Katie's Blog

Friday, November 16, 2018

LA County Considers Expanding SB 439

juvenile justice
We covered an essential story about new juvenile justice legislation signed into law last month. In the 11th hour of Governor Jerry Brown's fourth term he signed Senate Bill 439 and Senate Bill 1391 into law, both measures will go into effect across the state next year. SB 439 establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, but a dispensation will be made for offenses such as murder or rape. SB 1391 makes it unlawful to try youths under the age of 16 as an adult.

While the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is busy coming up with a plan for serving children under age 12 who find themselves in trouble, the committee is hopeful that they can take an even more progressive step. Board members are considering banning many 12- and 13-year-old youths from juvenile delinquency court, The Chronicle for Social Change reports. The proposal is welcome news by juvenile justice advocates.

“L.A. County can lead the state of California further to ensure that children aren’t negatively impacted by the effects of arrest and incarceration on youth,” said Maria Brenes, executive director of the Boyle Heights-based nonprofit Inner City Struggle. “The impact of system involvement are dismal for our children. Youth are 39 percentage points less likely to finish public school than their peers after experiencing incarceration or detention.”

Implementing Juvenile Justice Reforms

A board motion, titled Setting a Minimum Age for Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Justice System, points out that there were just over 100 12-year olds and just over 350 13 year-olds arrested in the County last year. Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas write that SB 439 sets a floor, and they MOVE that the Board of Supervisors direct the Office of Diversion and Reentry’s (ODR’s) division on Youth Diversion and Development to report back in writing in 60 days with a status report and in 120 days with a comprehensive plan (Plan) to divert younger youth from juvenile court jurisdiction and detention by:

A. Authorizing the Director of ODR, or his designee, to hire a consultant with relevant expertise to support ODR in the development of the Plan.

B. Ensuring the Plan does the following:
  1. Build on the County’s current youth diversion and development efforts;
  2. At a minimum, comply with the recently passed Senate Bill 439;
  3. Include as a first priority a specific plan for the pending or active cases, over which the Juvenile Court is expected to lose jurisdiction in January 2019;
  4. Identify holistic programming and services for youth and families based on best practices, focused on positive youth development, that may be appropriate for younger youth;
  5. Consistent with the County’s current youth diversion plan, utilize “counsel and release” as the default in the vast majority of these cases and graduated responses thereafter, with Dependency Court jurisdiction to be a last resort; and
  6. Include recommendations regarding the minimum age for arrest and confinement of youth for Los Angeles County, including expanding on the requirements set by SB 439, based on a review of best practices, and relevant research.
The supervisors argue that, "the County has an opportunity, based on best practices and the efforts on youth development and diversion, along with the dual-status work it has already begun, to provide leadership to other counties across the State, and to reduce disparities in outcomes for young people based on geographical location, and racial and ethnic identity."

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

At The Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in advocating for the families whose children find themselves facing legal difficulty. What sets Attorney Walsh apart from other juvenile justice lawyers is the fact that she is familiar with both sides of the courtroom, having dealt with thousands of criminal and juvenile cases as a former prosecutor. She will use her experience to serve your family and help bring about the best possible outcome; please contact us today for a free consultation if your son or daughter requires assistance.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act

At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act
If you have been keeping up on the news related to the American opioid addiction epidemic plaguing the United States, then you are likely aware of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. The new legislation – recently signed into law by the current administration – aims to address several aspects of the public health crisis we face. The SUPPORT Act isn’t just one bill; it is instead a package of measures each specific to one point of the issue or another; seventy unique bills in total 

Some of the SUPPORT Act’s more notable features include channeling more funds to expand access to addiction treatment, prevent overprescribing, and training law enforcement to be more effective at intercepting fentanyl shipments. Other provisions involve improving care and support for substance-exposed babies and their mothers and expanding an existing program to train more first responders to carry and use the overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Those keeping themselves apprised of news relating to the epidemic know that there isn’t a demographic who has been untouched by the scourge of opioid use. Sadly, for a significant number of teenagers and young adults, many of whom come from dysfunctional homes, support is a scarce and they are in the grips of addiction. Moreover, like adults, young people face the risk of arrest and spending time in juvenile detention facilities.

