Katie's Blog

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Appeals Court Upholds SB 1391

SB 1391 Upheld
At The Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we are following Senate Bill 1391 developments closely. Some of our readers may remember that SB 1391 bars prosecutors from filing motions to transfer youths under 16 to adult court. In a previous post, we wrote about how some district attorneys believe the legislation is unconstitutional.

Solano County prosecutors, for instance, challenged the new law signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown. They argued that SB 1391 violated a 2016 ballot measure permitting juvenile-court judges to send youths' cases to adult criminal court, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Solano County isn’t alone; several other counties are challenging the new law as well.

This month, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco rejected Solano County’s challenge, upholding the law, the article reports. The decision is a victory for juvenile justice advocates, but the issue is far from settled. It is likely that the California Supreme Court will have the final say in the matter ultimately.

Boiling Down SB 1391


In 2000, a ballot measure was passed allowing district attorneys to bring charges against 14-year-olds in adult criminal court for “serious” crimes. DAs had full discretionary power in deciding which youths got transferred. They did not require permission from judges.

Proposition 57 repealed the ballot measure in 2016, according to the article. The change meant that DAs wishing to transfer youths to adult court had to seek a transfer from a juvenile court judge first. Judges would then weigh several factors before deciding to allow or deny a transfer.

SB1391 put a stop to all attempts to move youths under 16 to adult court. The bill prohibits the transfer of 14- and 15-year-old offenders to adult criminal court in nearly all circumstances. The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco decided that SB 1391 does not conflict with Prop. 57. Moreover, Justice Alison Tucher said that SB1391 “is consistent with and furthers Proposition 57’s goal of emphasizing rehabilitation.”

The appeals court ruling was unanimous, 3-0. Justice Turner writes:

“SB 1391 takes Proposition 57’s goal of promoting juvenile rehabilitation one step further by ensuring that almost all who commit crimes at the age of 14 or 15 will be processed through the juvenile system.”

The district attorney’s office could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. We will continue to monitor SB 1391 in the coming months.


Orange County, CA Juvenile Criminal Attorney


Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh to learn how we can help your son or daughter. Attorney Walsh has the experience to advocate for your family and help bring about the best possible outcome. We understand that choosing the right firm to defend your child is not a simple task, but it is vital that families opt for one that is seasoned in juvenile court.

Katie Walsh is a former district attorney and a juvenile defense specialist. She is uniquely equipped to help young people overcome legal troubles. Please reach out to us today for a free consultation. (714) 619-9355

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Cal. Division of Juvenile Justice: Reorganization

juvenile justice
California Governor Gavin Newsom has big plans for the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice. Earlier this year, we shared that Gov. Newsom is proposing transferring control of the division away from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Soon, the California Health and Human Services Agency might be overseeing California’s young offenders.

The move is part of more than ten years of placing a greater emphasis on restorative justice. Experts tend to agree that when young people are given specific tools and support, they are more likely to change their ways. Research shows that punitive actions against young offenders, including detention, fuels a vicious cycle of recidivism.

On this blog, we make a sincere effort to apprise readers about novel approaches to the handling of juvenile justice. Research indicates that the majority of young individuals who find themselves suspended, expelled, or in trouble with the law, face enormous obstacles at home.

Many inmates in juvenile detention centers struggle with psychological or behavioral health issues. The goal is to put a stop to the school-to-prison pipeline in California and to get young people the assistance they require to succeed.

A new budget-related bill designates the proposed new agency the Department of Youth and Community Restoration, The Los Angeles Times reports. While the plan makes sense in theory, California probation chiefs have some significant concerns.

Chief Probation Officers Worry Over Reorganization


The plan to shift juvenile justice to the CHHS includes setting up a separate administrative office, according to the article. It also calls for a new training institute for officers and an internal oversight division.

It's come to light that those spearheading the shake-up never consulted with probation officials. Probation chiefs argue that they should be playing a more significant role in the proposed move. They also fear that the CHHS might struggle to provide adequate oversight or services, such as addiction treatment and life skills classes.

“It has taken decades to open lines of communication [with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation]. Until we know what will be accompanying [the governor’s proposal], a change in address doesn’t really always make a difference,” said Karen Pank, the executive director of Chief Probation Officers of California. 

The Legislative Analyst’s Office states that the administration has not offered enough information about the proposal, the article outlines. A recent report from the LAO indicates that it is unclear if the transition will increase access to rehabilitation programs for youth offenders.

