Katie's Blog

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Juvenile Delinquency Rates in America

Juvenile Delinquency
Coming into contact with the juvenile justice system can have a lasting impact on a person's life. Once arrested and placed into a detention center, the likelihood of it occurring again exponentially increases. In most cases, young people who get into trouble with the law are better served by alternatives to incarceration.

Reducing recidivism among young Americans must be a chief priority in the U.S. Our adult prisons are overcrowded thanks to the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of nonviolent offenders. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws have not helped either; although efforts have been made to roll back draconian sentencing laws in recent years.

Many people currently serving time in adult jails and prisons had interactions with the juvenile justice system. It stands to reason that doing a better job rehabilitating young people could prevent scenarios like that from happening.

The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is an organization dedicated to rehabilitating youths and prevent recidivism. The organization writes:

"We work to ensure more humane and rehabilitative prevention and treatment for all children who come in contact with the juvenile justice system, especially children of color who historically have been disproportionately impacted." 

To stop the criminalization of children and ensure justice for all youth, the CDF calls for: more federal resources for youth justice reform, closing youth prisons and investing in restorative, community-based solutions, and putting an end to solitary confinement for children.

New Report on Juvenile Delinquency Rates


Researchers at Frontpoint Security analyzed data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to find the number of arrests made per 100,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 17, Patch reports. They sought to determine which states had the highest and lowest youth delinquency rates. For instance, California ranked 37th overall.

The research only looked at two types of crime: juvenile larceny (stealing without threatening anyone) and juvenile robbery (stealing by force or threat). In 2017, there were 73 juvenile robbery arrests and 264 juvenile larceny arrests in California, according to the article. Over 300 arrests may seem like a lot until you look at Maryland and Louisiana.

Maryland had 205 juvenile robbery arrests in 2017, the highest rate in the country. The data indicate that Louisiana topped the chart for juvenile larceny arrests with 1,173. Maryland came in first for the highest juvenile theft rates, and Louisiana came in second. West Virginia had the lowest teenage arrest rate.

Fortunately, there is evidence that juvenile delinquency is on the decline. Organizations like the CDF are helping to make even more significant reductions a reality. Frontpoint Security writes:

"... there's hope for children and teens who have committed crimes—rehab programs that take a therapeutic approach can help them reverse course, and juvenile justice advocates work hard to give them a second chance."

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


If your son or daughter has been arrested for larceny or robbery, then please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh is a former prosecutor which means she has a unique understanding of both sides of the courtroom. She can help your family find a favorable outcome to this unfortunate situation.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Senate Bill 419 Signed Into Law

SB 419
While it might be hard for some people to fathom elementary school students being suspended for not cooperating in class, it’s a common occurrence in California. Each year, thousands of kids are removed from the classroom for what is known as disruption and willful defiance. We have written about this subject on numerous occasions.

On this blog, we have also covered some of the potential consequences of class removals at a young age. Whenever a student isn’t in class, they are at significant risk of getting into more trouble. The school-to-prison pipeline starts with suspension and expulsion.

In recent years, several lawmakers have worked tirelessly to enact laws that would protect young and vulnerable students. Statistics show that minorities and youths with disabilities are suspended and expelled at far higher rates than their white peers.

The ultimate goal is to ban school suspensions for “defiant and disruptive behavior” in grades K-12. However, the effort has been met with significant pushback, forcing lawmakers to amend their legislative proposals to cater to the wishes of the opposition.

One bill that we have discussed frequently is Senate Bill 419. It is already against the law to suspend K-3 students for defiant and disruptive behavior; SB 419 would expand on that to include grades 4 through 8.

Governor Newsom Signs Senate Bill 419


On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 419, The Sacramento Bee reports. Effective July 1, 2020, SB 419 ends the practice of willful defiance suspensions in grades four and five. The same is true in grades six through eight but only for a five-year provisional period.

The author of the bill, Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said that SB 419 would “keep kids in school where they belong and where teachers and counselors can help them thrive.” She added that the bill “may be one of the best ways to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Naturally, the signing of SB 419 was lauded by civil rights activists, including Dolores Huerta. The labor leader, civil rights activist, and awardee of the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom said:

“I strongly believe that SB 419 will bring justice to California youth by eliminating suspensions for disruption and defiance, putting an end to discriminatory discipline policies and instituting restorative justice practices.” 

