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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

ACLU Lawsuit Ends YAT Program

YAT Program
Last summer, we wrote about the Riverside County Youth Accountability Team Program (YAT) and how it treated teens, never convicted of crimes, as criminals. The program was designed to scare kids, mostly black and Latinos, straight. However, all the initiative did was contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. Kids whose only infractions were a failure to cooperate with school faculty members found themselves on probation.

As we pointed out last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Northern California, San Diego, and the National Center for Youth Law filed a lawsuit to end the YAT program. In July, the ACLU announced that their efforts paid off; a settlement was reached with the federal district court that severs the relationship between Riverside County school districts and the probation department.

The YAT program has been in place since 2001; thousands of young people have been needlessly affected and had their rights violated since its inception. Probation is not an effective way to address the needs of children who have bad grades or struggle with trauma and mental health issues. The proposed settlement will hopefully lead to kids getting much-needed resources.

Setting an Example for the Nation


Even though research shows that juvenile probation is ineffective and even harmful to young people, that was the model for the last 18 years. Youths who were unable to stay on track in school found themselves in the criminal justice system.

The ACLU was able to show the court that the YAT program subjected kids to lengthy lists of conditions with zero-tolerance consequences. Young people in the program were regularly drug tested and had to deal with surprise searches of their home and person.

Rather than diverting students to law enforcement for non-criminal offenses like truancy and defiance, they will now receive counseling and other school and community-based supports. The ACLU writes that the county has committed reinvesting millions of dollars in community organizations that will better serve young people than the criminal justice system.

Students who commit crimes will be guaranteed the right to legal representation throughout the entirety of diversion. They will no longer be subject to rules and restrictions that violate their rights. What’s more, probation officers will undergo specialized training to ensure they comply with the new protocols.

The ACLU hopes that Riverside County’s new approach will one day serve as a model for juvenile justice nationwide.

Orange County, CA Juvenile Criminal Attorney


If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges or a school expulsion hearing in California, then The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help. Attorney Walsh has the experience and knowledge to advocate for your family effectively. Please contact us today to learn more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Suspension and Expulsion, in Preschool

suspension and expulsion
Kicking young people out of school for misbehaving is nothing new, but it is an issue that requires consideration. The science tells us that removing kids, of all ages, from classrooms for minor infractions can start them on a path toward further problems. The school-to-prison pipeline begins with suspension and expulsion.

While most people associate class removals with high school students, it’s also a common occurrence at middle schools, elementary, and preschools. If you find it hard to believe that preschoolers could do anything so severe as to warrant suspension or expulsion, then you are not alone. However, the practice is far more common than you’d probably think.

A 2016 federal study found that an estimated 50,000 preschoolers had been suspended in the previous year, according to the Center for American Progress. Moreover, some 17,000 preschoolers were expelled during the same period. That is 250 youngsters who were being removed from the classroom each day.

Actions have been taken by lawmakers and school officials to end the practice of suspending and expelling the youngest Americans in recent years. California has banned suspending children in grades K-3 for disrupting or willful defiance. Lawmakers have passed legislation that would expand the existing law to include students up to 8th grade. Unfortunately, many young children residing in other states do not have the same protections.

Suspension and Expulsion in Preschool


Even in states that have protections for young people, that encourage schools to intervene rather than expel, a significant number of kids are falling through the cracks. NBC News reports that children under five are being suspended and expelled from preschool, even though they live in cities and states that have acted to prevent such occurrences.

A study conducted in 2005 shows that preschoolers are three times more likely to be expelled. The numbers are even more severe when looking at young people of color and those with disabilities. Another study shows that kids who are removed from classrooms are ten times more likely to drop out of high school. They are at more significant risk of being arrested too.

