Clayton County, Ga. Juvenile Probation Officer Ronaldi Rollins

An Inside Look at a Typical Day on the Street with a Clayton County Juvenile Probation Officer

Ronaldi Rollins’ view from his corner office on the third floor is typical of metro Atlanta. A parking lot, some two-story apartment building, all nestled in the middle of a bunch of pine trees. Welcome to Jonesboro, Ga., command central for one juvenile probation officer in charge of 20 struggling teens. To pay a visit to Rollins, a kid has to make it past two levels of security. First, the metal detector and officer at the front door.

Clayton County Breaks Ground On New Juvenile Justice Center

Within a year, what is now a mound of red Georgia clay will be home to the new Clayton County Youth Development & Justice Center. County leaders officially broke ground Thursday on the 65,000 square foot facility that bears a $15 million dollar price tag. It’s set to be completed within 12 months. The facility, south of Atlanta, which will be built adjacent to the existing Harold R. Banke Justice Center on Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro, will house Clayton County Juvenile and community resource organizations. “Every other metropolitan county [in Georgia] has gotten another juvenile justice center: DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Douglas and now it’s Clayton County’s turn,” says Clayton’s Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court Van Banke, who is set to retire in two weeks.

Child Advocates React To AG Holder’s Juvenile Justice Reform Call

Local child advocates are reacting favorably to United States Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent comments about the dire need for major juvenile justice system reform. In remarks to the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, Holder called for the Department of Justice to adopt a new approach that combines evidence-based research and comprehensive community partnerships. Holder also said that it’s time for us to ask some important questions such as; why is it that African-American youth make up 16 percent of the overall youth population, but comprise more than half of the juvenile population arrested for committing a violent crime?  Why is it that abused and neglected children are 11 times more likely than their non-abused and non-neglected peers to be arrested for criminal behavior?   And why is that so many of those who enter our juvenile justice system either can’t afford – or do not know to ask for – access to legal guidance?

Judge Steve Teske: The Blame Game – The Winner Loses and The Kids are Hurt

It was 1999, I was recently appointed to the juvenile bench, and we had a new presiding judge. A meeting was called to discuss the direction of the court.   Among several issues, we were concerned about the number of complaints filed by School Resource Officers (SRO) and decided to meet with the Chief of Police to discuss other alternatives to filing complaints.  We were prepared for the meeting. We had data reflecting an increase in referrals by over 1,000 percent since the inception of the SRO program in the mid nineties.  The data was broken down by offenses and most were misdemeanors primarily involving school fights, disorderly conduct, and disrupting public school.

Judge Steve Teske: The Road to Jericho

I met him after only a few weeks on the bench.  His name was Johnny and he was thirteen. He had been detained for disorderly conduct and disruption of school charges.  He mouthed off at a teacher using what we call in the legal arena “abusive, profane, and opprobrious” words. In other words, he said “F— you.”

Johnny was of average stature for his age. He didn’t smile, but then again who does while shackled sitting in a courtroom? I was new at this and still trying to get a grasp on this judging thing.

Judge Steve Teske: Making Adults Mad – When Did That Become a Crime?

Looking back 40 years and recalling the blood flowing profusely from my mouth, I now understand why my Mom frowned every time I asked her for a Daisy BB gun. I often think of this moment, and several others in my childhood, when sitting on the bench or deciding diversion and informal adjustment policies for the court. I look back and I am convinced that adolescents are wired to do stupid things, and I did plenty of stupid things as a teenager – but I was never arrested or referred to juvenile court. Why is it that most of the cases referred to my court are kids who make us mad, the kids who were never arrested or referred in my day, and not the kids who scare us?  I was ten years old and I was relentless about a BB gun.

Judge Steve Teske: The Silent Majority

A young boy is ripped from his family.  As he is placed in the back of a stranger’s car, he looks out the back window and sees his mom crying and his dad in the back of a police car.  He doesn’t understand. He is scared. He can’t stop crying. 

A young teenager is running the streets and getting into trouble.  He is stealing and getting into fights to survive.  He knows he is ready to kill if he has to. A young man was neglected and sexually abused as a child.  He sees no purpose in life. Death, at times, seems more inviting than life.