Two days after receiving a life sentence without parole for the murder of a 7-year-old Canton, Ga. girl, Ryan Brunn apparently killed himself in his prison cell Thursday, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Brunn, an apartment groundskeeper, testified at a hearing Tuesday that he lured Jorelys Rivera to an empty apartment before molesting and killing her. Her body was found in a trash compactor three days after she went missing on December 2, 2011. DoC spokesperson Kirsten Stancil said Brunn was found unresponsive at 4:15 p.m. in his cell at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
A captain at the youth detention center in Augusta, Ga., has been suspended as part of an investigation into the death of a 19-year-old inmate Nov. 8, The Augusta Chronicle reported. Jade Holder died of blunt force trauma to the head after being beaten the previous day inside the YDC. Another inmate, 17-year-old Michael Jarod Everidge, was charged with Holder’s murder. Department of Juvenile Justice spokesperson Emily Gest told The Chronicle the captain was suspended with pay pending an investigation into possible misconduct.
I was in my car recently listening to news radio when I heard that one of our deputies was killed trying to apprehend an armed robbery suspect. I was shocked and pained -- I knew the deputy. What followed magnified my pain. It quickly morphed to anger -- the suspect was Jonathon Bun, a 17 year old with juvenile court history in my county. In this business we must ask ourselves: “Could we have done anything different to prevent this tragedy?” I understand Mr. Bun is innocent until proven guilty, but solely for the purpose of self-assessment, there is much we can learn from Mr. Bun and his journey through the juvenile justice system that may improve the way we do business -- that could reduce the number of victims-and maybe save lives. We know from the research that 8 percent of all kids arrested for the first time are serious high-risk offenders. We call them the “8 Percent Problem.” This small percentage of juveniles are arrested repeatedly (a minimum of four times within a 3-year period) and are responsible for about 55 percent of repeat cases. In other words, most of the serious juvenile crimes are committed by a handful of kids in our communities. If we can target that 8 percent, we can significantly reduce serious juvenile crime. We call that the “8 Percent Solution.”
We have also learned from the research that this “8 Percent Problem” population possesses identifiable characteristics.
The continuing debate about sentencing juveniles to life without parole has real-world implications for a 12-year-old boy in Jacksonville, Fla., accused of killing his two-year-old half-brother. The Florida attorney general, Angela Corey (pictured at left) charged Christian Fernandez as an adult in the first-degree murder case. Corey quoted in the Florida Times-Union, said eight years was not enough time to rehabilitate Fernandez. But his adult status leaves Fernandez open to the possibility of a life sentence. The Times-Union story describes how Corey’s staff spent two months examining the 12-year-old before deciding how to charge him. The story also takes a long look at the history of juvenile life without parole sentences.
I was asked this past week to visit the North Carolina General Assembly and speak to legislators about effective juvenile justice practices -- what works and what doesn’t work. Like Georgia and most states, North Carolina too was hit hard by the economy and is making hard decisions to cut programs — the state is 3.6 billion in the hole. The irony of budgeting in a fiscal crisis is that it forces policymakers to scrutinize the way things have always been done. When you have to cut, the question is what to cut and hopefully the less effective programs are cut and replaced by more effective and cost efficient alternatives. Our discussions in North Carolina focused on what works and what doesn’t work -- and typically what works is more cost effective. What doesn’t work is less effective and more expensive to the taxpayer --incarceration of kids in most circumstances is ineffective.
A 12-year-old Colorado boy may be charged with the murder of his parents, the local district attorney said. Police in Burlington, Colo., found the bodies of Charles and Marilyn Long in their home Mar. 1 after the boy called 911. The 12-year-old’s two siblings were seriously injured, according to police, but are expected to recover. The district attorney is contemplating charging the boy as an adult. He will appear first in juvenile court. Neighbors were shocked by the murders. According to a story in Time, the family was very religious and the homeschooled boy volunteered at his church.
An Augusta-area 14-year-old is accused of shooting his neighbor and hiding her body in the woods. Police say the boy, Lacy Aaron Schmidt, shot Alana Callahan, also 14, in the head and neck while she sat at her home computer on January 31. According to the Augusta-Chronicle, Schmidt first said Alana was killed by an intruder before saying he shot her accidently. Police say Alana was killed by a 9 mm handgun, the same kind owned by her father. Authorities later found the gun hidden in Schmidt’s home.
A teen has been charged with the first murder of 2011 in Savannah, Ga. Trevonte Edwards, 16, is accused of killing 78-year-old John Green after stealing his wallet outside a convenience store where Green purchased a loaf of bread. Edwards was denied bail in his first court appearance this morning. Edwards was found in a rooming house Tuesday with 9 others believed to have been involved in a rash of recent burglaries, according to the Savannah Morning News.
An Albany, Ga. teen charged with murder may be fighting for his life. Anthony Hill, 16, could be facing the death penalty for his role in a convenience store robbery that left a clerk dead, according to Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards. Surveillance video shows two men wearing ski masks enter the Miscelenea Guate-Mex Store waving guns. After robbing the store, police say one of the men shot and killed the store clerk, Sentos Vincente. They are still searching for the second man. Hill appeared before a Magistrate judge yesterday. A Superior Court judge will decide on bail at a later hearing.
The 14-year old boy accused of working as a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel has become the poster child for a generation of kids recruited by gangs around the world. Edgar Jimenez Lugo, also known as “El Ponchis,” has allegedly confessed to participating in four murders involving torture and decapitation. He told investigators that he was drugged and his life was threatened while he worked for the South Pacific Cartel, a criminal organization linked to 200 murders. Time Magazine examines the worldwide impact of this story which has made headlines from Atlanta to Australia. The teenager is actually an American citizen, born in San Diego, arrested in Cuernavaca. In the U.S. he might be tried as an adult, but under Mexican law he’s a juvenile and will likely get just three years in prison if convicted. People who work with children are disgusted by the case but not surprised. Sister Margaret Slowick, a member of the Sisters of St.