Katie's Blog

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,” Iv├ín 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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Juveniles With Cognitive Deficiencies Held for Years

People who are charged with a crime have the right to stand trial, in a timely manner. Amendment VI of the U.S. Constitution - Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions – states that:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. 

If an adult is deemed incompetent to stand trial for a crime by a judge, owing to their cognitive deficiencies or mental fitness, they are held for a set period to bring them up to speed on how the courts work. The goal, improve a plaintiff's general understanding of how the courts operate and to enhance their cognitive functioning—with the hope that one day they will be fit to stand before the courts. When it comes to minors in California, however, there is currently no cap on how long they can be detained for the above purposes, Mother Jones reports. The result, kids with cognitive deficiencies, end up in custody for months or years; they are not confined to their home or hospitals, more times than not they are housed in juvenile detention facilities.

“Because there’s no other place to house them, we end up with these minors in juvenile hall,” says Jim Salio, president of the Chief Probation Officers of California. “They really should be in some other place.”

Assembly Bill 1214


Ab 1214In California, existing law requires court proceedings be suspended if substantial evidence raises a doubt as to the minor’s competency to stand trial. At which time, the court is to order that the minor’s competence be determined at a hearing, and the court is to appoint an expert to decide if a child’s incompetence stems from a mental disorder, developmental disability, developmental immaturity, or other condition. As was mentioned above, this process can go on indefinitely; Salio says that some teens are held two or three years, without trial.

Lawmakers in Sacramento are considering AB 1214, authored by California Assemblymember Mark Stone, that limits the length of time a child can be held after being deemed unfit to stand trial, according to the article. As written, the bill’s passing would mean that the majority of kids could be detained six months while receiving instructions on how the courts work. Those accused of specific violent crimes could be held for 18 months. The bill also calls for laying out and improving the services relied on for educating young people.

California Juvenile Defense Attorney


Attorney Katie Walsh has extensive experience in the field of juvenile law, and she can advocate for your family to ensure your son or daughter obtains the best possible outcome for their case. Please contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation to hire, consultation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bill Addresses Juvenile Recidivism Rates

AB 1488
The California Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) reports that 70% of youth paroled from its institutions were re-arrested within two years. Recidivism rates of that magnitude are a severe cause of concern for many juvenile justice advocates and lawmakers, such as Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond).

In an attempt to mitigate the risk of re-offending, Assemblymember Thurmond worked with juveniles housed at Camp Wilmont Sweeney to create legislation that mandates counties to provide reentry services for youths upon release, according to a press release. The bill, which passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee, would lead to Juvenile Transition Centers in each county.

Many young people are struggling with conditions that are mostly out of their control; mental illness and substance use is often a leading cause of re-offense. According to the DJF, of the young people released from juvenile detention centers, approximately 70% are living with mental health disorders, and more than 80% have histories of substance abuse. Juvenile reentry services can help such individuals manage their conditions and have a future free from the justice system.

Assembly Bill 1488


AB 1488 requires counties to create a workgroup to discuss and assess what is necessary for building juvenile transition centers, and how to best support reentry programs, the press release reports. The workgroups would include community organizations, law enforcement, health officials, juveniles in detention, and their families. County reentry programs would provide housing and other critical services to young people leaving juvenile correctional facilities.

“Every child deserves a real opportunity at a second chance,” Thurmond said. “Too often, youth leave juvenile detention without a home or any support. Without access to reentry services, many youths will recidivate. This bill reverses that trend by creating a pathway for success for youth leaving the juvenile justice system. When counties work with service providers to ensure housing and other essential services for youth upon release from juvenile correctional facilities, we will see recidivism drop significantly.”

This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute, in order to prevent the cycle of recidivism.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney


Attorney Walsh has extensive experience in the Orange County Justice system, having worked with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for nine years. Today, Attorney Walsh specializes in juvenile defense and can help get the best possible outcome for your son or daughter's case. Contact Katie Walsh by calling (714) 619-9355.

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.