Laws prohibiting the suspension and expulsion of young people are a step in the right direction. However, not enough is being done to train teachers and fund intervention programs, according to the article. Cemeré James, senior vice president of policy for the National Black Child Development Institute, said:

“When you institute a ban and just a ban with no funds and no support for implementation, you in my opinion are basically doing nothing. If there’s no funding to train teachers and educators to engage with young children in new and different ways, then you’re not changing anything.” 

Teachers must be taught effective techniques for supporting young people. Acting out in class is often a sign that a child is having problems at home or is struggling with emotional and cognitive issues. California has more resources than the vast majority of states and can provide resources to preschools, the article reports. Mental health professionals work with educators to help them better meet the needs of challenging students. 

Orange County School Expulsion Attorney


Attorney Katie Walsh has extensive experience in school discipline matters. If your son or daughter is facing the prospect of expulsion, then it helps to have a representative who can advocate for your loved one’s well-being. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh to learn how we can help you negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

California CROWN Act Addresses Hairstyle Discrimination

CROWN Act
Research suggests that corporate and academic grooming policies unfairly impact black women in the workplace. Dove and the Crown Coalition, a group of beauty industry leaders, civil rights activists and legislators, sponsored a survey to learn more about discrimination relating to hairstyles. 

The survey shows that black women receive formal grooming policies at a rate significantly higher than White women, according to Diverse. Black women also reported they were 80 percent more likely to change their natural hair to meet social or employment expectations.

An earlier study from 2016, conducted by Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, discovered that black girls were disciplined in the state's public schools because of their natural hairstyles. Meaning that black girls are often threatened with suspension and expulsion because schools contend that the student's hair is a disruption.

The authors of the Ohio study write that the disturbing trend "is deeply connected to long-standing Westernized notions of beauty…yet again, this highlights the ways in which black girls are penalized for their incongruity with 'traditional' White notions of womanhood."

California’s CROWN Act


Hairstyles of black people are a part of their heritage; and it's hard to believe that young girls and women are punished for their natural hair in the 21st Century. In an attempt to reduce instances of discrimination in California, lawmakers passed the CROWN Act (“Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair”).

The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair or Senate Bill 188 is meant to combat discrimination based on hairstyles. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on July 3.

The law prohibits employers from enforcing purportedly "race-neutral" grooming policies. The legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Holly Mitchell, who also wears her hair in locs. An author of the Ohio study titled "Race Matters . . . And So Does Gender," Robin A. Wright from the University of Cincinnati, says:

"I actually hear it more from young men, particularly, but also women, that they believe they have to cut off their dreads in order to get a job in corporate America." She adds that "It's ridiculous that we need a law like this in 2019, but our kids and [other] folks are still being discriminated against." 

California is at the top of the list of progressive states, so it makes sense that it is the first state to pass this type of legislation. However, New York approved a similar bill earlier this year, which protects black people's right to wear natural hairstyles.

Many nonprofits support the CROWN Act, and state and national organizations, including the California Employment Lawyers Association, California School Board Association, and the California Teachers Association. According to RadioFacts: "SB 188 will ensure protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Education Code."

California School Discipline Attorney


Please contact The Law Office of Katie Walsh if your child is being discriminated against because of their hairstyle, and may be facing suspension or expulsion. Attorney Walsh has the experience to advocate for your loved one effectively.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Restorative Justice Funding in California

restorative justice
Restorative justice is on the minds of educators in California who seek to reduce student suspensions and expulsions. The goal is to keep youths in the classroom whenever it is possible to do so—the days of removing kids from class for disruption and defiance seem to be largely a thing of the past.

Many large school districts up and down the state have histories of disproportionately suspending and expelling minorities and youths with learning disabilities. The data reveals that such demographics are removed from class at exponentially higher rates than their white counterparts.

Several legislative reforms have led educators to adopt new approaches to dealing with students who act up or get in trouble. Programs were established in the Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego Unified School Districts that utilize alternatives to traditional methods of school discipline.

