This story is part of a series on public health and firearms. The first examined groups working to reduce homicide in Birmingham. The second interviewed Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin about his office’s peace initiative. The third examined a proposed voluntary “do not sell” list for Alabamians suffering mental illness, which aims to prevent firearm access for people with suicidal ideation.
Monday marks the first day of the 2012 session of the Georgia General Assembly and while many bills will be considered and debated on the floor of the state Capitol, for those interested in juvenile justice, one piece of legislation gets all of the attention. The juvenile code rewrite, in the form of two separate bills, SB 127 in the state Senate and HB 641 in the House, was reintroduced last year, working its way through various committees and stakeholder meetings. This year, advocates are guardedly optimistic the code rewrite, officially known as the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, will pass the Legislature and land on Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for a signature. “That’s our objective,” said Voices for Georgia’s Children Executive Director Pat Willis. “We have great support from the sponsors and committees where the tough work gets done.”
But, there is still work to be done, says Julia Neighbors, JUSTGeorgia Project Manager at Voices for Georgia’s Children and a lead on the code rewrite.
Martin Castro, chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, while giving a talk recently in Lawrenceville, Ga., made a little joke. He said one in six Americans is a Latino — he paused and then added that the other five out of six Americans soon will be related to that one. He is correct. Your neighbors and co-workers today will likely become your in-laws tomorrow. Hence, I, and lots of others folks, would argue that any political group that angers the Latino community does so at its own peril.
Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation in New York City gives an excellent overview of how youth courts work in this video interview with Leonard Witt of the JJIE.org. They are completely teen driven with teens as judges, attorneys and juries who hear actual cases either referred by the police or the courts. Each teen judge, attorney or juror gets 30-hours of training and has to pass a “bar exam” to be able to serve. In the youth courts Berman’s center helps oversee, the kids running the courts come from a variety of backgrounds, so the offenders are being judged by their real peers. In fact, kids who once came before the court often come back later to serve as judges, attorneys and jurors, so Berman says it can be “a life changing experience.”
Kids sent to the court have already admitted guilt and are at the mercy of their peers to design the sanctions that will be administered.
The clock is ticking for supporters of Georgia’s long-awaited juvenile code rewrite. Crossover day — the critical mid-point in the legislative session, when Senate bills move over to the House of Representatives and House bills transition to the Senate — is now a little less than a week away. So far Senate Bill 127, also known as the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, has not yet made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) and if it does not do so before that critical deadline, it won’t be able to advance any further during this legislative session. That would be a major blow for supporters who have been involved in the rewrite process since 2004. The committee was scheduled to discuss the measure at a hearing Wednesday.
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.