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.

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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

California's Board of Education Approves ESSA

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

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

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


How Will California Use the Funding?


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

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


Orange County School Expulsion Hearings


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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SB 439: Keeping Children from Juvenile Justice

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

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

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


Strong Opposition to SB 439


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

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

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

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


Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Thursday, July 5, 2018

ACLU Addresses Youth Accountability Team

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

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

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

Counseling, Instead of Probation



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

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

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

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

Orange County Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Beyond Senate Bill 190: Financial Relief for All Families

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

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

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


Beyond Senate Bill 190



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

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

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

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


Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Keeping Foster Kids Out of the Juvenile Justice System

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

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

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

De-Escalation and Adolescent Development Training


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

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

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

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

Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

School-to-Prison Pipelines, Classroom Management, and Restorative Justice

restorative justice
Supervising children is not an easy task; managing a classroom of more than 30 adolescents is a monumental feat. It should go without saying that teaching is a profession that is at times both rewarding and thankless. Those who choose to go into the field do so because of a desire to help young people achieve their highest potential even though the classroom is usually the last place students want to be for more than 200 hundred days of the year. Those of us without the task of overseeing youngsters find it challenging to understand how teachers do it; we were all children once, so we know firsthand the patience-trying nature of teenagers.

Most adults can remember the handful of troublemakers they had to share classrooms with, those who made it a point to disrupt lesson plans day-in-and-day-out. It seems like the sole mission of some kids was to be the bane of the faculty's existence. Although, it is likely that few of us could grasp, at the time, why certain classmates acted out; we could not know that forces outside the classroom may have driven some youngsters to rebel.

Some people can probably remember instances of their school throwing in the towel with specific students, deciding that the best thing to be done was to suspend or expel a student; if asked, the school would justify removing a problem child as being a service to the rest of the class and the teacher. Dismissing a student might lessen distractions in classrooms, but it probably did nothing to help the student in question and potentially was a jumping off point to more severe problems. Those who are expelled from high school are far more likely to face the juvenile justice system.

While people most often associate violence and drugs with suspension and expulsion, up until not too long ago faculties could adduce “willful defiance” — virtually anything that disrupts a class — as a reason to expel or suspend students. Then, in 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 420, eliminating willful defiance as a cause for expulsion. Since that time, California school districts have had to focus on what was behind a student’s behavior, address the problem, and help a child change their ways.

Classroom Management


If a classroom is a ship of enlightenment, the teacher is the captain, which make the students the crew. Those teens who pay attention and do their work may one day grow up to oversee a team of employees, or maybe even become teachers him or herself. As with any voyage, the captain must be both stern and fair; and, perhaps more than anything else protect the mission from mutiny. One could argue that students prone to disrupting the class are, in a sense, mutineers; on the high seas the captain might throw the offender overboard, but in the California classroom of today that frankly isn’t an option anymore. It seems the only course of action is to ensure that the "classroom captain” can manage their students effectively.

With that in mind, you may find it hard to believe that very little of a teacher’s education involves taking courses on how to manage a classroom effectively. It’s one thing to tell a teacher that a disruptive student is going to be around whether they like it or not, it’s another thing altogether to say that to an educator who lacks to the necessary skill set to manage the future generations.

“Classroom management is extraordinarily absent in teaching certification programs,” Mike Lombardo, director of prevention supports and services for the Placer County Office of Education, tells EdSource

In fact, a survey shows that when it comes to classroom management, more than 40 percent of new teachers reported feeling either “not at all prepared” or “only somewhat prepared.” The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is responsible for establishing best practices in teaching; last year, the commission made a requirement that new teachers have an excellent understanding of non-punitive methods of discipline, EdSource reports. Restorative justice is one such method, a technique that involves relationship building and making amends. Instead of permanently removing kids from a classroom — a practice that can have a lasting effect (i.e., run-ins with the juvenile justice system, otherwise known as the "school-to-prison pipeline") on a student who likely is only acting out because he or she needs more support — teachers work to better understand the misbehaving student's social and emotional needs.