In 2006, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) became the first to implement a restorative justice program, EdSource reports. Restorative justice coordinators and facilitators work with teachers and students to resolve conflicts in a manner that does not involve removing children from school. The program has served as a model for other school districts across the country and other countries.

Naturally, programs like the one in Oakland and others cost a significant amount of money to facilitate. Recent budget cuts may undermine the effectiveness of Oakland's restorative justice program or jeopardize it altogether.

Funding Restorative Justice


"In recent years, OUSD has made significant strides in changing the prevailing paradigm of punishment and exclusion in response to real or perceived student misconduct," states a report from the Executive Office of the President - December 2016. "These gains reflect deep structural changes at both the district and school site level resulting from more positive, restorative and trauma-informed responses to student behavior."

The OUSD program's future was put in jeopardy due to the school district's proposed budget cuts announced earlier this year. Fortunately, the program's achievements have not gone unnoticed, and the city and private backers have stepped lend support. State data shows that suspensions fell in Oakland by 48 percent between the 2011-12 and 2017-18 school years.

The city of Oakland issued a one-time $690,000 grant to fund the program for the 2019-20 school year, according to the article. Various foundations and philanthropists have also contributed to the effort.

There are no guarantees the program will be funded in the future, says David Yusem, Oakland Unified's restorative justice coordinator. He adds that "We need to make adjustments based on the current fiscal reality." Yusem points out that the program may need to be altered to compensate for funding cuts.

"We are just beginning to have those meetings," Yusem said. "We're taking stock and sort of going from there in terms of where are our priorities and how we can hit them while having less money."

It's likely that Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts will face similar challenges in the coming years.

California School Discipline Attorney


If your child is facing difficulties at school and is at risk of expulsion, then please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh. Juvenile Defense attorney Walsh can represent your child in many ways and advocate for the needs of your family.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reducing Suspension and Expulsion Rates

suspension expulsion
At high schools across America, suspension and expulsion should only be a last resort. Young people who act up in class or break school policies are often dealing with problems at home. They may also be contending with emotional and mental health problems that inhibit their ability to stay focused.

When school districts remove children from the classroom, it can put teens on a path toward more significant problems in the future. No longer receiving support from educators, suspended and expelled youths are at considerable risk of engaging in activities that can land them in handcuffs. Student's removals are the beginning of the school-to-prison pipeline.

School districts that take measures to keep youths in class have an opportunity to affect change. Helping students understand why their behavior is problematic, and what they can do to cope with their feelings, is essential. When young people are given the tools to respond to situations in healthy ways, they are less likely to get into more trouble down the road.

Many U.S. schools are moving away from resorting to using punitive disciplinary actions. Research shows that student bodies benefit from providing support programs. Providing teenagers access to counselors and psychologists is a step towards reducing problems in the classroom. The data indicates that intervention programs are more effective at encouraging adolescents to change their behavior than removing them from class.

Intervention Programs Reduce Suspension and Expulsion Rates


The Antelope Valley Union High School District in northern Los Angeles County has taken steps in reducing class removals. In the last decade, the district’s suspension rate fell 47%, and the expulsion rate dropped 79%, according to the Antelope Valley Press. Educators were able to achieve this feat by implementing intervention programs.

Instead of resorting to suspension and expulsion, schools attempt to address the unique needs of students first. When a teenage boy or girl gets in trouble, the AVUHSD relies on a discipline matrix to help determine what level of intervention is warranted. The district had student support centers, and four social workers were hired to work with at-risk youths.

Youths who are directed to AVUHSD support centers, work with counselors, psychologists, and social workers. They have opportunities to discuss what is happening outside of school; they can learn coping mechanisms that are less disruptive to the class. The goal is to help at-risk teens learn from their mistakes and excel.

“When a student has to be removed from class they are placed in an environment where their social and emotional needs are met,” said a district official said. “The goal is addressing it and getting them back in the classroom.” 

Support centers have paid off; from 2017-18 to 2018-19, suspensions decreased 13% and expulsions 31%.

