The first time he got into trouble with a deadly weapon, he was in middle school.
Chagolla, now 20, is out of jail for the second time, and, he claims, for good. Things are different after this release. Chagolla has a mentor. He has job training. He has a high school diploma. He is attending Los Angeles Community Community College. He has a wide network of other young adults also locked up as juveniles who are working to stay healthy, law-abiding and responsible.
Tens of thousands of juveniles in lockup nationally are not getting the education, health care, psychological help and vocational help they need. And that’s a pity, experts say.
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Justice has intervened in a state lawsuit alleging juvenile defendants have been routinely denied adequate representation.
“Due process requires that every child who faces the loss of liberty should be represented from their first appearance through, at least, the disposition of their case by an attorney with the training, resources and time to effectively advocate the child’s interest,” the DOJ said in its 22-page statement of interest.
“If a child decides to waive the right to an attorney, courts must ensure that the waiver is knowing, intelligent, and voluntary by requiring consultation with counsel before the court accepts the waiver.”
WASHINGTON — The United Nations top investigator on torture has delivered a scathing criticism of juvenile justice practices common in the United States, including routine detention of youths, solitary confinement and sentences of life without parole for children.
“Government must focus on the needs of families, must be the protector of neighborhoods and must guard the people from the enormous power of monied interests. Now my friends, it can be done, but not by elected leaders alone. It requires average New Yorkers who simply refuse to allow their community’s voices to be stifled. It’s their spirit that I intend to sweep into City Hall. A spirit that shouts that all boroughs were created equal and that all our residents matter! So, let’s be honest about where we are today. This is a place that in too many ways has become a tale of two cities. …” — Bill de Blasio
What do you think should happen when a kid is incarcerated? If you’re like most Americans, you think rehabilitation should be a top priority for youth correctional facilities, according to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts. But are kids actually getting what they need in facilities to ensure they don’t commit new crimes when they return home? Evidently not:
Two-thirds of these youth don’t return to school after their release from secure custody. Even though parents and families are the most important factor in determining youth success in reintegrating into the community, only one in three families report being included in any release plans made for their children by juvenile facilities. Continue Reading →
Compromises are often necessary in the political process, but not if they stand in the way of racial justice and fundamental fairness. In New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed laudable legislation this week.
Unfortunately, the specifics of the proposal embody significant and damaging compromises. Continue Reading →
In the spirit of learning from the successes of others beyond our borders, we should embrace some of the successful practices and policies for young adults in conflict with the law from our counterparts in the United Kingdom and Germany. Continue Reading →
Just as the “superpredator” label had unfairly distorted perceptions of her young newspaper staff, writer Nell Bernstein said, youth incarceration as a whole is “a system custom-designed to erode humanity.”
“Once you put someone in an orange jumpsuit and put a label like ‘offender’ or ‘delinquent’ on him or her, it’s very easy to start thinking of that person as a different kind of child,” she said. Continue Reading →
WASHINGTON — Six petitions have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to consider whether its landmark 2012 Miller v. Alabama ruling declaring mandatory sentences of juvenile life without parole unconstitutional should apply to cases decided before the ruling. Continue Reading →
Texas voters support sending nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of jail, according to an opinion poll from Right on Crime, a national campaign for criminal justice reform. Continue Reading →
The Washington-based nonprofit Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY) released the 24-page “Trial Defense Guidelines: Representing a Child Client Facing a Possible Life Sentence” in response to findings of the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision. Continue Reading →