The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act

Upon release from detention, young people often lack the support necessary to foster lasting recovery. Without assistance, the likelihood of recidivism is exceedingly high. What’s more, those same young people find that they have lost Medicaid as a result of their arrest and conviction, and no longer have a means of covering the cost of physical and mental healthcare professionals.

The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act, reintroduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), orders state Medicaid programs to suspend, not terminate, a juvenile’s coverage when he or she is in custody. Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) led an effort in the House of Representatives to include the bill in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, ensuring that children who serve time in the juvenile justice system continue to receive health care coverage and treatments during and after their release from custody. Cárdenas writes:

 “The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act will keep young American Medicaid recipients from being permanently kicked off their healthcare if they come into contact with the criminal justice system. Right now, these young people suffer greatly when they return home to find they can no longer see their doctor, especially if they are recovering from addiction. This law will end this practice, which will help the children, their families and the communities where they live.”

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

If your son or daughter is facing legal trouble in California, please reach out to The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Juvenile defense attorney Walsh has a proven record of advocating for families who find themselves in the hardest and most vulnerable situations. Call now for a free, confidential consultation, (714) 619-9355.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Gov. Brown Vetoes SB 607

SB 607
Last month, we covered Senate Bill 607, as it relates to juvenile justice in California. The bill – authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – would have expanded a bill signed into law in 2014 banning the suspension of students in grades K-3 for acts of “disruption and defiance.” Sen. Skinner's proposal had the expressed aim of changing the law to include students through the 8th grade.

Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 607, EdSource reports. While it was unclear if Brown would get on onboard, considering he was opposed to legislation in 2012 that would have banned such suspensions for grades K-12, he showed this month that he would not be swayed. Gov. Brown states that local control is his main reason for rejecting the bill, just as it was in 2012.

Senator Skinner sensed that Brown would come out against her measure much like the Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association. So, she wrote SB-607 to include K-8 rather than K-12, to get the support of the organizations above, hoping it would be enough for Brown as well.

“Teachers and principals are on the front lines of educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classrooms,” said Brown, in the veto message.

Civil Rights Advocates Are Not Surprised

Kids – as everyone knows – can be unruly; punitive measures are one way to teach young people the difference between right and wrong. However, there is a significant body of evidence suggesting that “disruption and defiance” suspensions affect students of color and those with disabilities, disproportionately.

A report from UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies shows that African-American middle-schoolers lost 71 days per 100 students, almost four times the number of days of class missed by their white classmates. When students miss class frequently, they are far more likely to get in other – more severe – types of trouble. Suspension and expulsion are often the catalysts of the school-to-prison pipeline. The California Department of Education CALPADS Data, 2016-17, shows that black and brown boys were 53.3% of disruption/defiance suspensions in the 2016-17 school year, despite making up only 30.7% of CA students.

Bills like SB-607 and its predecessor are meant to force the hand of educators to utilize disciplinary measures that did not take students out of class for minor infractions, before they resort to harsher courses of action. Despite being at odds with Gov. Brown’s decision, youth and civil rights advocates are not surprised, according to the article. Moreover, they are, in a word, disappointed!

“[Brown] has rejected an opportunity to transform school climate and address a racial injustice in our schools statewide,” said Angelica Salazar, director of education equity for Children’s Defense Fund, California. Senator Skinner has not committed to introducing a new bill next year.

Juvenile Defense in California

Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh if you require the assistance of an Orange County school expulsion lawyer. Attorney Walsh has overseen thousands of juvenile cases in California. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Katie Walsh can advocate for your family.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Restricting Juveniles' Visits With Attorneys

juvenile defense
The National Juvenile Defender Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) are two of several organizations taking issue with a blanket order by Judith Clark, presiding judge of Riverside’s Juvenile Court, The Los Angeles Time reports. The Riverside County judge is restricting youth in juvenile delinquency proceedings from engaging in one-on-one discussions with their lawyers at courthouses. Judge Clark argues that the Riverside County Probation Department has “insufficient resources” to provide personnel to supervise face-to-face courthouse visits.

“The purpose of this order … is to ensure that juvenile detainees have meaningful access to the courts while the court maintains the security and safety of all court users,” the order reads.

Blanket Order 30 means that juveniles have to discuss their cases with their attorneys in open court or a courthouse interview room, using phones and separated by a partition, according to the article. Juvenile defense attorneys can try to persuade a judge to grant private meetings.