Orange County Juvenile Attorney


If your son or daughter is in trouble at school, and facing a school expulsion hearing, The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help. It is vital to have an attorney who can advocate for your family. Juvenile defender Katie Walsh as a school expulsion lawyer has handled thousands of cases and may be able to negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

Please contact our office today for a free consultation. Call Today 714 · 619 · 9355

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Grant Funds Youth Diversion Efforts in California

juvenile justice
In 2017, the Santa Barbara County Probation Department began an internal investigation and data mining project. The goal was to determine if there could be policy and practice reforms that might benefit at-risk youths and keep them out of the juvenile justice system, The Santa Maria Sun reports. A comparison of county data revealed that children in Santa Barbara County were being detained and supervised by probation at higher rates than those in similar counties.

A large percentage of children who find themselves in the juvenile justice system have a history of mental illness and behavioral health problems. Such youths often have trauma resulting from abuse. However, many of these young people are not a threat to public safety.

Some experts believe that detaining adolescents with mental health problems is not the answer. Youths benefit from programs that emphasize therapy rather than detention.

This spring, the Santa Barbara County Probation Department was among 16 organizations from across the nation that received specialized diversion training.

Grant Funds Youth Diversion Efforts


The California Board of State and Community Corrections is awarding the Probation Department with a four-year $795,000 Youth Reinvestment Grant, according to the article. The funds will enable Santa Barbara County to offer struggling juveniles diversion programs at no cost to families.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and sits in very well with all the other initiatives we’ve been rolling out since the data mining,” said Holly Benton, Santa Barbara County’s deputy chief probation officer. 

Young people with mental health and substance use problems do not belong behind bars. Offering evidence-based therapies and support in school to kids who are struggling will pay off in the long run. Those in the juvenile justice system are far more likely to be in the adult criminal justice system one day.

Benton points out that one of the reasons diversion programs have had limited success is due to money. Typically, parents are expected to cover the cost when their children are eligible for diversion. Being able to offer mental health and family counseling at no cost could significantly improve success rates.

The Probation Department will work closely with the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA), law enforcement, schools, and community members. Some of the grant money will fund a UC Santa Barbara study to assess which programs are reducing recidivism rates.

Santa Barbara’s new diversion program will likely begin sometime in the fall.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Lawyer


If your child is facing legal difficulties or school expulsion, then please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. As a former prosecutor, attorney Walsh is uniquely equipped to advocate for the needs of your family and help bring about a favorable outcome.

Call juvenile defense attorney Katie Walsh at 714.619.9355 today to learn more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Appeals Court Upholds SB 1391

SB 1391
In May, we wrote about the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco rejecting Solano County’s challenge to Senate Bill 1391. At the time, we pointed out that California counties would likely continue to take issue with this controversial piece of legislation.

For those who don’t know, SB 1391 bars prosecutors from trying 14- and 15-year-olds as adults. The bill is part of a broad effort across the state to place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation for young people on the wrong side of the law.

Last week, advocates of SB 1391 received another victory when a state appeals court in Sacramento ruled the law is constitutional, The Sacramento Bee reports. The bill is meant to serve as an extension of the reforms laid out in 2016’s Proposition 57.

Naturally, many prosecutors across the state are unhappy with last Wednesday’s ruling. District attorneys and victim families are some of SB 1391’s staunchest opponents.

Next Stop, The California Supreme Court


“Senate Bill 1391 does not conflict with Proposition 57, but advances its stated intent and purpose to reduce the number of youths to be tried in adult court, reduce the number of incarcerated persons in state prisons, and emphasize rehabilitation for juveniles,” the appellate court wrote.

The decisions, in San Francisco last month and in Sacramento a week ago, to support the new legislation all but guarantees that the California Supreme Court will take up the matter. Much is at stake for both young defendants and the families who would like to see justice for their loved ones. 

