Columbia’s jail facilities – the Central Detention Facility (CDF) and The Central Treatment Facility (CTF). Along with some 2,000 adults, these buildings house children under the age of 18 who have been charged as adults. For Michael Kemp and Alisha Carrington, both of whom were sent to the DC jails at the age of 16, doing time here meant being locked down 23 hours a day, alone, in small, barren cells. Like many other youth in adult jails, Michael and Alisha were isolated as a form of “protection” against other prisoners. This was administered in the form of solitary confinement, which Alisha and Michael endured for months. Prison isolation lasting more than a few weeks has been shown to cause serious, and sometimes permanent, psychological damage in adults. For youth, the effects are believed to be even more severe. In his 2012 report Growing up Locked Down, published by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, Ian Kysel writes: “Experts assert that young people are psychologically unable to handle solitary confinement with the resilience of an adult. And, because they are still developing, traumatic experiences like solitary confinement may have a profound effect on their chance to rehabilitate and grow.” In Washington, DC, as in many other jail systems, the law demands that kids charged as adults be housed away from the general population to ensure the children's safety. According to DC Department of Corrections spokesperson Sylvia Lane, “juveniles being adjudicated as adults, remanded to the custody of the DC Department of Corrections (DCDOC) are housed in a dedicated unit within the Correctional Treatment Facility." Since 1997, CTF has been privately run under a 20-year contract with the giant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). "They are kept out of the ‘sight and sound’ of the adult population.” In practice, this "safety" measure often amounts to near-complete isolation. The Campaign for Youth Justice’s (CYJ) 2007 report on youth in DC's adult criminal justice system states that “in a recent visit to the DC Jail, facility staff indicated that 14 of the 42 youth currently held in the jail are on administrative segregation, which means that they can spend as much as 23.5 hours a day, for 30 days at a time, in a segregated cell.” "Just Living in Steel and Concrete" The CYJ report also states: "One young woman [was] held in DC Jail since August 2006, and since there is no separate wing for juvenile female offenders, she was spending 23 hours a day locked in her cell.” The young woman from the report is Alisha Carrington. Alisha first entered into the juvenile justice system when she was 13 years old. She was arrested again in 2006, and her case drew attention because it “marked the first time in recent memory in the District that a girl was charged as an adult with murder,” according to the Washington Post. When I meet her for an interview, Alisha sits behind a table in a small classroom situated inside of the DC Church of the Pilgrims on P Street. Recalling the reason for her arrest in 2006, Alisha says, “I was coming home real late after sneaking out to a party.” She pauses. “A neighbor had grabbed me into his home, and I stabbed him.” Due to the violent nature of her crime, Alisha was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, and sent to the DC jail system to await trial. Alisha’s attorneys argued that she should be moved to a secure psychiatric facility, citing her mental health problems. A DC Superior Court judge said that the city was probably violating federal law by housing her in solitary. “Quite frankly, I think it’s barbaric…I think it’s barbaric to keep someone in that kind of condition, given her age,” Judge Wendell P. Gardner Jr. stated. But he also said that he lacked the authority to remove her. Housed in isolation for several months at CTF, Alisha says that her cell “was the size of your bathroom, maybe, if that. [There was] a bunk bed, a steel toilet, and a desk.” Being the only juvenile female in CTF at the time, Alisha had no medium for human contact or programming. In order to get her access to even one book, Alisha’s lawyer had to plead with the court. Michael Kemp, first incarcerated at the age of 12, was charged as an adult in 2007, also at the age of 16. Charged with robbery, Michael was housed at the Central Detention Facility, the government-owned DC Jail facility, which up until recently also housed juvenile males charged as adults. Now they are held in the juvenile unit at CTF. He says that his cell was “4 by 9, or 6 by 9…Basically you live in a bathroom, not a mansion bathroom, but a regular house sized bathroom. And a steel bed and a steel desk. Just living in steel and concrete.” Michael was put into solitary, without access to programming or any general facilities for 6 months because he “was on special handling.” The CYJ report states: “Youth on protective custody are also segregated from the rest of the juvenile population and may face the same constraints as those on administrative segregation.”