The nonpartisan government agency, which provides fiscal and policy advice to the California Legislature, suggests that reorganization might result in higher costs for the state. Moreover, the transition could mean that some young people are subject to a disruption in vital services.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


Parents of children, who are facing legal difficulties, can benefit from seeking the assistance of an experienced juvenile criminal attorney. Attorney Katie Walsh's legal experience in juvenile law makes her uniquely equipped to advocate for your family and help secure a favorable outcome.

Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh today for a free consultation. (714) 619-9355

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

California SB 1391 Under Fire

SB 1391 Under Fire
Last year, we took time to cover a controversial piece of legislation relevant to Californians—Senate Bill 1391. The multifaceted bill is meant to shift the focus away from incarceration and to reduce overcrowding in the criminal justice system. Moreover, SB 1391 addresses the “cradle to prison pipeline:” Opponents of the measure claim that it puts the needs of criminals over public safety.

As we reported, Governor Brown signed SB 1391 in the twilight of his gubernatorial tenure. In justifying the decision to endorse the bill, Governor Brown wrote: “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.”

The controversial bill expands on the mandate of another piece of legislation, Proposition 57, passed in 2016. Under SB 1391 a district attorney can no longer 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.”

SB 1391 Under Fire


Despite the passing and signing of SB 1391, opponents continue to attack the bill, including local prosecutors. They argue that the legislation conflicts with what the voters approved when they decided to support Prop 57.

“Our position then, as now, is that 1391 is unconstitutional but (the legislature) passed it regardless,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

Even though prosecutors across the state continue to voice opposition to SB 1391’s mandate, more than 100 legal scholars from California universities signed a February white paper calling for SB 1391 to be upheld, according to The Sacramento Bee. The law experts hail from the University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, University of California, San Francisco’s Hastings College of the Law, and Stanford and UC Berkeley’s law schools. In the letter, the scholars assert that “opponents of S.B. 1391 mischaracterize the law to manufacture a controversy that does not really exist.”

“I support reform. I’m OK with the science that juveniles’ brains aren’t fully formed and that they shouldn’t necessarily be sent to prison,” said Reisig. “But when you look at terrible, violent offenses – if somebody 15 years old can be released at 25, it makes no sense to me from the standpoint of public safety.”

Since January 1, 2019, Sacramento judges have had to consider at least four SB 1391 cases, according to the article. The same is true for judges in Kern, Riverside, Solano, and Yolo counties. The juvenile justice argument surrounding SB 1391 is sure to continue even as lawmakers propose even more reforms.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland is proposing AB 1423. The bill, if passed, would allow minors whose felony cases were tried in adult court, then reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed, to file a petition to have their cases sent back to juvenile court.

California Juvenile Law Attorney


Attorney Katie Walsh has the experience to advocate for any family, no matter the crime, whose son or daughter is facing legal challenges. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh today to learn how she can mount a rigorous, committed legal defense for your loved one.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Studying Restorative Justice in School

restorative justice in school
The push for restorative justice in California schools is thought to be a step in the right direction. Actions emphasizing the importance of child well-being, at home and in school, are a far cry from the punitive approaches of the past.

Rather than suspend or expel a student, some children are finding support. The goal is to keep young people in the classroom and out of the school-to-prison pipeline. California is one state that is moving away from disciplining students for minor offenses; choosing instead to focus on conflict mediation. 

Lawmakers are working hard to end suspensions for “disruption and defiance” in all grades. We recently covered the topic of Senate Bill 419, a bill that would ban out-of-school suspensions for “defiant and disruptive behavior” in grades K-12.

While the future of SB-419 is uncertain, the Golden State has already made progress in reducing suspension rates. According to the California Department of Education, 710,000 suspensions were issued during the 2011-12 school year in California. During the 2017-18 school year, only 363,000 students received suspensions.

Many people believe that the move away from punitive actions for relatively minor offenses is good. However, there is not much data on how reforms are improving school climates, Lake County Record-Bee reports. A new study aims to shed some light on this subject.

California School Safety Study


A five-year, $5-million study led by the Washington D.C.-based American Institutes for Research (AIR) is in an 18-month planning period stage, according to the article. Researchers are determining three California school districts to focus on in the next three-and-a-half years. AIR is working in conjunction with Virginia Tech University’s Laboratory for the Study of Youth Inequality and Public Counsel, a Los Angeles-based public interest law firm. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is funding the study. 