“We have received the Court of Appeal’s decision and we are considering the option of further appellate relief,” said Sacramento County Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard. 

Before Prop. 57, prosecutors were permitted to charge 14- and 15-year-olds as adults in severe cases. Being tried in adult criminal court and being found guilty carries much longer sentences than what is handed down in juvenile court. SB 1391 prevents moving youths under 16 to adult court.

At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we will continue to follow this remarkable story as it develops.

Southern California Juvenile Defense Attorney


Attorney Katie Walsh’s experience, both as a former prosecutor and juvenile defense attorney, makes her uniquely equipped to advocate for your loved one. Please contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help your family. (714) 619-9355

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

School Suspension Rates in Rural California

school suspension
The Bureau of Children’s Justice, a division of the state Attorney General’s Office, is tasked with protecting at-risk children. There are laws which are meant to protect vulnerable young people; it’s the Bureau’s job to enforce such protections. However, children fall through the cracks time and time again.

California school districts have a long history of suspending and expelling minorities and intellectually disabled children. Despite recent efforts to work with children who are having problems in school before resorting to punitive measures, many youths are suspended at alarming rates.

Black and Latino children are suspended and expelled at exceedingly higher rates than white kids in many school districts. This is true even when children of color make up only a slight fraction of the student body. Whether we are looking at high school or elementary school, the data does not lie—minorities bear the brunt of the discipline meted out by faculty.

An investigation is underway to determine why a rural California school district is suspending students at an exponentially higher rate than the statewide average, EdSource reports. A report shows that Butte County’s Oroville City Elementary School District’s suspension rate is three times higher than average in California.

Alarming Suspension Rates in California


Oroville City (pop. 229,294), just north of Sacramento, is the seat of Butte County. Oroville City Elementary suspended 12 percent of its students during the 2017-18 school year, according to the article. However, only four (4) percent of students in public schools were suspended, at least once, across the entire state.

Although black students make up only three percent of the district’s enrollment, they are suspended far more often than their white classmates. An EdSource analysis of the data shows that black students were suspended 70 percent more often than their white students at Oroville City Elementary. Moreover, black kids were suspended two times more often as white children at Ishi Hills Middle School.

During the 2016-17 school year, students in the district were out of school more often due to suspension than virtually all other students in the state, according to the UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies.

“I’m glad the attorney general is paying attention to both the high rates and large racial disparities,” said Daniel Losen, the director of the UCLA center and author of the organization’s suspension report. “There is a lot districts can do to lower suspension rates without jeopardizing the learning environment.” 

The statistics are troubling for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that laws prohibit suspending K-3 students for being disruptive. Senate Bill 419 was introduced this year to expand those protections to grades 4 to 8. Whenever young people are not in a classroom, they are put at significant risk of getting into more trouble. The school-to-prison pipeline begins with suspension and expulsion.

Orange County School Discipline Attorney


If your child is facing expulsion from his or her school, then it is vital that you turn to an expert for guidance. Former prosecutor Katie Walsh has an extensive amount of experience advocating for young people who face problems at school. Please contact us today to learn how Attorney Walsh can help your child with their school expulsion hearing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Juvenile Justice by the Numbers

Juvenile Justice
In 1996, the California Division of Juvenile Justice, the state’s youth correctional system, housed over 10,000 children and young adults (ages 12 to 25), according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

Today, we see a very different picture of juvenile justice in the Golden State. Thanks to several criminal justice reforms and the tireless of countless individuals, rehabilitation is now California’s watchword.

The number of young people housed in juvenile detention centers had fallen to 627, as of June 2018, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. While most people will find this news uplifting, lawmakers still have far to go in ensuring that all children are afforded the same benefits.

Young African Americans and Latinos are over-represented in both arms of the criminal justice system—juvenile and adult. Of the 71,923 juvenile arrests in 2015, black and Latino youths made up 88% of those tried as adults, according to a study from the California Department of Justice.

