Katie's Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Law and Leadership Academy in Riverside County

Law and Leadership Academy
Keeping young people away from the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice system is of the utmost importance. People who get into trouble with the law at a young age are at significant risk of having run-ins in the future. Young people – more often than not – do not understand that their choices can have a lasting impact on the course of their life. Education is one of the most effective ways of deterring young people from making risky decisions and helping them stay on track.

Across the country and in California, there exist outreach programs designed to enlighten young people about what can happen if they break the law, i.e., expulsion, probation, and juvenile detention. However, the people who run such programs often use fear tactics to keep young people on the straight and narrow. But, as any parent knows, adolescents are stubborn and will usually do the exact opposite of what they are told. It’s likely that many of you have heard or read about “Scared Straight.”

The 'Scared Straight' program targets juvenile delinquents or children at risk for criminal behavior and brings them to see the inside of a prison, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The goal is that when young people understand what life is like on the “inside,” they will be deterred from future offenses. However, there is a large body of research that calls into question the efficacy of scaring children into obedience and compliance.

Law and Leadership Academy


Toward the end of July, prosecutors working within the Riverside District Attorney’s Crime Prevention Unit held a 5-day program to raise awareness about what happens within the criminal justice system, Desert Sun reports. The Law and Leadership Academy, created by Amy McKenzie in 2016, takes a different approach than Scared Straight to prevent youth crime. Instead of singling out kids who are at risk of trouble, school counselors choose students who will participate in the program because they have expressed an interest in law enforcement. McKenzie believes crime prevention can be achieved through education and community outreach.

“Community outreach and crime prevention go hand-in-hand. We feel the more transparent our office is to the community and the more we get our message out there helps deter crime,” said McKenzie. 

The Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that the felony arrest rate for youth ages 10-17 was 271 per 100,000 in Riverside County in 2016. The Department of Juvenile Justice reports that within three-years, 74 percent of youth arrested in California are rearrested.

Prosecutors Mike Tripp and Hawlee Valente say that the academy is about more than getting young people excited about careers in the field of criminal justice. The goal is that participants will share their newfound wisdom with their peers back in school.

“Our hope is that they act as little ambassadors. Because not everyone gets to do this; there are adults who never get to see the inner-workings of the criminal justice system. They take this back to their school and back to their family and they get a completely different view,” Tripp said.

Juvenile Defense Attorney


Please contact The Law Offices Katie Walsh if your son or daughter is facing legal troubles. Attorney Walsh has extensive experience if the field of juvenile justice and will advocate for your family to achieve the best possible outcome.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Youth Correctional Facility Computer Programing

juvenile inmates
People who serve time in California correctional facilities, whether they be adult or juvenile, often learn all the wrong lessons from their cellmates. It is not uncommon for people convicted of crimes to get out of jail and go on to commit more severe offenses. Of course, learning about new ways to break the law is not everyone’s lot; some people use the opportunity of confinement to learn from their mistakes and reinvent themselves.

Men and women who do time have a high likelihood of recidivism. It makes sense; people often break the law because they haven’t the resources to get ahead in life. Such individuals learn how to make some extra cash nefariously from their peers; they also learn how to comport themselves on the street—even using violence when necessary. Learned behaviors can have a lasting impact on young people’s lives, and they often lead to going in and out of jail over-and-over again. However, if juvenile inmates are provided with educational resources, they have an opportunity to break the cycle of incarceration.

In fact, 14 inmates at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo are taking the opportunity to learn valuable skills that may keep them off the streets and into stable employment, USA Today reports. What’s more, the young people’s instruction is coming from an unlikely place, a group of inmates serving time at San Quentin.

Re-coding Life


A novel program, which pairs three prisoners at San Quentin who learned how to write computer code with young men and women at the Camarillo facility, could open doors previously thought shut. The 14 students are taught over Skype how to write JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, a couple of times per month, according to the article. If the program is a success, it will mean that the students have an opportunity of landing good jobs in the tech sector upon their release.

Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti created the Last Mile coding program, two people familiar with the tech industry, the article reports. Chuck Supple, director of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice, was impressed by the Last Mile and took steps to incorporate into the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility. The Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo could soon accommodate 48 students and actions are underway to introduce the program at other youth detention centers.