“[Beginning teachers should] promote students’ social-emotional growth, development and individual responsibility using positive interventions and supports, restorative justice and conflict resolution practices to foster a caring community where each student is treated fairly and respectfully by adults and peers,” according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing's new performance expectations.

Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

California Youth Reinvestment Fund

California Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr. is requesting $100 million to assist young people who find themselves on the wrong side of the Law. The money will support the Youth Reinvestment Fund, a proposal that would specifically help vulnerable youth populations, including minorities, children with disabilities, girls, LGBTQ youth, and foster children, according to a press release. Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer points to research indicating that diversion and mentoring programs produced $3.36 of benefits for every dollar spent, reducing crime and saving taxpayers money.

"Research has shown that non-detention alternatives, particularly for low-level offenses, are more appropriate responses to curb delinquent behavior, avoiding pushing youth deeper into the juvenile justice system, writes Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “Most importantly, communities that have intentional diversion programs show improved outcomes for youth and public safety.”

The proposal relies on trauma-informed, community and health-based interventions, instead of incarceration. Last week, Youth Reinvestment Fund advocates joined forces in Sacramento to lobby for the funds which they believe will help thousands of at-risk youths avoid detention, The Chronicles for Social Change reports. Supporters hope for a different outcome than last year when a similar version fell short.


Youth Reinvestment Fund


Jones-Sawyer, who represents South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park, is confident that funding community organizations to work with at-risk youth will pay off immensely in the long run. If the budget proposal is approved, the assemblymember says it will keep 10,000 young people from arrest, detention, and incarceration each year.

“When we incarcerate young people, that’s about $200,000 to $300,000 per year, per kid,” said Jones-Sawyer. “With this $100 million, I could save the taxpayers maybe $8 to 10 billion.” 

The Youth Reinvestment Fund would apportion:
  • $10 million for Tribal Diversion Programs for Native American youth.
  • $15 million for social workers to assist minors in juvenile or criminal court, within the public defenders office.
  • $75 million would fund local diversion programs and community-based services for at-risk youth over a 3-year grant period.
One of the critical components of the Youth Reinvestment Fund is hiring more social workers to help out in public defenders' offices. As it stands right now, only three counties (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Contra Costa) have social workers on site in public defender's offices. Even still, Jones-Sawyer notes that there are not enough social workers to participate in every case, according to the article. Brendon Woods, head of the Alameda County Public Defender’s office, says that when young people have the help of social workers, it reduces recidivism rates.

“The ones that do have social workers have tremendous success in terms of advocating for their youth, finding alternatives to incarceration, getting them into community-based programs,” Woods said. “It is almost night and day compared to the services that are provided to youth when social workers are involved as opposed to when they are not.”


Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Probation Department Watchdog for Juvenile Justice

At first glance, Campus Kilpatrick in idyllic Malibu, CA, may not be what you might expect, a juvenile detention facility. That is because the center is following a somewhat different outline for the rehabilitation of youngsters with past troubles. Those sent to Kilpatrick are subject to a 16-week rehabilitation program focusing less on punishment and more on education, counseling, and vocational training. Instead of correctional officers running the show, teachers and counselors take center stage—guided by a trauma-informed and child-centered approach.


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Juvenile Justice Watchdog


L.A. Model
With a model more similar to a boarding/military school than a detention facility, the first class of residents arrived on campus July 3, 2017, and “graduated” just before the turn of the year. While the program is widely hailed as a success, it will take years before we can know for certain how effective the program is compared to previous approaches. A group of independent researchers is following the youths who complete the Campus Kilpatrick, The Los Angeles Times reports. It is likely that it will take a great length of time to determine the efficacy of the "L.A. Model" of juvenile rehabilitation. 

The L.A. Model is one of many changes when it comes to juvenile justice in California. Last week, a new watchdog agency to oversee the Los Angeles County Probation Department was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Juvenile abuse, sexual assault, and the practice of solitary confinement at detention camps for young people are among the chief concerns.

There are “profound and deep-seated” problems, Chief Probation Officer Terri McDonald tells NBC Los Angeles. McDonald is tasked with reforming the department, and she supports the oversight commission. She also wants to point out recent successes, such as Campus Kilpatrick and the closing of three probation camps.

