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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.”