Frankie Guzman, director of the California Youth Justice Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law, says that young people serving time are mostly taught skills for low-paying jobs. Educating young people in exciting fields can go a long way to reduce recidivism rates. According to Chuck Pattillo, general manager of the California Prison Industry Authority, inmates participating in joint venture programs, like the Last Mile, have a recidivism rate of 9 percent. Of the inmates not involved, 46 percent will return to prison after release.

"This is not welfare or charity or rewarding bad behavior," said Guzman, an attorney. He adds that investing in these young people, "we are doing ourselves and our communities a favor."

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges, it is critical that you partner with an experienced attorney competent in the workings of the juvenile legal system. Seeking the assistance of attorney Katie Walsh gives your child the most favorable odds for avoiding juvenile detention. Please contact our office to learn more about how we can advocate for your family.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

California's Board of Education Approves ESSA

ESSA
This month, California’s Board of Education approved a final version of its state accountability plan known as the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA. The law, passed in 2015, governs the United States K–12 public education policy. The LA School Report points out that ESSA requires each state had to determine a method of evaluating schools that did not focus on academics. While most states are relying on chronic absenteeism as an indicator of student success, California is instead looking at suspension rates as well as the college and career indicator.

“California has the most ambitious plan in the nation to give additional resources to students with the greatest needs as we prepare all students for college and 21st century careers,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. “The ESSA plan approved today will support those efforts.”

It took some time to get there, 18 months of hearings, but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approved the California plan, leaving only New York yet to receive approval. California, through ESSA, should be getting about $2.6 billion this year in funding through ESSA, according to EdSource.


How Will California Use the Funding?


  • About $1.8 billion goes to low-income students.
  • $128 million to migrant children under Title I.
  • About $230 million go towards training and recruiting teachers and school leaders under Title II.
  • About $6 million could go toward training principals on new academic standards.
  • About $150 million is for language instruction under Title III.
  • About $180 million goes toward academic enrichment, after-school programs, and improving school climate, under Title IV.

“California is a national leader in supporting students with extra needs, providing local control over spending, encouraging community participation in schools, and releasing critical information on measures that indicate student success,” said California State Board of Education President, Michael W. Kirst. “Our ESSA plan allows that work to continue.”


Orange County School Expulsion Hearings


If your son or daughter is facing a school expulsion hearing in California, please reach out to The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. We can help you navigate the school discipline process and advocate for your child, safeguarding their rights. Attorney Walsh has extensive experience in the juvenile court system.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SB 439: Keeping Children from Juvenile Justice

SB 439
Last summer, we discussed several bills being considered by the California State Senate, including Senate Bill 439 (SB-439). As is the case with most legislation we focus on, SB 439 centers on juvenile justice, explicitly keeping most youngsters under the age of 12 out of courtrooms and into alternative programs for discipline.

SB 439 made it through the Senate, and if the bill makes its way to the Governor’s desk, it would mean two significant changes for California counties with regard to the handling of children ages 11 and under. First, minors whose behavior and actions are cause for concern by authorities must be released to his or her parent, guardian, or caregiver; except, if the crime involves an act of murder or rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm. Secondly, the bill requires counties to “develop a process for determining the least restrictive responses that may be used instead of, or in addition to, the release of the minor to his or her parent, guardian, or caregiver."

Researchers at UCLA analyzed California Department of Justice data and found that only a small number of kids under twelve find their way into the clutches of the juvenile justice system, according to Press-Telegram. The analysis showed that eighty-five percent of the 452 referrals of 11-year-olds to the courts were closed or diverted from the system at the beginning of the cases. However, for the slight number of kids that are not so fortunate, the juvenile justice system can mark the start of more problems in life.


Strong Opposition to SB 439


“The vast majority of young children in California who’ve been accused of an offense are exhibiting behaviors or minor behaviors that did not require any justice involvement,” said State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), the bill’s co-sponsor. “Involvement with the juvenile justice system can be harmful to a child’s health and development.”