On numerous occasions, we have written about Proposition 57 on this blog. The legislation took power to try children as adults away from prosecutors in 2016. However, black and Latino youths are still tried as adults at the same rate.

Probation Helps and Hurts Young People


While fewer young people are locked up, there are more than 39,000 youth on probation in California, according to the article. Probation gives kids more options, but the likelihood of violating terms is high. Violations often result in incarceration.

“Probation is a hidden secret of the juvenile justice system,” said Nate Balis, Director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group for The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “The proportion of kids put in probation remains the same year after year. It is quite similar to what it looked like with the overall approach in the 1990s. One thing to change is dramatically narrowing who ends up on probation. Kids with first offenses like shoplifting can end up on probation. We must be more discerning and divert far more youth from juvenile justice system.” 

Probation can be successful if young people are supported along the way. Expecting teenagers to fall in line after an arrest is wishful if they lack the resources to make necessary changes. We have to remember that teenagers who get in trouble with the law rarely come from stable homes. Bad influences are aplenty inside the house and out.

Reforms are only beneficial when they are in tandem with investments in the community. Diversion programs can give young people the tools to get back on track, stay in school, and avoid incarceration down the road.

California Juvenile Defense Attorney


Parents with a son or daughter facing legal trouble or school expulsion can benefit from seeking the help of juvenile defense expert. Having an experienced advocate in your family’s corner can pay off significantly.

Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you overcome your legal challenges.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Criminal Justice Bills Pass Hurdles

criminal justice
The California Assembly and Senate’s fiscal committees met to determine the fate of several criminal justice bills this month. At which time speedy mass-hearings commence, often without public knowledge, to decide the fate of legislation, according to Witness LA. This process allows lawmakers to support or kill bills without having to vote one way or the other.

Bills that would cost the state more than $150,000 go into what is called “suspense files,” the article reports. Each May, committees meet to decide which legislation will move forward or be left behind for the time being. Suspense files are legislative storage containers.

For instance, Assembly Bill 1182 did not get the green light. The bill would have reduced parole time for people convicted of certain crimes and lowered the parole-service requirement time.

Now that the fiscal committees have met, we will discuss some of the criminal justice reforms that passed the hurdle. The bills include Assembly Bills 1076, 680, and 1331; as well as, Senate Bills 114, 555, and 716.

Criminal Justice Bills that Survived


Assembly Bill 1076 automates the expungement process statewide so that people are not affected by records that should have been wiped clean already. According to the article, around two million Californians are eligible to have offenses removed from their records.

Assembly Bill 680 aims to reduce the criminalization of people living with mental illness. The bill also requires all 911 dispatchers to receive mental health intervention training. Assembly Bill 1331 seeks to expand California’s collection of criminal justice system-related data.

Senate Bill 114 seeks to do away with criminal justice system fees, including:
  • Probation and diversion
  • Collecting restitution orders
  • Processing
  • Drug testing
  • Incarceration
  • Medical
  • Sealing or expunging criminal records
Senate Bill 555 would reduce commissary and phone call costs for jailed people and their families. Finally, Senate Bill 716 mandates court schools to offer post-secondary classes or vocational courses for juveniles out of high school.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


If your child is facing legal trouble or school expulsion, then it helps to have a juvenile justice expert to serve as your advocate. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation. Attorney Walsh is committed to helping young people get to the other side of their difficulties with the least amount of impact on their lives.

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.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Expanding Ban On Willful Defiance Suspensions

willful defiance suspensions
School “disruption and defiance” is a subject we follow closely at The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Disruption is probably self-explanatory; willful defiance is defined as: “disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of school staff.” In the State of California, a 2014 law prohibits K-3 out-of-school suspensions for the above type of offense.

Since 2014, several lawmakers have come out in favor of expanding the ban on disruption and defiance suspensions. Many experts contend that removing kids from classrooms for disrupting class fuels what has come to be known as the “school-to-prison” pipeline. Moreover, the data indicate that these types of suspensions disproportionately affect blacks and Latinos, LGBT students, and students with disabilities.

