Monday, September 23, 2019

Child Abuse: A Pathway to the Juvenile Justice System

juvenile justice
Abuse or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can significantly alter the course of a child's life and lead to severe problems. Trauma of any kind can leave an indelible mark on a person's psyche. With treatment and support for social services, children may adopt unhealthy behaviors due to a shortage of coping mechanisms.

Many adults who struggle with drugs and alcohol or have run-ins with the law have a history of trauma stemming from physical and sexual abuse. In an attempt to escape one's symptoms, turning to mind-altering substances appears to be a logical choice. Illicit drug use can lead to legal problems for young people. Some will even commit burglaries or theft in order to afford their drugs, which can be another path to the juvenile or criminal justice system.

What's more, young people who suffer at the hands of abusive parents can find their way into legal troubles in some unexpected ways. Running away from home to escape violence can precipitate arrests, as can fighting back against one's abuser.

Child Abuse Leads to Incarceration

Experiencing abuse in the home appears to be a common precursor to involvement with the justice system. Janelle Hawes, Ph.D. and Jerry Flores, Ph.D. conducted interviews with 33 girls at a juvenile detention center in southern California that supports the above statement, according to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. They found that abuse played a role in these young girls’ first involvement with the juvenile justice system.

The researchers discovered that parents or guardians abused 14 of the girls, the article reports. Some of the girls stated that fighting back against their oppressors resulted in arrests and detention. Others were arrested for running away from home to escape further abuse. Another path to the juvenile justice system was reporting their abuse to institutional actors like police and social workers. Below you will find a few examples of these types of instances:

"I love my mom, my mom used to beat the f-lip out of me, like crap out of me and one day I pulled a knife on her and I told her to stop and they put me in a damn mental institution," said Debby, 14. 

Aracely, 19, first got involved in the juvenile justice system after reporting her abuse to a criminal justice officer at school, according to the article. The officer took her to talk to the father (her abuser) and then decided that Aracely actions were tantamount to running away and arrested her. She said: 

"… I had went to school, 'cause um, I was scared of going back home. I didn't wanna go back home with my dad [because of abuse] … I was like, oh I don't wanna go with my dad, like, I don't really wanna go with him and then they're like 'we're gonna talk to your dad' and they came back, they came back into the room and they told me to get up and put my hands behind my back and that's when I got arrested."

Annabelle, 17, had a similar experience to Arcely. Escaping the abuse meant running away which lead to arrests. "Me and my father have never been close. Um, and I would always — I felt left out so I'd always go out there on the streets. I would run away a lot and then my father would kick me out. He would call the cops and say that I ran away and I started getting in trouble with the cops."

Once a young person gets into the criminal or juvenile justice systems, they are far more likely to have run-ins with the police in the future. Research shows that young people need resources, support, and therapy, not juvenile detention. Running away from abuse should not be a crime or the impetus for juvenile detention.

California Juvenile Justice Attorney

Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free, confidential consultation. We can help you determine if we can assist you with your son's or daughter's legal or school troubles. As a former prosecutor, attorney Walsh is uniquely equipped to advocate for the needs of your family and help obtain the best possible outcome in your child's case. (714) 619-9355.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Juvenile Delinquency Rates in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Report on Juvenile Delinquency Rates

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

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

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

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

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

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Senate Bill 419 Signed Into Law

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Newsom Signs Senate Bill 419

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

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

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

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

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

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California School Discipline Attorney

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