Home for the Holidays for Two Brothers, Part Two

Erin Dale, a probation officer in Cobb County, Georgia’s juvenile drug court, has never come across a kid who started using marijuna as young as Zach Dykes. “Seven years old,” Dale said. “Pre-teen, like 11 or 12, is the earliest I’d seen before Zach.”

Zach, 17, is currently in the Cobb County, Ga. Juvenile drug court program. Up until this April, the Hillgrove High School senior had smoked marijuana on and off – mostly on – since he was 7.

This is the Season of Redemption

Christmas is synonymous with redemption to me.  Christmas a few years ago expanded that belief to a higher level.  My 16-year-old son would not be joining us for Christmas for the second year in a row. He would be serving time in a federal juvenile correctional facility instead. In September of that year, he was charged with stealing a gun from a local pawn shop.  He was questioned for hours. He made the police mad, so he was arrested. My son did not act alone and law enforcement knew it.

Talking Back to Zero Tolerance

In the year that I have worked as a juvenile defender, I have noticed patterns in the types of cases that land on my desk.  For instance, now that the school year is in full swing, the overwhelming majority of my juvenile caseload arises from school discipline issues.  It seems — at least here in southeast Georgia — as though schools are either no longer interested or no longer equipped to handle discipline in-house. Almost every public school in my rural circuit has police presence in the form of the School Resource Officer (SRO), a uniformed police officer who maintains an office on the school campus.  These officers maintain such a vigilant school presence to deter criminal activity such as drug possession/sale, weapon possession and other violent or dangerous activity. The reality is quite different. Increasingly, local school administrators are relying on these SROs and a broad Georgia statute that criminalizes “disruption or interference with operation of public schools” to handle children with behavioral problems. What exactly are the definitions for “disruption” and “interference”?

Selena Teji On California’s Broken Juvenile Detention System

In 1858, the San Francisco Industrial School, California’s first large juvenile facility opened its doors and ushered in a new era of large dormitory-style institutions that would plague California to the present day.  Rife with scandal, abuse, violence and a significant deficit of programming, congregate care institutions have proven a failed model since the 19th century. While Missouri and Washington have abandoned this broken system and rebuilt their juvenile justice systems anew, focusing on smaller therapeutic regional facilities; California continues to fixate on an archaic system with large training schools that cannot be repaired. Currently, California operates a dual system of juvenile justice — probation, group homes, ranches and camps are provided by its 58 counties, while the state provides youth prisons reserved for adolescents who have committed a serious or violent offense as defined in the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code. All parole and reentry services are provided by the counties.

Incarcerated Louisiana Youth Overmedicated into Submission, Investigation Finds

Strong antipsychotic medications are being prescribed to incarcerated juveniles across Louisiana despite lacking diagnoses for the conditions they were designed to treat, according to an investigative report by New Orlean’s The Lens. The medications are meant to help with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. After examining their records, The Lens found 22 percent of medications prescribed in eight Louisiana facilities were designed to treat bipolar disorder. But, only five percent of diagnoses were of bipolar, the investigative news site found. No diagnoses of schizophrenia were made. The most common diagnosis (found in 20 percent of incarcerated juveniles) was “conduct disorder.

Florida County to Detain Kids in Adult Jail

Central Florida’s Polk County has become the first jurisdiction in that state to make plans under a new state law to house juveniles who are awaiting trial in adult jail rather than in a state juvenile detention center, according to NewsChief.com, a Winter Haven, Fla., news site. That change was made possible because Polk Sheriff Grady Judd pushed state Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, to sponsor a bill in this year’s Florida Legislature that loosens the standards county jails must meet to house juveniles. The state currently charges counties $237 per day to hold each juvenile in pretrial detention, and that rate is expected to rise later this year. Judd told NewsChief.com that the county expects to spend $70-$90 per day per juvenile detainee. He predicts the switch will save the county around $1.5 million.

Linda Wagner on the Juvenile Justice System: How Much are Evidence-Based Practices Worth?

Using evidence-based practices in the juvenile justice system reduces delinquency and avoids costs. Those of us in the field hear this regularly – but it can be hard to see their impact on a day-to-day basis. How do we know they work? Let’s start at the beginning. What we commonly refer to as “evidence-based practices” in the juvenile justice field are based on over 40 years of research regarding what works to reduce juvenile crime.

Judge Steven Teske on the Politics of Fear: Debunking the Superpredator Myth

The Second of a Three-Part Series by the Judge on the Subject of Trying Juveniles as Adults. I took the bench and asked if the parties were ready to proceed. “Yes, your Honor,” they all announced in unison. I looked up and saw a young man, 16 years old, trying hard to hold back his tears. His parents sitting to his left, his attorney to his right — his hands quivering.