Sen. Mitchell’s views are not shared by law enforcement organization throughout the state and are pushing back hard trying to encourage those who are considering the legislation to bar its moving forward, the article reports. Last month, The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reached out to the committee stating that the juvenile justice system is the only way to rehabilitate children and keep the public safe. Tamar Tokat from the L.A. County District Attorney’s office says there is “no alternative” to serious criminal cases involving children. Most of the bill's opponents cite troubling cases involving the most extreme of offenses to make their point; the California District Attorneys Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the Chief Probation Officers of California are among those opposing SB 439’s passing.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops. As an aside, if you are on the lookout for some summer reading material, The Evolution of the Juvenile Court: Race, Politics, and the Criminalizing of Juvenile Justice by Barry C. Feld might be the book for you.

“As a juvenile court jurist of almost 20 years, a reformer for most of those years and an adjunct law professor, I can adamantly state that this book is not only a must read, but should be added to the reading lists of those studying juvenile justice, including law students,” writes Judge Steven Teske on the Juvenile Justice Information exchange.


Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help your son or daughter who is facing criminal charges or school expulsion. Our team of legal experts will advocate for your child and assist them in achieving the most favorable outcome in their case. Please contact us today.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

ACLU Addresses Youth Accountability Team

Youth Accountability Team Program
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Northern California, San Diego, and the National Center for Youth Law are suing over the unfair practices used by the Riverside County Youth Accountability Team Program (YAT). According to the ACLU, YAT was created in 2001 to target at-risk youths for intervention. On the surface, such a program appears to be relatively benign; however, the tactics deployed treat adolescents who have not been convicted of crimes as criminals. The idea is that teens who seem to be on the edge of engaging in nefarious deeds can be scared straight.

The organization points out that programs like YAT do not have the intended effect on young people, and often do more harm to a child than good. The program is not a diversion; it is a facet of the Riverside County’s probation department. Youngsters who act up or have low marks in class are singled out and forced into six-month terms of probation. The ACLU contends that YAT is unconstitutional; kids who have committed no misdeeds are made to waive their First and Fourth Amendment rights, and subject to “invasive probation conditions.” Sarah Hinger, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program and Sylvia Torres-GuillĂ©n, Director of Education Equity, ACLU Foundations of California, write that:

“Children and their families are not provided with specific information about the offense they are accused of committing, the terms of YAT probation, the possible consequences of going to court, or advisement of their legal rights.”

Counseling, Instead of Probation



The ACLU states that YAT is the product of an outdated “incorrigibility” law; students are subject to prosecution for merely not complying with school faculty. Kids who may have learning disabilities or problems at home which impact their ability to do well in school are needlessly being funneled into the juvenile justice system. The organization says the practice disproportionately affects Black and Latino children throughout the county.

A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that youths are more responsive to positive incentives and supports than threats of punishment. Instead of putting guilt-free kids on probation, the ACLU would like to focus on supporting struggling children by way of counseling.

“The constitutional deficiencies of Riverside’s YAT Program are clear, and the program will continue to violate children’s rights until it is reformed. But reforming the program will not only protect their rights, it presents an opportunity to provide a model for bringing juvenile probation and diversion in line with contemporary research on adolescent development.”

Treating young people as criminals before they ever commit a crime increases the likelihood of problems developing down the road. There is already plenty of research to support diversion over detention for juveniles; so, it is not challenging to see how counseling would be more beneficial than probation for kids struggling in school. More times than not, the farther kids are from the juvenile justice system, the better!

Orange County Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney


Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh if your child is facing criminal charges or school expulsion. Attorney Walsh and her team of legal professionals can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your son or daughter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Beyond Senate Bill 190: Financial Relief for All Families

Senate Bill 190
Just over a year ago we covered a subject that is of particular importance to adolescents caught in the juvenile justice system and their families, Senate Bill 190 (SB-190). At the time, the piece of legislation which, if passed, would prohibit the collection of fees in the juvenile-justice system across the state, was before the California state legislature. In the time since the bill was approved and signed by California Governor Jerry Brown.

Fines and court fees can add up quickly even when the offense in question is relatively minor. Given that most young people do not have a source of income sans what they get from their mother and/or father, the costs of young people breaking the law tend to become the burden of parents. What’s more, debt generated from the past transgressions in one’s youth, don’t disappear upon release; some families continue to chip away at debt long after their son or daughter earn his or her freedom.