“When you look at the data on who is suspended, you can’t help but see the stark reality,” Sen. Nancy Skinner tells EdSource. “Boys of color, kids in special education, LGBTQ kids — kids who don’t fit all of our cultural norms — are targeted due to the implicit bias that we know is present in every institution we have.”

In many instances, students are acting up because of family issues at home or untreated mental health issues. Extricating a student from the classroom or school entirely, for lengths of time, is unlikely to address the underlying problems the adolescent or teenager is facing. Expanding the ban on specific types of out-of-school suspensions could lead to more kids getting support and guidance. Alternative means of discipline could help children learn to cope with their issues healthily rather than acting out for attention.

Arguments For and Against Disruption and Defiance Bans


Those against expanding the ban of willful defiance suspensions argue that it strips teachers of the power to keep order and that it infringes on the other (disciplined) students right to learn without constant distraction. The camp for expansion say that suspending students for merely acting up puts them on a course to more problems, Education Dive reports. The divergent opinions on this subject will soon be in the spotlight once again, owing that is to legislation re-introduced by California State Sen. Nancy Skinner.

Last October, former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 607; a bill that would have expanded “disruption and defiance” out-of-school suspensions to include K-8. Sen. Skinner always wanted the ban to include K-12, but she didn’t believe Gov. Brown would support; so, she settled for a bill narrower in scope. Even still, Brown rejected the proposal. Now, with Brown out of office, Sen. Skinner hopes that Gov. Gavin Newsom will support her cause.

Senate Bill 419: Pupil discipline: suspensions: willful defiance would ban out-of-school suspensions for “defiant and disruptive behavior” in grades K-12. The bill, until January 1, 2025, would prohibit the suspension of a student in any of grades 9 to 12, inclusive, for those acts. The five-year period (sunset clause) will give officials time to determine the effectiveness of alternative discipline measures with high-schoolers.

“The point of the evaluation is to make sure that the removal of this tool (suspensions) is not impacting classrooms or teachers in a negative way,” Skinner said. 

The Governor’s office has yet to comment on SB 419.


Orange County School Expulsion Attorney


Juvenile defense attorney Katie Walsh can help your family navigate the school discipline process. If your child is facing school expulsion, then please contact us at your earliest convenience. Katie Walsh will work tirelessly to safeguard your child’s rights and seek alternatives to school expulsion for your son or daughter.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Mental Health, Expulsions, and School Shootings

school shooting
At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we are acutely familiar with the school-to-prison pipeline that is the reality of many young Americans. Problems students experience in the classroom are often dealt with in punitive ways, starting with suspension and potentially moving on to expulsion. In more severe cases, certain offenses committed at school can result in police intervention.

Schools lacking the resources to advocate for troubled children will usually turn to punitive measures. However, in states like California, there has been a push in recent years to address the needs of children who act up without resorting to suspension and expulsion.

Data shows that young people who face problems at home are likely to bring them into the classroom. Merely booting a child from class may return order to the school, but it is expected to disrupt the life of the child facing difficulties even more. Intervention techniques that don’t involve removing children from class can significantly help a struggling student; and, they may prevent a worst-case scenario from unfolding down the road. The reality is that many teenagers are dealing with myriad problems, including a mental health condition; kicking such teens out of the classroom can and has resulted in the unthinkable.

Preventing School Shooting In America


School shootings are not a new phenomenon; nor are they uncommon. From the Columbine High School shooting to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre last year, it is clear that these kinds of tragic events are on the rise. Today, it is difficult to think of a state that hasn’t been touched by student-on-student or student-on-teacher murder. Moreover, it is challenging to make sense of what could drive a young person to commit such heinous acts.

