Katie's Blog

Thursday, February 14, 2019

California Juvenile Detention Centers Using Pepper Spray

juvenile detention
Pepper spray, like mace, is a non-lethal form of restraint that law enforcement agents utilize on a regular basis. The ingredients result in inflammation of the eyes and lungs, causing temporary vision loss and shortness of breath. Once disabled, officers are better able to restrain subjects. While the agent is less-than-lethal, there are instances when the chemical agent is a contributing factor in premature death.

In California, juvenile detention facility guidelines permit staffers to use pepper spray or oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, only as a last resort to de-escalate difficult situations, Los Angeles Daily News reports. However, a new report from the Los Angeles County’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) finds that officers are relying on pepper spray to subdue juveniles at an alarming rate, often using the lachrymatory agent unnecessarily.

The report was conducted at the behest of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board). The call for an investigation came after revelations brought to light last year that incidents involving oleoresin capsicum spray in juvenile detention facilities skyrocketed more than 150 percent from 2015 to 2017. The OIG report cites instances of juveniles being subjected to OC and are then left in their rooms without assistance, forced to rely on toilet water to clean/remove the oleoresin capsicum from their skin and eyes.

Initial or Intermediary Force Option

According to the report, thirty-five states have banned the use of OC spray in juvenile facilities. California is just one of six states that allow the use of pepper spray on youths housed in detention centers. Such facilities include Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, Central Juvenile Hall, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Camp Ellison Onizuka, and Camp Ronald McNair. There are California counties that prohibit juvenile detention officers from deploying OC, encouraging the use of other de-escalation techniques instead, i.e., San Francisco County, Santa Cruz County, Marin County, and Santa Clara County.

The OIG report underscores the need for more de-escalation training, especially in Los Angeles County. Cathleen Beltz, assistant inspector general, said the goal is to reduce or eliminate the use of OC within LA County’s juvenile facilities. The investigators found consistent use of OC spray as an “initial or intermediary force option, rather than as one that follows a failure to de-escalate or the use of less significant force.”

“The fundamental issue here is not about the tools that staff use,” said Terri McDonald, LA County chief probation officer. “The question is, how can we create a culture or environment in which force is a rarity?” 

McDonald adds that the department will not tolerate “unnecessary or excessive force in our facilities…A single case of abuse of our youth is one too many.” The chief probation officer is not opposed to doing away with the use of OC, “But a change of this magnitude will require thoughtful analysis, planning, training, and potentially increased resources to ensure institutional safety.”

California Juvenile Defense Attorney

As a former juvenile prosecutor, attorney Katie Walsh has the experience and understanding of the law to advocate for your son or daughter who is facing legal trouble. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation and to learn how she will use her expertise to defend and achieve a favorable outcome for your loved one.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

New Laws Affecting California Juveniles

school expulsion
School suspension and expulsion rates is a topic of significant concern in the United States. The data tells us that when young people are excluded from participating in class, due to behavioral issues, they are at severe risk of facing problems later in life. Evidence shows that discipline inside the classroom, as well as outside the classroom, can have lasting impacts on children.

Teachers have incredibly challenging jobs. On average, they have to keep as many as 30 young people in line for hours at a time and to ensure that they learn the skills to move forward. Having just one disruptive student in the classroom can affect the experience of all other students. In the past, the standard protocol would be to separate unruly students from the well-behaved. Continued infractions often result in suspension and/or expulsion for severe cases.

Here in California, a number of laws have been passed in recent years to help put an end to the school-to-prison pipeline. SB 439 establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court. SB 1391 makes it unlawful to try youths under the age of 16 as an adult.

In 2014, a law was enacted to ban the suspension of students in grades K-3 for acts of “disruption and defiance.” Last year, California Senator Nancy Skinner attempted to get Senate Bill 607 signed by Governor Jerry Brown, which would have expanded the 2014 law up to eighth grade. Unfortunately, Governor Brown did not go along with the expansion, but it is likely that the effort to end disruption and defiance suspensions will continue.