Restricting Juveniles' Visits

“For now over 50 years the courts have recognized that kids in delinquency proceedings have a right to counsel and to effective assistance of counsel,” said Ian Kysel, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “The blanket order would prevent kids from meeting with their attorneys in the very context where they need the guidance of counsel the most.”

Rights organizations are not the only entities raising objections over the blanket order; defense attorneys argue that restrictions don’t take language barriers, disabilities, and mental illness into consideration. Mary Ann Scali, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center, points out that not many states have similar physical barrier restrictions on attorney/client meetings. Scali says that Judith Clark’s order makes Riverside an “outlier.”

“Effective communication requires contact visitation,” said Scali. “We know that when we are talking with young people it’s important that we have eye contact, that being in their physical presence and space is important in terms of trust. It’s also critically important in terms of confidentiality.” 

County Judge Judith Clark revised and signed Blanket Order 30 on September 28, 2018, The Desert Sun reports. Clark says the order would not limit juvenile's access to an attorney; the revised order specifies that the court "shall accommodate" contact visits on the day of hearings at either the courthouse or the juvenile detention center next door and such contact will require a judge's permission.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

Juvenile defense attorney, Katie Walsh, ensures that her clients' cases stand apart from the others and works tirelessly to obtain the best possible outcome. Attorney Walsh uses her experience to achieve results for her clients that impact their records the least. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Governor Signs Senate Bill 1391

SB 1391
Governor Jerry Brown signed two measures over the weekend relevant to juvenile justice in California, Senate Bill 439 and Senate Bill 1391. You may remember that we have covered both pieces of legislation at length in the last year; SB 1391 we wrote about as recently as last week when it was still uncertain that Brown would pen his name to the proposed bills.

On Sunday, Gov. Brown approved SB 439 which establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, unless the offense is murder or rape, The Sacramento Bee reports. He also gave SB 1391 his stamp of approval which eliminates the ability to try a defendant under the age of 16 as an adult, keeping more young people out of prison.

Juvenile justice reform is a cause championed by Sens. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, and Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. Both lawmakers have worked tirelessly in recent years to get SB 439 and SB 1391 to the Governor's desk, and succeeded. The measures go into effect next year.

“There is a fundamental principle at stake here: whether we want a society which at least attempts to reform the youngest offenders before consigning them to adult prisons where their likelihood of becoming a lifelong criminal is so much higher,” Brown wrote. He added, “My view is that we should continue to work toward a more just system that respects victims, protects public safety, holds youth accountable, and also seeks a path of redemption and reformation whenever possible.”

Cradle to Prison Pipeline

Please take a moment to watch a short video of Sen. Holly Mitchell, the coauthor of SB 1391, as she discusses the “cradle to prison pipeline:”

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

As was mentioned in previous posts, not everyone in California is in favor juvenile justice reforms that aim to emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration. Various law enforcement groups object to both measures, according to the article. However, advocates for SB 439 and SB 1391 argue that teens don’t fully understand the ramifications of their actions – the difference between right and wrong – owing to their brains not being fully developed; they contend that incarceration increases the risk of committing more crimes down the road and recidivism.

“Children are not pint-sized adults. Instead, they should be cared for with an emphasis on rehabilitation — not warehousing,” Mitchell said.

California Juvenile Defense

Attorney Katie Walsh has the experience to advocate for families whose children are facing legal trouble effectively. Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh require a juvenile defense lawyer in California. Attorney Walsh can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your son or daughter's case.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Controversial Senate Bill 1391 In Governor's Hands

SB 1391
In April, we discussed Senate Bill 1391. If signed into law, SB 1391 would amend Proposition 57, repealing the authority of a district attorney to make a motion to transfer a minor from juvenile court to a court of criminal jurisdiction in a case in which a minor is alleged to have committed a specified serious offense when he or she was 14 or 15 years of age.

While some juvenile justice advocates are in favor of legislation that prevents cognitively undeveloped people from standing trial in the adult criminal courts, the loved ones of victims of senseless crimes are not happy that killers may get out of jail one day and lead “normal” lives. To say SB 1391 is controversial may be an understatement; and, juvenile law experts contend that they can sympathize with arguments for and against the legislation, CBS Sacramento reports. Now, the fate of the bill falls on California Gov. Jerry Brown.