"I believe profoundly in oversight," McDonald said. "I believe in community engagement and transparency in the work that we do." 

The commission's job will be traveling to and observing juvenile halls and camps throughout the state, according to the article. The watchdog is also responsible for tracking the recent criminal justice reforms in California and report directly to McDonald and the parole board. Eventually, the commission will oversee adult probationers, as well.

Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Absolving Juveniles Fines, Fees Court Costs

probation
As the saying goes, ‘crime doesn’t pay;’ however, and as far as the state is concerned, criminals do. Everyone knows that in many cases if a person is caught, charged, and convicted of a crime, they are facing jail time. If the offender is a minor, they are remanded to a juvenile justice facility for a given length of time. The thing that most people do not know is that the easiest part of a given punishment is the time behind bars, the hard part is the financial costs that come with breaking the law. The economic toll extends far beyond retaining the services of an attorney, and remember, if you cannot afford a lawyer, then one will be provided for you.

Depending on the offense, sentencing can include victim restitution; and more times than not, people released from jails and prisons go on probation for varying lengths of time, all of which costs money. It is no different for juveniles either, except for who is responsible for paying the bills. Of course, it is unrealistic to think that a 16-year old can pay their legal fees, it isn’t as if they have high-paying jobs. So, the bills fall on mothers and fathers who, in most cases, are on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.

The fees that the families of juvenile offenders are responsible for paying is a significant amount of money. According to The Crime Report, fees come from:
  • Victim Restitution
  • Baseline Fines
  • Administrative Costs (i.e., probation, electronic monitoring, and public defenders)


High Pay and Low Gain


When a youth's fines and fees are not paid, the debt is taken up by the tax franchise board which will garnish the money from parents’ paychecks, according to the article. Even still, Kate Weisburd, Director of the Youth Defender Clinic in California, says that counties end up paying in the long run. Recouping fines and fees from impoverished families ends up costing counties more than what offenders owe in the first place.

“[Counties] weren’t recouping much to begin with” said Weisburd, an alum of Brown University and Columbia Law School. “What happens is a family is billed $4,000 in administrative fees, and it would cost the county that much money to collect it. Processing costs so much and these poor families can’t afford to pay for it.” 

The fact that adjustments need to come about isn't lost on juvenile judges, according to the article. In fact, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges approved a resolution that would no longer require juveniles and their families to cover the legal costs. In California, a law went into effect this past January making it the first state to do away with fees for incarcerated youth. It may be more difficult in some states to enact such reforms; however, individual judges have the right to not levy fines and fees against minors.


Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

California Teachers Contend With Restorative Justice

willful defiance
The so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” is a topic on many people’s minds in California. The subject is also the focus of specific laws that help avoid trapping young people in the criminal justice system; such legislation is part of a broader effort to reduce the California prison population. Seeing as many adolescents start running into problems with authority in high school, it is of value to discuss some of the difficulties that educators say they are facing in the wake of Sanders v. Kern High School District (KHSD).

It is fair to say that teenagers do not belong in adult prison systems, nor should they be expelled from school for minor infractions. However, over the years both scenarios have been a reality for many young people, especially minorities. Sanders v. KHSD, was a suit levied by the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Faith in the Valley, the National Brotherhood Foundation, and others alleging that minorities were suspended and expelled at higher rates than their white students.

Teachers in Kern County have found it difficult to rein in students of late, which they place partial blame on Sanders v. KHSD, Bakersfield.com reports. A number of teachers are targets of physical and verbal assault since the district began implementing a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model.

PBIS and Willful Defiance


Is it possible that students, knowing they face lesser penalties for their actions, are emboldened? This year, at least ten teachers at KHSD campuses have become victims of assault, according to the article. While Sanders v KHSD may have a hand in the recent spate of abuses, there are other factors to consider. Restorative justice programs aim to get to the source of a student's problem rather than resort to immediate suspension or expulsion. Students acting out are taken out of class and talk out their issues with trained staff. Some educators contend that PBIS allows students to continue behaving badly as they are without real punishment “helping breed a culture of misbehavior.”