Positive New Laws Affecting Young People In California

While former Gov. Brown did not get on board with SB 607, he did sign Assembly Bill 752. The legislation prohibits state-funded preschools from expelling students, Voice of OC report. This year, preschoolers can be expelled, only after all other alternatives to support the children or family have been exhausted.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2698 is another piece of legislation of note; it increases access to critical early childhood mental health consultation services for infants and toddlers. The bill puts more mental health consultants into publicly funded preschools and child care centers.

 “As a teacher of 30 years in Orange County, I was able to gain profound insight into the importance of meeting the needs of our young children and their families. Improving services to support early childhood education will always remain a priority,” said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva.

California Juvenile Justice Attorney

Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh if your child is facing a school expulsion hearing in California. Attorney Walsh is a former prosecutor who is familiar with the juvenile court system. Our team can answer your school expulsion questions and advocate for your family.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

California Juvenile Justice May Be Overseen by Cal. HHS

juvenile justice
Published research tells us that the brains of young people are not fully developed. Meaning, partially, youths are at risk of making life-changing decisions without fully grasping what can result. Many criminal and juvenile justice advocates claim that the current method of handling teenagers who break the law is woefully inappropriate. Moreover, many voters in California tend to agree.

In recent years, spanning back to the early 2000s, juvenile justice in the Golden State has been undergoing several shake-ups. Laws have been passed to shift away from punitive measures and embrace rehabilitation for most infractions. Just over a decade ago there were 11 state-run juvenile justice detention facilities; today, there are only four centers housing only young people with the most severe charges, the Los Angeles Times reports. All other youth offenders are either on probation or housed in county juvenile halls.

In 2017, then Governor Jerry Brown signed Proposition 57 which, among other things, prohibits prosecutors from charging youths in adult court without a judge's consent. What’s more, Brown signed legislation to lighten punishments; the goal is to get young people off a path to adult prison. In 2019, with a new Governor at the helm of California legislation, more juvenile justice reforms are on the horizon.

HHS Could Take Control of California’s Juvenile Justice Division

Health and human services providers could soon take over control of overseeing California’s nearly 700 young offenders, if Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan comes to fruition, according to the article. These juveniles and young adults have remarkable legal records; and, many of them contend with severe mental and medical health needs. The majority of the more than 660 offenders are confined to detention camps in Pine Grove, Stockton, and Camarillo.

“This is about setting a new mark,” said Gov. Newsom. “We are committed about ending the juvenile justice system as we know it once and for all.”

Under the proposed plan, the California Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) are tasked with better preparing young people for release through a combination of educational, mental health, and social services, the article reports. With Legislature approval, Gov. Newsom hopes to make the handover from corrections officials to the HHS as early as July. The move to HHS from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would put California closer in line with most others states.

California is currently one of the ten states whose juvenile justice division falls under a state corrections agency; 40 states operate like what Gov. Newsom is proposing. California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris says the new model will help address early childhood trauma and prevent young people from having run-ins with the law. 

“Really looking at what we can do for our young folks who are most vulnerable is really critical,” said Dr. Harris.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we will continue to follow this story as it develops in the coming months. Juvenile defense attorney Katie Walsh is committed to helping young people, and their loved ones overcome legal trouble. Please contact us today to learn more about how Attorney Walsh can advocate for your family.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

New Minor Driving Privileges and Interlock Device Laws

Driving Under The Influence
Driving under the influence is a severe offense in the State of California, even when nobody is injured. Those who are convicted of a DUI often pay enormous fines and are required to serve some jail time and lose their license for varying lengths of time. Each case is different, and punishments may look different from one county to the next.

While DUI laws change from time to time, one trend has held true, and that is the repercussions for intoxicated driving seem only to get more severe. This is especially the case for individuals who get more than one DUI citation in less than ten years. Such people face lengthy stays in jail and hefty fines that are sure to make an impression on any person’s wallet.