Experts work hard to look for answers in a sea of data that is murky at best. Those who bring a weapon to school with the intention to harm come from various backgrounds and face their own unique set of circumstances. Recently, NPR’s Rhitu Chatterjee probed the depths of school shootings in America—helping the average listener make sense of these senseless acts.

The radio program points out, right off the bat, that there were 25 school shootings last year; more than 60 people were injured, and 33 children and adults lost their lives in those incidents. We invite you to listen to the program below before reading further:


If you are having trouble listening, please click here.

Several experts weigh in in an accompanying article to the radio program. Some common things begin to emerge among people who shed blood in public schools, including childhood trauma and mental illness. What’s more, a 2004 study by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education found that nearly three-quarters of school shooters had been bullied or harassed at school. Chatterjee points out that suspending or expelling students who are showing worrisome signs is not the solution. Instead, school violence can be prevented by support and guidance.

“Connecting with these students, listening to them and supporting them, getting them the help they need, these researchers say, can help prevent future attacks and make schools a safer place for all children.”

School Expulsions Attorney


If your son or daughter is at risk of being expelled from school, then it is vital for parents to know that they have options. Attorney Katie Walsh has the experience to advocate for your family and potentially keep disciplinary action from derailing your child’s life. Please contact our office for a free consultation.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

California Juvenile Detention Centers Using Pepper Spray

juvenile detention
Pepper spray, like mace, is a non-lethal form of restraint that law enforcement agents utilize on a regular basis. The ingredients result in inflammation of the eyes and lungs, causing temporary vision loss and shortness of breath. Once disabled, officers are better able to restrain subjects. While the agent is less-than-lethal, there are instances when the chemical agent is a contributing factor in premature death.

In California, juvenile detention facility guidelines permit staffers to use pepper spray or oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, only as a last resort to de-escalate difficult situations, Los Angeles Daily News reports. However, a new report from the Los Angeles County’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) finds that officers are relying on pepper spray to subdue juveniles at an alarming rate, often using the lachrymatory agent unnecessarily.

The report was conducted at the behest of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Board). The call for an investigation came after revelations brought to light last year that incidents involving oleoresin capsicum spray in juvenile detention facilities skyrocketed more than 150 percent from 2015 to 2017. The OIG report cites instances of juveniles being subjected to OC and are then left in their rooms without assistance, forced to rely on toilet water to clean/remove the oleoresin capsicum from their skin and eyes.

Initial or Intermediary Force Option


According to the report, thirty-five states have banned the use of OC spray in juvenile facilities. California is just one of six states that allow the use of pepper spray on youths housed in detention centers. Such facilities include Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, Central Juvenile Hall, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Camp Ellison Onizuka, and Camp Ronald McNair. There are California counties that prohibit juvenile detention officers from deploying OC, encouraging the use of other de-escalation techniques instead, i.e., San Francisco County, Santa Cruz County, Marin County, and Santa Clara County.

The OIG report underscores the need for more de-escalation training, especially in Los Angeles County. Cathleen Beltz, assistant inspector general, said the goal is to reduce or eliminate the use of OC within LA County’s juvenile facilities. The investigators found consistent use of OC spray as an “initial or intermediary force option, rather than as one that follows a failure to de-escalate or the use of less significant force.”

“The fundamental issue here is not about the tools that staff use,” said Terri McDonald, LA County chief probation officer. “The question is, how can we create a culture or environment in which force is a rarity?” 

McDonald adds that the department will not tolerate “unnecessary or excessive force in our facilities…A single case of abuse of our youth is one too many.” The chief probation officer is not opposed to doing away with the use of OC, “But a change of this magnitude will require thoughtful analysis, planning, training, and potentially increased resources to ensure institutional safety.”

California Juvenile Defense Attorney


As a former juvenile prosecutor, attorney Katie Walsh has the experience and understanding of the law to advocate for your son or daughter who is facing legal trouble. Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh for a free consultation and to learn how she will use her expertise to defend and achieve a favorable outcome for your loved one.