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California School Discipline Attorney


Please reach out to The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation if your child is facing expulsion from school. Attorney Walsh has extensive experience in these matters and can negotiate with your child’s school district. Mrs. Walsh can also represent your family at the school expulsion hearing. She will advocate for your child and fight for alternatives to expulsion.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

ACLU Lawsuit Ends YAT Program

YAT Program
Last summer, we wrote about the Riverside County Youth Accountability Team Program (YAT) and how it treated teens, never convicted of crimes, as criminals. The program was designed to scare kids, mostly black and Latinos, straight. However, all the initiative did was contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. Kids whose only infractions were a failure to cooperate with school faculty members found themselves on probation.

As we pointed out last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Northern California, San Diego, and the National Center for Youth Law filed a lawsuit to end the YAT program. In July, the ACLU announced that their efforts paid off; a settlement was reached with the federal district court that severs the relationship between Riverside County school districts and the probation department.

The YAT program has been in place since 2001; thousands of young people have been needlessly affected and had their rights violated since its inception. Probation is not an effective way to address the needs of children who have bad grades or struggle with trauma and mental health issues. The proposed settlement will hopefully lead to kids getting much-needed resources.

Setting an Example for the Nation


Even though research shows that juvenile probation is ineffective and even harmful to young people, that was the model for the last 18 years. Youths who were unable to stay on track in school found themselves in the criminal justice system.

The ACLU was able to show the court that the YAT program subjected kids to lengthy lists of conditions with zero-tolerance consequences. Young people in the program were regularly drug tested and had to deal with surprise searches of their home and person.

Rather than diverting students to law enforcement for non-criminal offenses like truancy and defiance, they will now receive counseling and other school and community-based supports. The ACLU writes that the county has committed reinvesting millions of dollars in community organizations that will better serve young people than the criminal justice system.

Students who commit crimes will be guaranteed the right to legal representation throughout the entirety of diversion. They will no longer be subject to rules and restrictions that violate their rights. What’s more, probation officers will undergo specialized training to ensure they comply with the new protocols.

The ACLU hopes that Riverside County’s new approach will one day serve as a model for juvenile justice nationwide.

Orange County, CA Juvenile Criminal Attorney


If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges or a school expulsion hearing in California, then The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help. Attorney Walsh has the experience and knowledge to advocate for your family effectively. Please contact us today to learn more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Suspension and Expulsion, in Preschool

suspension and expulsion
Kicking young people out of school for misbehaving is nothing new, but it is an issue that requires consideration. The science tells us that removing kids, of all ages, from classrooms for minor infractions can start them on a path toward further problems. The school-to-prison pipeline begins with suspension and expulsion.

While most people associate class removals with high school students, it’s also a common occurrence at middle schools, elementary, and preschools. If you find it hard to believe that preschoolers could do anything so severe as to warrant suspension or expulsion, then you are not alone. However, the practice is far more common than you’d probably think.

A 2016 federal study found that an estimated 50,000 preschoolers had been suspended in the previous year, according to the Center for American Progress. Moreover, some 17,000 preschoolers were expelled during the same period. That is 250 youngsters who were being removed from the classroom each day.

Actions have been taken by lawmakers and school officials to end the practice of suspending and expelling the youngest Americans in recent years. California has banned suspending children in grades K-3 for disrupting or willful defiance. Lawmakers have passed legislation that would expand the existing law to include students up to 8th grade. Unfortunately, many young children residing in other states do not have the same protections.

Suspension and Expulsion in Preschool


Even in states that have protections for young people, that encourage schools to intervene rather than expel, a significant number of kids are falling through the cracks. NBC News reports that children under five are being suspended and expelled from preschool, even though they live in cities and states that have acted to prevent such occurrences.

A study conducted in 2005 shows that preschoolers are three times more likely to be expelled. The numbers are even more severe when looking at young people of color and those with disabilities. Another study shows that kids who are removed from classrooms are ten times more likely to drop out of high school. They are at more significant risk of being arrested too.