In recent years, the use of ignition interlock devices or IIDs has become standard in many states, including California. In 2019, Californians should understand that some legal changes are affecting both minors and adults who operate motor vehicles. Two laws, in particular, are worth noting.

Minor Driving Privileges and Ignition Interlock Devices

The New Year brought with it changes to rules regarding the use of ignition interlock devices. Such instruments prevent someone from operating a motor vehicle if they have alcohol in their system; the device also saves information regarding attempts to start a car while intoxicated which could lead to new problems for said motorists. Senate Bill 1046 extended an IID pilot program through January 1, 2026, to the entire state. The pilot program previously was only in force in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Tulare counties. The law also mandates repeat DUI offenders and some first offenders (DUIs resulting in injury), to install an IID in their car for between12 to 48 months. The California Department of Motor Vehicles writes that:

This law also allows those who receive a suspension under the Administrative Per Se law to obtain an IID-restricted driving privilege, and receive credit toward their required IID restriction period if they are later convicted of a DUI. These provisions apply to DUI violations that involve alcohol or the combined use of alcohol and drugs. They do not apply to drug-only violations. Additionally, courts have the discretion to order a non-injury first DUI offender to install an IID for a period of up to 6 months. If the court does not order IID installation, a non-injury first offender may apply for a driver license for IID restrictions or restrictions that allow them to drive to, from, and during their employment and to and from a DUI treatment program for 12 months. 

While .08 is the legal limit for adult drivers, California has a “Zero Tolerance” Underage DUI Law. People below the legal age to drink caught behind the wheel will face charges.

Another law affecting Californians starting in 2019 pertains to the driving privileges of minors. Assembly Bill 2685 repealed Section 13202.7 of the Vehicle Code, a rule allowing juvenile courts to suspend, restrict or delay the issuance of a driver license of habitual truants or ward of the state for up to one year. Truancy no longer affects driving privileges, but the DMV makes clear that any suspensions or delays reported before January 1, 2019, remain in effect.

Orange County DUI Attorney

One aspect of DUIs that most first-time offenders are unaware of is the DMV component of the offense. Intoxicated driving is a crime that is handled in the courts. However, the right to drive is managed by the DMV. There is a separate DMV hearing that DUI recipients have a right to, and it is essential that DUI defendants hire an attorney who understands the DMV portion of a drunk driving case.

If you or your minor child is facing charges for driving under the influence, please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh has the expertise to help you navigate the process and to help bring about a favorable outcome.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Parole and Probation Social Media Restrictions

While the U.S. Supreme Court deems access to social media platforms protected by the First Amendment, that doesn’t mean that some people can’t be restricted. A California state appeals court ruled that a “narrowly tailored” limit on social media use for a juvenile on probation was legal, NextGov reports. When reviewing the case in question, AA v. The People, the court of appeals wrote in summary:

One of the goals of the juvenile law is reformation and rehabilitation of the minor’s attitude so that he respects the rights of others. Here, appellant seems to think that his felonious conduct is a springboard for braggadocio on the internet. Appellant has First Amendment freedom of speech rights. But the juvenile court may curtail such rights in an appropriate case by a narrowly tailored condition of probation. This is an appropriate case.

The U.S. Supreme Court has called social media platforms the new public square, protected by the 1st Amendment; however, the terms of an individual’s probation or parole can restrict access to such platforms for rehabilitation purposes and to protect victims.

The Right to Access Social Media

The Supreme Court ruling in Packingham v. North Carolina, that social media use was protected, involved a North Carolina law that made sex offenders having any social media presence at all a felony, according to the article. In AA v. The People, the juvenile was only restricted from posting about his offense during his probation.

Conditional release typically comes with restrictions on freedom. Social media use is a right to people under normal circumstances, but not when a person is a ward of the state. What a person does and how they communicate with others can, as seen in the above case, restrict the use of social media which is liable to make any young person upset and in said case appeal.

