U.S. Supreme Court Questions If Juvenile Killers Should be Given Second Chance

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in the cases of two offenders, sentenced at a young age to die in prison, and may choose to further limit such sentences for minors. Kuntrell Jackson of Arkansas and Evan Miller of Alabama were both 14 years old when they were convicted of a homicide, and both were sentenced to life sentences without the possibility of parole (LWOP). For more on the background of their cases, click here. A juvenile’s “deficits in maturity and judgment and decision-making are not crime specific,” said Bryan Stevenson, who represented both offenders. “All children are encumbered by the same barriers.” Stevenson argued that this was the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the court’s other two recent cases on juvenile sentencing, Roper v Simmons and Graham v Florida.

A Look at Youth-Related Spending in Obama’s 2013 Budget

This story originally appeared on YouthToday. President Barack Obama unveiled his 2013 budget proposal today, which calls for $3.8 trillion in spending and projects a $901 billion deficit for the year. It was quickly met with resistance from Republican leadership. “The President’s budget falls exceptionally short in many critical areas – including a lack of any substantive proposal for mandatory and entitlement spending reform,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), in a statement issued this morning. Rogers promised to “go line by line through the President’s budget, prioritize programs, and make decisions on the appropriate investment of discretionary funds.”

Juvenile Justice

The president would fund the Office of Justice Programs at $1.7 billion in 2013, down from $2.7 billion in 2011 and $2 billion in 2012.

A Q&A With H. Ted Rubin, Tireless Advocate and Chronicler of Youth

The oldest kids in the system when H. Ted Rubin was a Colorado juvenile judge are now 57 years old. But Rubin has never the left the field; he has been a researcher, advocate, and most notably, reporter and author since he left the bench in 1971. His sixth book, “Juvenile Justice: Policies, Practices, and Programs Volume II,” was just released by Civic Research Institute, for whom Rubin also serves as a regular contributor to the excellent Juvenile Justice Update. The tome spoons out updates for readers on all aspects of juvenile justice from the front door of the system to deep-end placements, mixing citation of news and research with the author’s opinions on issues and trends. It is part reference and part editorial, a book only a guy with Rubin’s breadth of experience could write with credibility.

Congress Makes Further Cuts to Juvenile Justice Funding

House and Senate appropriations leaders finalized a “minibus” spending package that further reduces the relevance of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and possibly jeopardizes the office’s connection with state governments. The bill – which funds the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development – trims the allocation from an already-reduced $275 million in fiscal 2011 to $262.5 million for fiscal 2012. The minibus package contains another continuing resolution allowing the government to operate through December 16. The structure of the juvenile justice funding comes from the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill, which drastically reduced funding but kept some for each program of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Under the agreement reached by appropriations confereees, the funding levels for OJJDP’s biggest programs, which include state formula grants, mentoring and missing and exploited children, more closely mirror what was proposed by the House appropriators.

Casey Foundation Effort Aims to Half Incarceration of Juveniles

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is commencing a new juvenile justice initiative aimed at reducing juvenile incarceration by 50 percent in 10 years, beginning with the release of a report that makes the case for such a drastic reduction.

“An avalanche of research has emerged over the past three decades about what works and doesn’t work in combating juvenile crime,” stated the report “No Place for Kids,” written by freelance reporter Richard Mendel for the Baltimore-based foundation. “We now have overwhelming evidence showing that wholesale incarceration of juvenile offenders is a counterproductive public policy.”

Bart Lubow, Casey’s director of programs for high-risk youth, said the foundation will begin work next year with a series of states where officials want to make policy shifts that will affect their reliance on youth correctional facilities.

“The report marks the launch of an extended period of work intended to limit youth incarceration and replace it with a dispositional system that will work better and produce better results,” Lubow said in an interview with Youth Today.

Senate Committee Approves Funding to OJJDP, With Cuts

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill this afternoon that would fund the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Programs at $251 million, approximately $24 million below the diminished budget that the agency faced this fiscal year after a last-minute spending deal.

The committee broke up the $251 million in spending this way:

-$60 million for the missing and exploited children programs.

-$55 million for mentoring grants.

-$45 million for state formula grants, given to states on the condition that they adhere to basic standards in regard to the detainment of juveniles, and address racial disparities in the system.

-$30 million for Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG), which go to state juvenile justice planning agencies based on the size of a state’s youth population.

-$20 million for the Victims of Child Abuse Programs.

-$15 million for tribal youth

-$10 million for alcohol-abuse prevention

-$8 million for gang and youth violence prevention

-$8 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, a project conceived by the Obama administration in 2009.

Those specific lines may be important if and when there is a conference involving the Senate and House funding legislation, because the House Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill in August that would spend just over $200 million on Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention programs, but eliminates most federal funding for actual juvenile justice activities.The bill is expected to receive a vote from the full House soon.
The House committee cut juvenile justice demonstration grants, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) and Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants out of its 2012 bill. House appropriators also reduced state formula grants from $75 million in 2010 to $40 million for 2012. But its bill included $10 million more than the Senate for missing and exploited children programs ($70 million) and $28 million more for mentoring ($83 million).

U.S. House of Representatives

House Approps May Gut Spending on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

The House subcommittee that oversees Justice Department funding produced an appropriations bill this week that would slash activities authorized by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in 2012. The draft bill, marked up by the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State (CJS), would not fund demonstration grants, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) or Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants. In 2010, the last year Congress actually passed an appropriations package, those three streams totaled $231 million. The bill would also drop state formula grants – given to states on the condition that they adhere to basic standards in regard to the detainment of juveniles, and address racial disparities in the system – from $75 million in 2010 to $40 million. The full appropriations committee will vote on the proposed funding levels for Justice on Wednesday, July 13, according to a memo published by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice on its website.

Senate Passes Bill Stripping Confirmation Requirement for Juvenile Justice Positions

This article originally appeared on YouthToday.org. The Senate passed by a 79-20 margin today the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, which would remove the Senate confirmation requirement for hundreds of executive branch positions, including two of the top federal jobs related to child welfare and juvenile justice. S. 679 was never referred out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The bill was introduced in late March by a bipartisan group of senators and blessed with the support of both Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Chief among the youth-related positions affected by the bill are Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), an agency within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice, and Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), which is part of the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Supreme Court Gives Juveniles Protection in Police Interrogations

[This article was reprinted with permission from YouthToday]

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 5-4 decision that said a police officer must take a child’s age into consideration when determining whether to issue a Miranda warning to a juvenile suspect. The case, J.D.B.v. North Carolina is the latest in a string of cases in which the high court has applied protection to certain groups of juveniles. The court banned the juvenile death penalty in the 2005 Roper v. Simmons case, and last year ruled in Graham v. Florida that life without parole sentences were unconstitutional for juveniles convicted of any crime other than homicide. “This represents the court’s settled commitment to its view that kids are different,” said Marsha Levick, deputy director and co-founder of the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center. “It’s just a further shoring up of that direction they’ve been moving in for last several years.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority, said, “So long as the child’s age was known to the officer, or would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer,” law enforcement and the courts must factor age into a decision to give a Miranda warning to a juvenile suspect.