“We still have a misunderstanding of school safety, which most think of as the physical safety of students,” said Patricia Campie, AIR’s principal researcher for the study. “But the more important and more difficult thing is understanding the social and emotional safety of children.” 

The research team will look at multiple factors and consider the impact policies have on one demographic to the next. They will also consider how the outcomes differ in various areas, including urban, suburban or rural settings. The main areas of focus in the research, according to the article, include:
  • School discipline policies and how they are enforced;
  • how classmates treat students from different backgrounds and orientations;
  • and, whether there are people and protocols for addressing the trauma students experience at home and the quality of parent and community engagement.
Lead researcher Campie hopes that the findings will break school officials and policymakers of the mentality that one approach can work in every school. The final report could be available as early as 2022.

Orange County Juvenile Justice Attorney


The Offices of Katie Walsh has the experience to advocate for families whose children are facing disciplinary action in school. Expulsion can significantly derail a young person’s life and create more problems.

We understand that a school’s priority is to protect the school and the district in expulsion cases. With that in mind, it is vital that a family has a juvenile law expert to protect their child. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Closing Juvenile Hall in San Francisco

San Francisco juvenile hall
Youth incarceration is a significant topic of discussion in California from one end of the state to the other. The question of how to best serve young people who struggle is one that many individuals are trying to answer. A primary goal is to keep children out of detention centers and in the classroom. 

Across the United States, youth crime rates are falling. Last week, we discussed some of the reasons behind the unprecedented drop in serious crime committed by minors. After the San Francisco Chronicle published a report bringing the trend to light, lawmakers in Northern California are taking action.

In response to The Chronicle’s reporting, three San Francisco supervisors are aiming for the juvenile hall in the city, the S.F. Chronicle reports. Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton, and Matt Haney are drafting legislation that would close the city’s detention center and all but end the practice of jailing youths. If the lawmaker's efforts prove successful, it will make San Francisco the only city in California without a juvenile hall.

Meredith Desautels, a staff attorney the Youth Law Center, tells The Chronicle the proposed move is in line with current research. Studies show that incarceration is harmful to young people. She said that closing juvenile hall “would provide the shock to the system that we need to change our thinking about how to approach youth who have gotten into trouble.”

San Francisco’s juvenile hall has 150 beds, according to the article. However, usually fewer than 50 youths are held inside at one time. The money spent on keeping the center open and housing youths could better be spent on innovative programs instead. Last year, the annual cost of housing a child reached $266,000.

“We’re done with jailing kids,” said Supervisor Ronen.

Meanwhile, In Los Angeles


While SF Supervisors have their sights on closing juvenile hall, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have questions about unspent state funding intended to reduce juvenile delinquency, KNBC reports. Some $79 million sits in reserve, while valuable programs lack operating funds, says Supervisor Janice Hahn.

"It is unacceptable that nonprofits dedicated to supporting youth are underfunded while millions of dollars meant for them are going unused," said Hahn. "We need immediate clarity on these funds and a plan to get them out into the community as quickly as possible." 

A motion was put forth – co-authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas – to expedite a scheduled audit of the problem, according to the article. Supervisor Hahn also points out that the Probation Department's budget doesn’t show signs of making the necessary moves toward prevention and community-based interventions.

It seems that the Probation Department is at odds with the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC) which oversees state funding. The latter has a plan to dedicate more resources toward county services to community-based organizations, the article reports. The former’s budget plan does not match the JJCC’s.

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


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Southern California Juvenile Law Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in juvenile defense. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Walsh has a unique set of skills that she can utilize when advocating for your family. If your son or daughter is charged with a crime or is facing a school expulsion hearing, we can help your family achieve the best possible outcome. Please contact us today. (714) 619-9355

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Youth Crime Decline in the UnIted States

youth crime
“The school-to-prison pipeline starts and ends with schools,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, in 2013.

When kids are in the classroom, they are much less likely to engage in risky behaviors. It is so important that school districts across the country do what they can to keep young people in school, and off the street. Suspension and expulsion are warranted at times, but providing struggling young people with support can prevent the need, in many cases.

The juvenile crime rate, especially violent youth offenses, is on the decline, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. While law enforcement experts point out that crime is cyclical, an unexpected, three-decade trend is underway. Since the 1990s, youth assaults, homicides, theft, and truancy have steadily decreased.

When a unique pattern occurs, it is only natural for experts to speculate on the reasons why. The school-to-prison pipeline still exists, but it seems that some initiatives have had a welcome effect. Perhaps most interesting is that the decline in youth violent crime transcends demographics.