Since January 1, 2018, counties across the state have put a stop to collecting juvenile court fees per SB-190; yet, families throughout California are still whittling away at debts accrued before the law came to fruition. San Mateo County Board Supervisor David Canepa, along with former juvenile offender Daniel Casillas, are tirelessly working to end the collection of any juvenile justice fees still owed to the county, The San Mateo Daily Journal reports. Daniel Casillas, who was released from detention just before he turned 18 about four years ago, now serves on the county’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission.


Beyond Senate Bill 190



The passing of Senate Bill 190 brought with it a massive relief for thousands of California families moving forward, yet it did not do much for those who already paid their physical debt to society but still owe financially. Since the age of 13, Casillas (21) was arrested more than 20 times for non-serious offenses and a series of probation violations. The arrests and detentions that followed generated incarceration and legal representation fees, according to the article. Years after his release, Daniel’s family are still paying the county.

“Their number one reason for moving here was to provide their kids a better opportunity,” Casillas said. “I think they’ve kind of had to delay their hopes and work extra hard because of financial burden, because of my own adolescence.” 

Supervisor Canepa introduced a juvenile court fee write-off for families like the Casillas. If the proposal is approved, it will afford relief to more than 6,000 families owing collectively around $12.6 million.

“When it comes to criminal justice, when you do the crime you have to pay the time,” said Canepa. “But when you pay the time, you shouldn’t be saddled as a juvenile with the debt for the rest of your life.”


Juvenile Defense Attorney


The Law Offices of Katie Walsh specialize in juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges or school expulsion, Attorney Walsh can advocate for you and your family in several ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Keeping Foster Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System

juvenile justice
The new California state budget allocates $4 million toward preventing the unnecessary arrests of foster children, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The move from lawmakers came about after the newspaper exposed a severe issue regarding the handling foster kids who act up.

Historically, when foster children staying in one of the many California shelters caused a ruckus, supervisors would call the authorities. A minor infraction could quickly land a child in a juvenile detention facility for assault and vandalism; the practice starts a vicious cycle of young people going in-and-out of the juvenile justice system, and then the adult criminal justice system later in life.

It is vital to remember that the majority of youngsters in foster care have had complicated lives. Such youngsters have been witness to all-the-wrong-things from a very young age; ostensibly, they are not equipped to handle challenging situations in a healthy manner. One could argue that acting up is expected among young people whose early life is comprised of one traumatic event after another. Fortunately, there are ways of disciplining children that don't involve detention; utilizing such methods could teach adolescents valuable life lessons and coping skills.

De-Escalation and Adolescent Development Training


The $4 million will be used for:
  • Foster youth support services,
  • De-escalation training, and
  • Adolescent development training for law enforcement and staff at residential facilities.
This week, legislation is expected to pass that would order California children’s shelters and group homes to only call law enforcement in an emergency, according to the article. Such facilities should rely on other forms of intervention before turning to the police as a means of disciplining a child. Maria Ramiu, a senior staff attorney with the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, says the new law encouraging shelters and group homes to rely on law enforcement less, would be a significant “change in philosophy.”

Assembly Bill (AB) 2043, introduced by state Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D), curbs over-reliance on law enforcement to solve foster care behavioral concerns, The Chronicle of Social Change reports. The bill also helps foster kids reach out for help when they find themselves in unsafe situations in foster homes by creating a statewide hotline for foster youth and their caregivers to contact a mobile crisis-team at any time.

“We want [foster youth and caregivers] to feel supported, to have access to immediate support in their homes,” said Diana Boyer, senior policy analyst for the County Welfare Directors Association of California. “We’re bringing the services to them, as opposed to them going to services.” 

A mobile crisis team with training in how to address the concerns of young people, many of which have mental health problems, could significantly reduce the need to rely on law enforcement. Mental health, and young people acting out because of such conditions, is not a problem that can be arrested away.

Juvenile Defense Attorney


The Law Offices of Katie Walsh specialize in juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges or school expulsion, Attorney Walsh can advocate for you and your family in several ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.