Laws prohibiting the suspension and expulsion of young people are a step in the right direction. However, not enough is being done to train teachers and fund intervention programs, according to the article. Cemeré James, senior vice president of policy for the National Black Child Development Institute, said:

“When you institute a ban and just a ban with no funds and no support for implementation, you in my opinion are basically doing nothing. If there’s no funding to train teachers and educators to engage with young children in new and different ways, then you’re not changing anything.” 

Teachers must be taught effective techniques for supporting young people. Acting out in class is often a sign that a child is having problems at home or is struggling with emotional and cognitive issues. California has more resources than the vast majority of states and can provide resources to preschools, the article reports. Mental health professionals work with educators to help them better meet the needs of challenging students. 

Orange County School Expulsion Attorney


Attorney Katie Walsh has extensive experience in school discipline matters. If your son or daughter is facing the prospect of expulsion, then it helps to have a representative who can advocate for your loved one’s well-being. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh to learn how we can help you negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

California CROWN Act Addresses Hairstyle Discrimination

CROWN Act
Research suggests that corporate and academic grooming policies unfairly impact black women in the workplace. Dove and the Crown Coalition, a group of beauty industry leaders, civil rights activists and legislators, sponsored a survey to learn more about discrimination relating to hairstyles. 

The survey shows that black women receive formal grooming policies at a rate significantly higher than White women, according to Diverse. Black women also reported they were 80 percent more likely to change their natural hair to meet social or employment expectations.

An earlier study from 2016, conducted by Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, discovered that black girls were disciplined in the state's public schools because of their natural hairstyles. Meaning that black girls are often threatened with suspension and expulsion because schools contend that the student's hair is a disruption.

The authors of the Ohio study write that the disturbing trend "is deeply connected to long-standing Westernized notions of beauty…yet again, this highlights the ways in which black girls are penalized for their incongruity with 'traditional' White notions of womanhood."

California’s CROWN Act


Hairstyles of black people are a part of their heritage; and it's hard to believe that young girls and women are punished for their natural hair in the 21st Century. In an attempt to reduce instances of discrimination in California, lawmakers passed the CROWN Act (“Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair”).

The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair or Senate Bill 188 is meant to combat discrimination based on hairstyles. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on July 3.

The law prohibits employers from enforcing purportedly "race-neutral" grooming policies. The legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Holly Mitchell, who also wears her hair in locs. An author of the Ohio study titled "Race Matters . . . And So Does Gender," Robin A. Wright from the University of Cincinnati, says:

"I actually hear it more from young men, particularly, but also women, that they believe they have to cut off their dreads in order to get a job in corporate America." She adds that "It's ridiculous that we need a law like this in 2019, but our kids and [other] folks are still being discriminated against." 

California is at the top of the list of progressive states, so it makes sense that it is the first state to pass this type of legislation. However, New York approved a similar bill earlier this year, which protects black people's right to wear natural hairstyles.

Many nonprofits support the CROWN Act, and state and national organizations, including the California Employment Lawyers Association, California School Board Association, and the California Teachers Association. According to RadioFacts: "SB 188 will ensure protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Education Code."

California School Discipline Attorney


Please contact The Law Office of Katie Walsh if your child is being discriminated against because of their hairstyle, and may be facing suspension or expulsion. Attorney Walsh has the experience to advocate for your loved one effectively.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Restorative Justice Funding in California

restorative justice
Restorative justice is on the minds of educators in California who seek to reduce student suspensions and expulsions. The goal is to keep youths in the classroom whenever it is possible to do so—the days of removing kids from class for disruption and defiance seem to be largely a thing of the past.

Many large school districts up and down the state have histories of disproportionately suspending and expelling minorities and youths with learning disabilities. The data reveals that such demographics are removed from class at exponentially higher rates than their white counterparts.

Several legislative reforms have led educators to adopt new approaches to dealing with students who act up or get in trouble. Programs were established in the Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego Unified School Districts that utilize alternatives to traditional methods of school discipline.

In 2006, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) became the first to implement a restorative justice program, EdSource reports. Restorative justice coordinators and facilitators work with teachers and students to resolve conflicts in a manner that does not involve removing children from school. The program has served as a model for other school districts across the country and other countries.