Another change in recent years that could play a part in student unruliness is how schools now handle “willful defiance,” a category used to describe non-violent misbehavior in class. A bill was passed making it illegal to suspend students for willful defiance which Bakersfield High School Principal David Reese says is the real source of the problem, not PBIS, the article reports.

"It's out of frustration of changes to the law about willful defiance, and it's not a BHS problem or a KHSD problem. This is a frustration that crosses California and the nation as research has come in that shows suspending kids 'willy-nilly' for disruption of school activities or defiance needs to be clarified," Reese said.

Juvenile Defense Attorney


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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

California Juvenile Justice Reform

Equity Justice Package
The proposed #EquityAndJustice2018 package includes several bills that could drastically change juvenile justice in California. If the legislative measure makes its way to the Governor’s desk, it could help put a stop to the juvenile justice to adult corrections pipeline. The group of bills includes SB 1391, SB 1392 and SB1393 introduced by Senators Ricardo Lara (D) Long Beach and Holly Mitchell (D) Los Angeles, according to Oakland Post. Thus far, the package has earned a stamp of approval from the Public Policy Committee and will now go before the Appropriations Committee. Hopefully, the series of bills will be received well.

Equity and Justice Package


SB 1391: “Existing law provides that, notwithstanding open course provisions in statute or regulations of the board of governors, the governing board of a community college district that provides classes for inmates of certain facilities may include the units of full-time equivalent students generated in those classes for purposes of state apportionments. This bill would repeal 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, thereby amending Proposition 57.

SB 1392: “Existing law imposes an additional 3-year sentence for each prior separate prison term served by a defendant where the prior and current offense was a violent felony, as defined. If that provision does not apply, existing law instead imposes a one-year term for each prior separate prison term or county jail felony term under the law, except under specified circumstances. This bill would delete the provision that requires an additional one-year term.

SB 1393: “Existing law requires the court, when imposing a sentence for a serious felony, in addition and consecutive to the term imposed for that serious felony, to impose a 5-year enhancement for each prior conviction of a serious felony. Existing law generally authorizes a judge, in the interests of justice, to order an action dismissed, but precludes a judge from striking any prior serious felony conviction in connection with imposition of the 5-year enhancement. This bill would delete the restriction prohibiting a judge from striking a prior serious felony conviction in connection with imposition of the 5-year enhancement described above and would make conforming changes.

Juvenile Justice Press Conference


Sens. Ricardo Lara and Holly J. Mitchell held a press conference to discuss the three bills mentioned above, as well as SB 1050. These new bills propose to reform juvenile and adult criminal sentencing. Please take some time to watch the video below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Juvenile Defense Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges, Attorney Walsh can assist you and your family in a number of ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Cannabis Legalization Affects Juveniles

marijuana
California has a long history of leading the way on legislative issues. Marijuana is no different; in 1996 California became the first state to successfully approve a measure allowing doctors to recommend cannabis use for patients with specific health conditions. Now, a little over twenty years since setting a historical precedent by taking a stance divergent from that of the Federal government, some 29 states and D.C. have medical marijuana programs.

The “green revolution” continues to sweep across the country. In 2012, Colorado and Washington's voters voted in favor of marijuana legalization, essentially decriminalizing the drug for adult personal use. Today, eight states (including California) allow adults to consume the contentious drug without fear of legal repercussions. Which begs the questions, what happens when minors are found using or possessing cannabis?

Marijuana, despite most Americans considering the drug benign, can cause serious harm to young people’s developing brains. In fact, researchers remain divided over the long-term repercussions of cannabis use, but most agree that young people have the most to lose. Just because a substance is deemed unhealthy, shouldn’t necessarily mean that young people found with the drug should find themselves in the juvenile justice system. 

What Does Cannabis Legalization Mean for Juveniles?



California Proposition 64 brought with it far more than just a license for adults to smoke “pot.” The bill provides an avenue for people to reduce penalties for most crimes involving the drug retroactively. Historically, having a criminal charge on your record for marijuana would make it far more difficult to land jobs or find housing; now, people can get their felonies reduced to misdemeanors or expunged completely, opening up doors in people’s lives that were once shut.