What’s Behind The Youth Crime Drop?


There are so many variables to consider, factors that could influence juvenile crime rates. It’s challenging to put one’s finger on the driving force behind the decrease in youth criminality. Jill Tucker, writing for the SF Chronicle, lays out some of the likely catalysts in ever-falling youth crime rates in the United States. Tucker has been writing about education in California for 18 years.

Some leading theories on what is influencing this nationwide trend include a decline in “crack” cocaine use, according to the article. In the 1980s and ’90s, urban youths were exploited by drug dealers to sell crack on “the corner.” Adolescents and teens were ideal candidates because they are not subject to adult drug laws.

Other leading hypotheses for the trend in question involve reductions in lead exposure and adult mass incarceration. According to one study, lead (a once common ingredient of paint and gasoline) can disrupt brain development, thus influencing impulse and behavior regulation. In recent decades, the adult prison population has risen exponentially; causing some experts to theorize that there are fewer criminals to lure youths into crime.

Improvements in education is another topic of serious consideration. The decline in youth violent crime happens to coincide with more kids in preschool and the launch and spread of education programs. After-school programs can keep kids out of trouble. The article notes that the high school graduation rate hit 85 percent in 2017, following a two-decade trend. The combination of all three factors has likely had an impact on crime reduction.

“The nation needs to focus dollars and efforts on reforming school climates to keep students engaged in ways that will lead them toward college and a career and away from crime and prison,” said Bob Wise.

Orange County School Expulsion Attorney


The Law Offices of Katie Walsh specializes in helping families whose sons and daughters are facing the prospect of school expulsion. Attorney Walsh understands that a minor infraction can have a significant impact on a child’s future. She can advocate for your family.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about we help you and your loved one negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

California’s Department of Juvenile Justice: Violence & Neglect

juvenile justice
The new year brought a new California governor, Gavin Newsom, and with him a plan to move the Division of Juvenile Justice to the state’s Health and Human Services Agency. Transitioning juvenile justice away from the corrections departments may result in significant changes for the better, but only time will tell. This Governor’s announcement came just before the release of a report highlighting severe issues at the four juvenile detention state facilities.

Data from the Division of Juvenile Justice et al. indicates that the state’s 650 incarcerated youths are 20 times more likely to have experienced use of force by staffers, compared to adult prisoners, Mother Jones reports. Moreover, over the last three-years, beatings have increased dramatically, juvenile detention staffers have become more aggressive, and attempted suicides are on the rise.

Up until February 2016, the California juvenile justice system seemed to be doing relatively well in regard to its handling of youth offenders. The reason being is that a 2003 lawsuit settlement led to a court-appointed special master who monitored the division to ensure the DJJ was treating youth detainees humanely, offering adequate medical care, and providing rehabilitative programs. More than ten years of oversight led a state court judge to rule that the agency was compliant and the special master no longer necessary. In three short years, a lot appears to have changed.

Use of Force Jumps Three-Fold


The alarming report indicates that youths housed in juvenile detention facilities were 49 percent more likely to be assaulted, compared to the special masters final year of oversight, according to the article. Researchers found that nearly a third of detainees have experienced a violent incident each month; and, youths involved in riots rose 13 percent in the year following the end of court monitoring. 

Almost all young offenders interviewed for the report shared having witnessed or being subject to guard on inmate violence personally. DJJ use of force tripled in the year following the end of court monitoring. The analysis from the inspector general found that 45 percent of such incidents, including the use of pepper spray, were out of compliance with the agency’s policies.

State facilities saw three attempted suicides between August 2015 to July 2016. In the year following the end of the special master’s monitoring, there were ten attempted suicides. Youths interviewed for the report stated too often their medical needs were not taken seriously, and they were subject to long waits to receive care. In response to the startling findings, Ike Dodson, a DJJ spokesman, said in a statement to Mother Jones:

“While we acknowledge that the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) works with some of California’s most challenged youth, DJJ has been on the frontline of reforming the way juveniles serve their time through education, programs, effective treatment and mental health services.” 

We will continue to follow what comes of this report, but it seems likely some reforms will be on the horizon.


Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


Juvenile defense attorney Katie Walsh goes to significant lengths to ensure each of her client's cases stands out from the others. Aided by her previous experience as a juvenile prosecutor, she is uniquely equipped to advocate for families whose children are facing legal difficulties. Please contact us today to learn how we can help you obtain the best possible outcomes.