“It’s a symptom of the modern trend to believe that kids that are that young, of the age of 14 and 15 are probably not capable of really the kind of sophistication that would expect to be tried in criminal court,” said John Myers, professor, McGeorge School of Law. Myers adds that “There are some very sophisticated 14- and 15-year-old gangbangers out there that are cold-blooded killers, so I understand that if your child or loved one is killed by a gang member who happens to be 15 why you think it's wrong, it’s a sympathetic argument.”

Trying 15-Year-Olds As Adults

SB 1391 was introduced in April by state Sens. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). The bill is one of several new laws focused on rehabilitation over incarceration, and to reduce the overburdened criminal justice system.

“Research has debunked the myth that children are hardened criminals at age 14 and 15 and deserve punishment in the adult system,” Lara said in a news release. “In fact, 14- and 15-year-olds are far from being adults and Senate Bill 1391 keeps them in the juvenile justice system and guarantees they receive counseling and education, so they are less likely to commit crimes in the future.”

The bill is either a second chance for young offenders or a law that puts rehabilitation over public safety, and it is what Gov. Brown will have to wrestle with before the September 30th deadline. Please take a moment to watch a short video below:

If you are having trouble watching the video, please click here.

If passed, it purportedly would apply retroactively to certain cases involving minors tried as adults. We will continue to follow this important story as it develops.

Orange County Juvenile Justice Attorney

Please contact Attorney Katie Walsh if you need an experienced juvenile defense lawyer in California. Juvenile defense attorney Walsh can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your son or daughter's case.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Expanding School Disruption and Defiance Ban

Sb 607
In 2014, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a K-3 suspension ban for “disruption and defiance” infractions. Friday of last week, the California Legislature voted in favor of Senate Bill 607, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, to expand the ban to include suspensions through the 8th grade, EdSource reports. Sen. Skinner had initially hoped that the expansion would consist of all high-schoolers, as opposed to just K-8.

It remains unclear if Gov. Brown will get behind the bill and pen his name to the legislation; but, it’s worth noting that Brown vetoed a total K-12 “disruption and defiance” ban in 2012, only to later sign a less comprehensive ban in 2014. Brown’s previous opposition stems from his belief that state-mandated prohibitions interfere with local school district control. Local control is the cornerstone of his education policy, according to the article. The California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) supports expanding the ban. However, the California Charter Schools Association and the California Teachers Association have taken a neutral stance.

A Dramatic Drop In Suspensions

Initially, the ACSA was opposed to including higher grade levels into the suspension ban; then, the organization learned about how racial disparities continue to be the status quo for disruption and defiance suspensions throughout the state, the article reports. The ACLU of Southern California conducted an analysis of state data and found that African-American and Latino boys received more than half of the state’s disruption and defiance suspensions during the 2016-17 school year. It’s worth noting that Black and Latino children make up only 30.7 percent of all California students. 

“This wasn’t an easy decision for ACSA, but our folks are really concerned with the disparities in terms of how willful defiance suspensions are applied,” Iván Carrillo, a legislative advocate for the school administrators’ association, said. “Our membership takes a big issue with that and we want to continue to utilize other creative, research-based tools to deal with student behavior while at the same time protecting the classroom.”

When students are taken out of the class for slight infractions they are more likely to find themselves in additional trouble down the road, i.e., the school-to-prison pipeline. A more significant reliance on evidence-based restorative justice techniques could help the state for years to come.

“All the stakeholders are either supportive or neutral, which is great,” Skinner tells EdSource. “Now the question is does it meet the governor’s comfortability, which it should. The whole objective is to give kids the best chance at being successful — and kicking them out of school, even if it’s just for a few days, is not a recipe for success.” 

Several municipalities have already taken the initiative and instituted their own K-12 willful defiance suspension bans, in lieu of a statewide ban. We will just have to wait and see which way Gov. Brown goes on SB 607.

Orange County Juvenile Justice

If your son or daughter is at risk of school expulsion in California, please contact The Law Offices Katie Walsh at your earliest convenience. Attorney Walsh has extensive experience handling these types of cases and can advocate on behalf of your family to safeguard your child’s rights.