“A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits,” San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascón, tells The O.C. Register

It is no secret that young people, including teenagers are apt to experiment with marijuana, which remains illegal under both state and Federal law. Proposition 64 did away with all cannabis-related criminal penalties for people under 18, The Orange County Register reports. Instead of jail and fines, minors are subject to community service and drug education courses for marijuana-related offenses. It should come as little surprise that California is the first state to write this kind of provision into their legalization measure; once again leading the charge.

Reducing sentences for adult marijuana offenses will have a lasting impact on countless Californians. Although, one could also argue that keeping young people out of the juvenile justice system will spare an even more significant number of people from paying an enormous cost for a wrong decision.

Juvenile Defense Attorney



At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges, Attorney Walsh can assist you and your family in a number of ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Longer Stays In Juvenile Detention

juvenile offenders
It is probably not hard for most people to understand why youth in juvenile detention facilities usually do better in the long run than young people serving time in prison. Once a person is caught up in the adult criminal justice system, the likelihood of recidivism is exceedingly high. With that in mind and citing research, California Governor Jerry Brown is asking for $3.8 million in his final budget proposal to fund allowing youth offenders longer stays in juvenile justice facilities, The Sacramento Bee reports. The plan underwent review by the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary during a hearing on March 22, 2018.

As it stands right now, juvenile offenders in California can remain in Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities until their 23rd birthday, according to the report. If a person’s sentence hasn’t come to an end by that time, the remainder is to be served in an adult correctional facility. Brown’s budget proposal, among other things, aims to lengthen stay caps in DJJ housing facilities. So, let’s take a look at what the proposal would mean for young people in the juvenile justice system if approved.


Rehabilitation, Not Recidivism


First, a California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) report shows that 74.2 percent of youth released from a DJJ facility in 2011-12 were re-arrested within three years; even still, DJJ inmates had lower recidivism rates than youth prison inmates. More funding would cover the cost of keep youth offenders in DDJ housing until 25, mitigating the risk of a young person being transferred to adult correctional facilities, the article reports. The money would allow for juveniles, convicted in adult court, to serve their time in DJJ facilities if they can complete their sentence by their 25th birthday.

Lastly, Brown’s budget proposal would cover the cost of creating a young adult offender pilot program. The CDCR would be able to place 76 less dangerous youth offenders in two unique juvenile housing centers, rather than prison. The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) projects juvenile detention is far more costly than adult prison, $80,000 versus $30,000 each year. Two years from now, the 2020 budget proposal would require $9.2 million annually to cover the costs of extended stays in juvenile detention. It is worth noting that it may cost more to fund longer stays up front, but it will save money over time, according to the LAO.

Frankie Guzman, director of the National Center for Youth Law's California Youth Justice Initiative, supports Brown’s proposal; but, believes that community-based programs, instead of DDJ housing for less serious offenders, would be even more useful. Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:



If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Juvenile Offense Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges, Attorney Walsh can assist you and your family in many ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Los Angeles County Teen Court

teen court
Young people are not the best at thinking things through thoroughly before they act, and as a result, they sometimes learn valuable lessons. Even when minors understand the difference between “right” and “wrong,” they can still make unfortunate errors in judgment that can cost them significantly. While some offenses committed by minors are severe and should carry a commensurate punishment, most infractions are benign. However, getting caught up in the juvenile justice system for a minor offense often does more harm than good.

More than a decade ago, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station started a diversion program, called “Teen Court.” Minors who commit minor offenses and meet specific criteria are eligible for Teen Court, excluding them from incarceration, formal probation, and a conviction on their record if they complete the requirements within a six-month period. The program can make all the difference for teenagers, potentially keeping them from becoming trapped in the criminal justice system.

L.A. County Teen Court


Teen Court is unique in several ways, notably in the fact that Juveniles who commit minor offenses plead guilty to a jury of their peers, meaning other teenagers in school. After which, teens in the diversion program must avoid getting into trouble during a six-month probationary period, according to KHTS. Juveniles taking part in the program have to do community service, write letters of apology and pay restitution to the victim or victims. Teen Court is only available to first-time offenders.

