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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Juveniles In Solitary Confinement

Juveniles In Solitary Confinement

The recently signed order by President Barack Obama banning solitary confinement for juveniles in federal institutions will have no effect on prisoners, juvenile or adult in the California prison system. In fact, while the President’s order is a step forward and will hopefully be a North Star for other corrections authorities, there are only a few dozen juveniles in federal custody and only about a dozen in solitary confinement who will be affected by the order. And, again, no one in a California state-run prison comes under the federal order.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Delaware Shackling Kids In Court

Push to End Shackling of Juveniles
(Information in this item comes from this January 23 News Journal article.)
Should juvenile defendants automatically be shackled in metal leg irons when they enter a ‪‎Delaware courtroom? Rep. J.J. Johnson says this is an arcane practice that needs to stop, especially considering that adult defendants typically are not shackled during trial so it doesn't influence juries.
Crimes range from drug possession and theft to gun charges and rape. All are in state custody because they cannot afford to post bail. All are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Rep. Johnson is sponsoring HB 211, which would limit the use of shackles except in rare circumstances where the court can show that restraints are necessary to prevent flight or physical harm to the child or others. Nearly half of all states have ended this practice in the United States. In January 2014, the National Juvenile Defender Center, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., launched a nationwide campaign to end indiscriminate juvenile shackling.
Defense attorneys and child advocates say this daily scene in Family Court is grisly – youth are restrained and left traumatized by a criminal justice system that is supposed to rehabilitate, not punish, them.
“People are realizing that the things we have done in the past have not worked and should be changed,” Rep. Johnson said. “This is one of the changes that should be made.”

Delaware House Democrats
411 Legislative Avenue
Dover, DE 19901

Monday, January 25, 2016

Retroactively Appling Ban On LWOP For Kids

United States Supreme Court Rules Miller v. Alabama Is Retroactive

January 25, 2016

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The United States Supreme Court today decided that states must retroactively apply the ban on mandatory death-in-prison sentences for juveniles.

In 2012, EJI lawyers argued at the Supreme Court that sentencing kids to life in prison without parole for any offense is cruel and unusual punishment, relying on the Court's recognition that children are less culpable than adults because of their unique immaturity, impulsiveness, vulnerability, and capacity for redemption and rehabilitation. On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court issued an historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama, holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. The Court wrote that requiring sentencers to consider “children’s diminished culpability, and heightened capacity for change” should make such sentences “uncommon.”

Most state courts, including the highest courts of Arkansas, Nebraska, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire, Illinois, Mississippi, Iowa, Massachusetts, Texas, and Wyoming, as well as federal courts across the country, applied Miller retroactively to people already serving the banned sentence and granted them new sentencing hearings, but a handful of states, including Louisiana, refused to do so.

Today's decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana now requires all states to apply Miller retroactively, which means that in Louisiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Colorado, hundreds of people who were sentenced to die in prison for crimes when they were children are now entitled to new sentencing hearings.

Writing for the Court, Justice Kennedy explained that Miller is retroactive because it announced a substantive rule of constitutional law. Because Miller bars life without parole sentences for all but the rarest of juvenile offenders, "it rendered life without parole an unconstitutional penalty for 'a class of defendants because of their status' -- that is, juvenile offenders whose crimes reflect the transient immaturity of youth."

The Court underscored why Miller is a substantive rule: "Before Miller, every juvenile convicted of a homicide offense could be sentenced to life without parole. After Miller, it will be the rare juvenile offender who can receive that same sentence."

People serving juvenile life-without-parole sentences must now be afforded hearings where "youth and its attendant characteristics" are considered as sentencing factors. Alternatively, the Court wrote that states "may remedy a Miller violation by permitting juvenile homicide offenders to be considered for parole, rather than by resentencing them."

Importantly, states must provide an opportunity for release "to those who demonstrate the truth of Miller's central intuition -- that children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change."

Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What Really Happens When Cops Question Kids?

What Really Happens When Cops Question Kids?

Presentation by Barry Feld

December 6, 2012, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
125 Nolte Center for Continuing Education

This study analyzes quantitative and qualitative data of interrogations of 307 sixteen- and seventeen-year-old youths charged with felony offenses. The findings bear on three policy issues: procedural safeguards for youths, time limits for interrogations, and mandatory recording of interrogations.

Barry Feld is a Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota

Organized by the 2012-2013 IAS collaborative Child and Youth Studies Across the Curriculum.