Tag: juvenile offenders

Supreme Court To Hear Death in Prison for Teens Cases

(Bumped. And Sentencing Law and Policy has lots more links.)On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging laws imposing life sentences without parole on juveniles who are not convicted of murder.

The cases are both from Florida: The Equal Justice Initiative has an excellent synopsis of Florida v. Sullivan and Sullivan v. Graham in layman's terms.

Both cases ask the Court to address whether the differences between children and adults that led the Court to strike down the death penalty for children also make permanent imprisonment a constitutionally impermissible punishment for a child.


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Debunking Juvenile Sex Offender Myths

The New York Times Magazine today focuses on juvenile sex offenders, asking where is the line that divides a kid between being a sex offender and merely having boundary issues -- and questioning the wisdom of lifetime community notification laws for juveniles convicted of sex offenses.

It's a ten page feature article, but here are some highlights:

Community notification makes people feel protected — who wouldn’t want to know if a sex offender lives next door? But studies have yet to prove that the law does, in fact, improve public safety. Meanwhile, when applied to youths, the laws undercut a central tenet of the juvenile justice system. Since juvenile courts were created more than 100 years ago, youths’ records have, with exceptions in some states, been sealed and kept out of the public’s hands. The theory is that children are less responsible for their actions, and thus less blameworthy, than adults and more amenable to rehabilitation. But by publishing their photographs and addresses on the Internet, community notification suggests that juveniles with sex offenses are in a separate, distinct category from other adolescents in the juvenile justice system — more fixed in their traits and more dangerous to the public. It suggests, in other words, that they are more like adult sex offenders than they are like kids.


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Reports: More Kids Are In Adult Prisons for Non-Violent Offenses

More and more kids are being locked up in adult jails. A new reports finds:

Despite a federal law that prohibits the incarceration of youth in adult correctional facilities, the number of young people held in jails across the country has exploded by 208 percent since the 1990s, according to a new report released today at the national press club by the Campaign for Youth Justice.

States exploit a loophole in federal law, which was designed to protect youth from the proven dangers of adult jails but only applies to youth in the juvenile justice system. Congress is considering the reauthorization of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) this year, and advocates are asking that all youth under 18 be protected from incarceration in adult facilities.

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Virginia Amends Juvenile Transfer Law

From the Campaign 4 Youth Justice Organization, a group dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating children under 18 in the adult criminal justice system:

The Virginia legislature recently passed a bill by Delegate Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax) that amends Virginia's "once an adult, always an adult" law so that it is applied more fairly to youth.

Previously, merely transferring a youth to adult court was enough to trigger the "once an adult, always an adult" law. This meant that youth transferred to the adult system were treated as an adult in all future proceedings, no matter how minor the charge, even if they were acquitted or had their case dismissed.

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7 Ex-Prison Guards Charged With Manslaughter in Boot Camp Death

7 former prison guards and a nurse have been charged with manslaughter in the beating death of juvenile offender Martin Lee Anderson, age 14.

The surveillance tape showed guards kneeing and punching the boy repeatedly during a 30-minute encounter. Guards said he was uncooperative and had refused to participate in exercises.

The death sparked protests at the state Capitol and led to the elimination of the state's military-style boot camp system and the resignation of Florida's top law enforcement officer. If convicted, the former guards and the nurse - who authorities say watched the melee - could get up to 30 years in prison.

Lee later collapsed and died in the excercise yard. Lee was incarcerated for violating probation on a theft case. Here's much more on the case. Here's the video of the beating.

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