Katie's Blog

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act

In 1974, Congress passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). Lawmakers wrote the bill to address some of the glaring inconsistencies in approaches to juvenile justice from one state to the next.

Most Americans are unaware that there are more than 56 different juvenile justice systems in the U.S. Each of which is independently operated, and there were no federal standards for care before the JJDPA. Sadly, Congress hasn't reauthorized the legislation since 2002.

It was beginning to look like 2018 is the year that lawmakers were going to see past their differences and reauthorize the law, but child advocates are no longer sure. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has spent the last four years championing the bill, which gave much hope; however, as Grassley prepares to step down from chairmanship his focus is now on a different criminal justice reform bill, The Huffington Post reports. Before lawmakers break for the holidays, the First Step Act is in the spotlight.

What is the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

The JJDPA, according to ACT4 Juvenile Justice, creates a federal-state partnership for the administration of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention by providing:
  • Juvenile justice planning and advisory system, establishing State Advisory Groups (SAGs), spanning all states, territories and the District of Columbia;
  • Federal funding for delinquency prevention and improvements in state and local juvenile justice programs; and
  • Operation of a federal agency (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)) dedicated to training, technical assistance, model programs, and research and evaluation, to support state and local efforts.

Reauthorizing the JJDPA

Supporters of the JJDPA in Congress are just one vote away from achieving the goal of reauthorization, according to the article. The hang-up rests on two senators disagreeing over whether the JJDPA should be reauthorized together with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says that reauthorizing the acts together would reduce Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funding by 23 percent and would fail to protect trafficked youths; Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) sees the matter differently.

“Sen. Grassley has the power of persuasion,” said Sarah Bryer, the president and executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “[He] has the ability to talk to his peers in the Senate and get them to agree to stand down on their issues and stand up for young people.”

Now, it seems that Sen. Grassley has pivoted attention away from juvenile justice and is instead working to enact criminal justice reform. The First Step Act centers around prison reform, reducing sentences, and rehabilitation.

“At this point, he is spending all of his political clout on the First Step Act,” said Rachel Marshall, the federal policy counsel for Campaign for Youth Justice. “And while criminal justice reform is extraordinarily important, it’s not an either/or, in my view.”

We will continue to follow this story as it develops; if the bill doesn't receive authorization by the time the session ends, lawmakers will have to start over next year. Hopefully, Grassley will manage to resolve the dispute before the end of his tenure.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

If your child is facing legal challenges or school expulsion, please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh's extensive experience in the field of juvenile justice makes her the perfect candidate to advocate for your family. Call now for a free, confidential consultation, (714) 619-9355.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

School Suspension Rate Disparities: San Diego

school suspension
Last week, the State of California released school suspension data and takeaways are, at best, concerning. At The Law Offices of Katie Walsh school suspension and expulsion is a topic of vital importance; much of the work we do is representing juveniles who have had problems in the classroom. We follow the data carefully to serve our clients better; we have covered the topic of student suspensions on our blog on numerous occasions, please click here for further reading.

It will probably come as little surprise for some to discover that there are glaring disparities in school suspension and expulsion rates in the ‘Golden State.’ For others, what follows may come as a shock. While suspension rates in San Diego County are down from 4.5 percent in 2011-2012 to 2.8 percent for 2017-2018, minorities and foster children are at a much higher risk of being barred from attending class, The San Diego Tribune reports. Overall, black students in San Diego County are more than two times as likely to face suspension. What’s more, foster kids are nearly five times more likely to get suspended from school.

“The very students who do need that additional time and supports, like foster youth, are the ones who are being sent out of the classroom,” said Carrie Hahnel, interim co-executive director of Ed Trust-West.

Disparities In Suspension Rates

The trend researchers are witnessing is not unique to California; one need look no further than the United States Government Accountability Office’s report on K–12 education to find evidence. Across the country, school discipline disparities for black students and young people with disabilities is alarming. Here in California, more than 15,000 students in San Diego County were suspended at least once, according to the article.

Even though suspension involves older students more often, about 1,500 students of the overall tally were in grades K–3. While African American students make up only 5 percent of those attending class in San Diego County, they make-up 7% of suspensions for students suspended at least once in the school year. The California Department of Education tracks suspension rates across the state, the data for San Diego County is as follows:
  • Foster Youth: 13.5 percent
  • African-American: 6.9 percent
  • Disabled Students: 5.7 percent
  • Homeless: 5.5 percent
  • Socioeconomically Disadvantaged: 3.8 percent
  • Hispanic or Latino: 3.2 percent
  • English Learners: 2.8 percent
  • White: 2.1 percent
  • Asian: 1 percent
“Studies we reviewed suggest that implicit bias — stereotypes or unconscious associations about people — on the part of teachers and staff may cause them to judge students' behaviors differently based on the students’ race and sex,” the GAO writes.

School suspension data is of the utmost importance for several reasons, most notably, the impact missing class can have on a student’s life trajectory. Those who miss school are at far higher risk of dropping out, getting in more severe forms of trouble, and ending up in jail or prison. Supporting students rather than relying on suspension and expulsion as the go-to form of discipline, isn’t just right for the student, it’s good for society.

Orange County Juvenile Defense

A minor infraction in school can have a lasting effect on a person’s life. If your child is facing expulsion, then we implore you to contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh will work tirelessly to safeguard your child’s rights and negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

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 C├írdenas (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. C├írdenas 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.