“We deal with juveniles that have committed misdemeanors and even felonies,” said Dan Finn, a detective with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “The only limits are: we don’t take serious felony charges like gang-related crime, rape, murder (or) robbery.”

The goal of programs, like Teen Court, is to avoid recidivism. Data indicates that around half of teens who don’t take part in diversion programs end up going on to commit more crimes. Detective Finn points out that less than 15 percent of the juveniles who go through the Teen Court commit another offense. Owing to the success in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County is following suit; a little over a year ago, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a plan that would make diversion the focus of the county’s juvenile justice system. The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, reports that there are 38 Teen Courts in operation at high schools throughout Los Angeles County and over 70 judicial officers preside over the program.

“We catch these kids early, and it’s making a difference,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley, tells California Courts Newsroom. “We are incarcerating fewer kids, and saving millions of dollars keeping them out of the juvenile justice system.”

Juvenile Offense Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges, Attorney Walsh can assist you and your family in a number of ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

SB 607: Suspending Students for Willful Defiance

SB 607
Adolescents are not the best at exercising sound judgment, and part of growing up is learning by your mistakes. Young people are instructed to always be on their best behavior, to act their age, so on and so forth. While most youths are pretty good at following the rules, especially in public settings like middle and high schools, there are some who like to push the envelope. Seeing just how much one can get away with is a fairly common trait among a number of students. However, choosing to not use one’s head before engaging in specific behaviors, i.e., disrupting class, getting into fights, and participating in illicit substance use, is often a slippery slope to detention, suspension, and even expulsion.

In many cases, teens who get into trouble with an authority figure in school are merely acting out. The reasons for doing things that will inevitably garner the ire of a teacher are usually rooted in some kind of issue a young person is having outside of school. Troubled teens, perhaps more times than not, are contending with problems at home. Such individuals could probably use guidance and support from the faculty members; instead, they get the opposite.

Punishing disruptive students may seem logical and making examples of students is likely to send a clear message to classmates about what kinds of behavior will not be tolerated. However, multiple day suspensions as a means of punishment might do more harm than good, serving only to cause teens to get behind in class which brings on more problems.


Senate Bill 607


Did you know that that there is a cut off age for when an adolescent can no longer get away with disrupting a classroom in California? It’s true, up until fourth grade, kids cannot face suspension for engaging in what is known as "willful defiance," that is disrupting class or defying teachers. What’s more, thanks to California Assembly Bill (AB) 420, expelling students for backtalk and not doing assignments is no longer permitted, CBS Sacramento reports. Citing concerns over the real impact of suspensions, some lawmakers would like to see AB 420-style protections for teenagers, as well.

“If you’re suspended out of school even once, that doubles the likelihood the student will drop out,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson in 2014.

California Senate Bill (SB) 607 would extend the protections of AB 420, protections which expire in July of this year. If passed, it would mean that schools couldn’t suspend students of any age for petty offenses. SB 607 provides “willful defiance” suspension protections to all students, Your Central Valley reports. The new legislation could significantly help minority and disabled students who are suspended at higher rates, according to ACLU data.

"When we look at the data, we see who it is used on," Senator Nancy Skinner said. "It's used on kids of color, it's used on LGBTQ kids, it's used on kids with disabilities."

It’s worth pointing out that SB 607 wouldn’t protect students who make threats, commit acts of violence, or steal. Strict penalties will still apply to such offenses; the new law is meant to keep kids in class even when they make poor decisions. There is opposition to the legislation, critics worry that it might scare teachers away in a state already dealing with shortages.

"If you're not going to allow us to have the right to take someone who is defiant to authority out of the situation, so they don't infect everyone else in class, nobody learns," said Former Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Larry Powell. "The teacher is disheartened and wants to get out of the profession." Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Juvenile Offense Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in navigating the school disciplinary process and juvenile law. If your son or daughter is facing expulsion, Attorney Walsh can assist you and your family in many ways. Please contact our office for a free consultation.