Orange County Juvenile Justice

Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation if your son or daughter requires legal assistance. Attorney Walsh and her team can advocate from your family and help you obtain the best possible outcome.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

School Safety Commission Report: Response

At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we would like to draw your attention to the California School Dashboard. The California School Dashboard is the place where parents, families, students, and teachers can see how well our schools and students are doing and where improvement is warranted. Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject.

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, discusses the Dashboard in an issued statement regarding the report of the federal School Safety Commission. In Torlakson’s statement, he makes clear that the recommendations of the commission (put together in response to the Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School shooting) are made in error.

Disciplining Students in a Proportionate, Fair Manner

California School Dashboard
“I am extremely disappointed that the School Safety Commission report contains a misguided recommendation to eliminate a policy that has nothing to do with the continuing tragedy of school shootings—the quest for disciplining students in a proportionate, fair manner,” states Torlakson.

He adds, “I strongly oppose this recommendation and the Department of Education’s reported plans to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance encouraging schools to work to reduce the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for students of color and students with disabilities that are found throughout our nation …. California encourages districts to reduce or eliminate disparities in discipline given out to student groups. The California School Dashboard reveals the suspension rates of all student groups, supplying the data needed to take action to ensure equity for all students.”

The superintendent’s statement points out that the School Safety Commission's report had little to say about gun control. A military-style assault weapon was used in the killing of 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneham Douglas. It is unclear, at this time, why the School Safety Commission believes eliminating policies which make school discipline fairer will make the student body safer.

Juvenile Defense Attorney

Hiring an Orange County school expulsion lawyer can help your child achieve a favorable outcome in a school expulsion hearing. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation with juvenile defender Katie Walsh and her team. Call 714.619.9355 or submit a confidential inquiry now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Supporting Juvenile Justice Reform

juvenile justice
The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) a non-profit law firm based in Oakland, California, helps low-income children and aims to transform the multiple public systems serving vulnerable children. The organization leads campaigns to reform education, child welfare, public health, behavioral health, juvenile justice, and workforce development.

In the realm of juvenile justice, the NCYL’s noteworthy success includes Breed v. Jones (1975) and the Texas Decriminalization of Truancy (2014), according to their website. Regarding the former, the organization successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court “that the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy is applicable to minors in delinquency proceedings.” The Texas Decriminalization of Truancy ended the practice of sending truant children to adult criminal court. 

The NYCL has worked for more than four decades to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people across the country. The non-profit continues to advocate for the rights and safety of children and teenagers, and thanks to a hefty donation their efforts can continue.

Google and SF 49ers Support Youth Justice Reform

Earlier in December, Google and the San Francisco 49er football team donated $2.35 million to the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), according to The Chronicles of Social Change. The funds will give the NCYL the ability to work with more than 300 youth per year in Santa Clara County – who are either arrested or placed on probation – as part of the California Youth Justice Initiative.

“We’re doing a comprehensive approach of deep-end and shallow-end reform, and then we’re also working with probation-involved youth to make sure they graduate, get a job or get on a good career track,” said Frankie Guzman, director of the California Youth Justice Initiative. 

The NYCL’s California Youth Justice Initiative advances policies and practices rooted in positive youth development, the organization reports. The goals of the initiative include:
  • Empowering formerly incarcerated youth and their families to advocate for change.
  • Providing legal and strategic support to community organizations working to improve local policies and practice.
  • Advocating for community-based services that address youth’s social-emotional health needs as an alternative to incarceration.
“Once you get in the system it’s very difficult to make it out,” said Richard Sherman, a defensive back with 49ers. “It’s very difficult to learn what you need to do to be in the workforce, to be a great person because you spend so much time trying to survive the situations you’re put in.”

California Juvenile Law

Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh to find out more about how we can advocate for your family. If your child is in trouble and was arrested, it is likely that you would like the assistance of an attorney with a proven record in the area of juvenile law. Attorney Walsh can help your family obtain the best results.