Girl in hooded jacket with crowd of robots behind her

Juvenile Systems Need to Listen to, Trust Young People

The supposedly immaculate stone walls feel as if they are about to close in on me. I wait on court date after court date for a woman of privilege to apply a sentence or provide a “safe” placement for me. This woman asks questions every time I am dragged into that room by the shackles and cuffs that bind my voiceless frame.

Los Angeles to Vote Feb. 22 on Ending $250 Truancy Fines

This story was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity

In a policy debate watched nationally, the city of Los Angeles came closer Monday to getting rid of most — but not all — controversial monetary fines for students who are tardy or truant from school. For several years, students in Los Angeles have complained about hefty $250-plus fines for being tardy, and about police officers who staked out schools to catch students sometimes only minutes late. The ticketing also requires students to go to court, with parents, during school hours, so they miss more class time and parents miss work. On Monday, the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee voted to set limits on how police enforce the city’s 1995 daytime curfew law and to stop imposing the $250 fines, which, once fees and court costs are added on, can rise to $400 or more for one violation. The curfew amendments — if they get full city council approval on Feb.

Legal Representation Required in Pennsylvania Juvenile Courts, Says State’s High Court

Juveniles appearing in delinquency proceedings in Pennsylvania will be required to have legal representation following an amendment to the commonwealth’s Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. The change, effective March 1, follows the “kids for cash” scandal in Luzerne County, Pa. in which juvenile court judge Mark Ciavarella took kickbacks from the builder of two for-profit youth detention centers and routinely denied juveniles in his court their right to an attorney. The new rules say youth under the age of 14 must have an attorney present at all delinquency proceedings and children 14 years of age or older may only waive their right to counsel in very limited circumstances. Even then, the court must be satisfied the waiver was made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily.

Judge Who Beat Daughter Says He Did Nothing Wrong

A Texas judge who was caught on video beating his daughter says he was simply disciplining his then 17-year-old. “In my mind, I haven’t done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing,” Judge William Adams told a Corpus Christi television station. “And I did lose my temper, but I’ve since apologized.” The video of Adams, 51, appeared on the Internet after the daughter, Hillary Adams, uploaded it. Hillary Adams, now 23, told the Associated Press that she has since had mixed feelings about making the video public.

Pennsylvania Juvenile Judge is Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison

A Pennsylvania juvenile court judge was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison for accepting some $1 million in bribes from a builder of two juvenile detention centers. Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr., 61, was convicted earlier of racketeering in a scheme where he sent juveniles as young as 10 to the detention facilities. Ciavarella apologized to the court before the sentence, but denied he incarcerated any juveniles in return for money. The federal prosecution in the case, however, referred to Ciavarella repeatedly during the trial as the “kids for cash” judge, describing him as “vicious and mean spirited.”

After the sentencing, Sandy Fonzo, the mother of Edward Kenzakoski III, who committed suicide years after being sent to detention by Ciavarella, told the Scranton Times-Tribune ,“I believe it was just. I believe it was right.”

The case prompted Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to reverse out some 4,000 convictions of juveniles that were handed down by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008.

Can You Sue a 4 year old? Yes, You Can.

The New York Supreme court has redefined the legal age of accountability. This comes from an October 1, 2010 ruling from Justice Paul Wooten who determined that it is possible for a 4 year old to be negligent. As a result, there is a negligence suit against a 4 year old child. The details are laid out in the New York Times,

Two years ago Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, both four at the time, were racing their bicycles on a sidewalk. The bicycles had training wheels. Juliet ran into an 87 year-old woman, resulting in a hip fracture that required surgery. Three weeks later, the woman died.