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”?

Teen Accused of Savannah’s First Murder in 2011

A teen has been charged with the first murder of 2011 in Savannah, Ga.  Trevonte Edwards, 16, is accused of killing 78-year-old John Green after stealing his wallet outside a convenience store where Green purchased a loaf of bread.  Edwards was denied bail in his first court appearance this morning. Edwards was found in a rooming house Tuesday with 9 others believed to have been involved in a rash of recent burglaries, according to the Savannah Morning News.