Naturally, programs like the one in Oakland and others cost a significant amount of money to facilitate. Recent budget cuts may undermine the effectiveness of Oakland's restorative justice program or jeopardize it altogether.

Funding Restorative Justice


"In recent years, OUSD has made significant strides in changing the prevailing paradigm of punishment and exclusion in response to real or perceived student misconduct," states a report from the Executive Office of the President - December 2016. "These gains reflect deep structural changes at both the district and school site level resulting from more positive, restorative and trauma-informed responses to student behavior."

The OUSD program's future was put in jeopardy due to the school district's proposed budget cuts announced earlier this year. Fortunately, the program's achievements have not gone unnoticed, and the city and private backers have stepped lend support. State data shows that suspensions fell in Oakland by 48 percent between the 2011-12 and 2017-18 school years.

The city of Oakland issued a one-time $690,000 grant to fund the program for the 2019-20 school year, according to the article. Various foundations and philanthropists have also contributed to the effort.

There are no guarantees the program will be funded in the future, says David Yusem, Oakland Unified's restorative justice coordinator. He adds that "We need to make adjustments based on the current fiscal reality." Yusem points out that the program may need to be altered to compensate for funding cuts.

"We are just beginning to have those meetings," Yusem said. "We're taking stock and sort of going from there in terms of where are our priorities and how we can hit them while having less money."

It's likely that Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts will face similar challenges in the coming years.

California School Discipline Attorney


If your child is facing difficulties at school and is at risk of expulsion, then please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh. Juvenile Defense attorney Walsh can represent your child in many ways and advocate for the needs of your family.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reducing Suspension and Expulsion Rates

suspension expulsion
At high schools across America, suspension and expulsion should only be a last resort. Young people who act up in class or break school policies are often dealing with problems at home. They may also be contending with emotional and mental health problems that inhibit their ability to stay focused.

When school districts remove children from the classroom, it can put teens on a path toward more significant problems in the future. No longer receiving support from educators, suspended and expelled youths are at considerable risk of engaging in activities that can land them in handcuffs. Student's removals are the beginning of the school-to-prison pipeline.

School districts that take measures to keep youths in class have an opportunity to affect change. Helping students understand why their behavior is problematic, and what they can do to cope with their feelings, is essential. When young people are given the tools to respond to situations in healthy ways, they are less likely to get into more trouble down the road.

Many U.S. schools are moving away from resorting to using punitive disciplinary actions. Research shows that student bodies benefit from providing support programs. Providing teenagers access to counselors and psychologists is a step towards reducing problems in the classroom. The data indicates that intervention programs are more effective at encouraging adolescents to change their behavior than removing them from class.

Intervention Programs Reduce Suspension and Expulsion Rates


The Antelope Valley Union High School District in northern Los Angeles County has taken steps in reducing class removals. In the last decade, the district’s suspension rate fell 47%, and the expulsion rate dropped 79%, according to the Antelope Valley Press. Educators were able to achieve this feat by implementing intervention programs.

Instead of resorting to suspension and expulsion, schools attempt to address the unique needs of students first. When a teenage boy or girl gets in trouble, the AVUHSD relies on a discipline matrix to help determine what level of intervention is warranted. The district had student support centers, and four social workers were hired to work with at-risk youths.

Youths who are directed to AVUHSD support centers, work with counselors, psychologists, and social workers. They have opportunities to discuss what is happening outside of school; they can learn coping mechanisms that are less disruptive to the class. The goal is to help at-risk teens learn from their mistakes and excel.

“When a student has to be removed from class they are placed in an environment where their social and emotional needs are met,” said a district official said. “The goal is addressing it and getting them back in the classroom.” 

Support centers have paid off; from 2017-18 to 2018-19, suspensions decreased 13% and expulsions 31%.

Orange County Juvenile Attorney


If your son or daughter is in trouble at school, and facing a school expulsion hearing, The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help. It is vital to have an attorney who can advocate for your family. Juvenile defender Katie Walsh as a school expulsion lawyer has handled thousands of cases and may be able to negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

Please contact our office today for a free consultation. Call Today 714 · 619 · 9355