Our weekly review of juvenile justice news here and abroad.
EXONEREE DIARIES: “Growing up in Humboldt Park, especially back in them days, back then as now, gang recruitment was so easy. The gangs would drive on kids like me. They knew my father had passed away. We lived in the neighborhood. My mom didn’t have money, so once my dad passed, they latched on to me. ‘We’ll take care of you. We’ll be your family.’ Kids were vulnerable.”
That’s the opening to this week’s installment of a new WBEZ series that follows “the stories of three Illinois exonerees through their wrongful convictions, releases and struggles to put their lives back together as free men.”
This entry follows Jacques, who “arrived to the security area of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center on a Saturday afternoon wearing gray-on-gray sweatpants and short sleeves. This and other track suits were his usual garb when he wasn’t suited in a delivery work uniform or free Northwestern University swag.
“For a few months, he had been mentoring young boys – some young men – in juvenile detention. The kids were waiting to appear in court.”
WAITING ON THE GOVERNOR: “SB2793 is sitting on Pat Quinn’s desk,” Jean Klasovsky wrote in the Sun-Times last Friday.
“He should sign it. This bill would make suspension and expulsion rates public and require the schools with the highest rates to create a school discipline improvement plan.”
* Klasovsky is a Chicago public school teacher advocating for restorative justice.
BULLDOZER BOB: “Robert W. Depke, a major political player who twice served as chairman of the Lake County Board, was nicknamed ‘Bulldozer Bob’ for his pro-development initiatives,” the Tribune reported Thursday.
“Mr. Depke, 84, who was Warren Township supervisor from 1961 to 1997, died Friday, June 27, at his Gurnee home. He had been ill for about a year.”
So what’s he doing in this column?
“The board named a new juvenile detention center in Vernon Hills the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Justice Complex after his surprising primary defeat in 1996.”
* The designation isn’t totally random; the Trib says that “in Warren Township, he is credited with helping establish a senior center and numerous programs for the area’s young people.”
HE WROTE THE BOOK: Western Illinois University law enforcement professor emeritus John Conrad, the co-founder of the WIU Department of Law Enforcement Administration, died July 6 in Macomb at the age of 77, the university announced Monday.
“He was the co-author of the text Juvenile Justice with colleague Steve Cox. The text, currently in its eighth edition, has been adopted by over 200 universities and remains a mainstay in law enforcement and criminal justice programs throughout the United States.”
DYNAMIC DUO: “Meet the Senate’s newest odd couple: Sens. Cory Booker and Rand Paul,” Seung Min Kim wrote for Politico on Tuesday.
“The duo of high-profile, first-term senators – one a New Jersey Democrat who came to Capitol Hill on Twitter-fueled national fame, the other a Kentucky Republican mulling a presidential bid in 2016 – will roll out legislation that comprehensively overhauls the U.S. criminal justice system.
“The measure, called the REDEEM Act, has several pillars: It encourages states to change policies so children are directed away from the adult criminal justice system; automatically expunges or seals – depending on their age – criminal records of juveniles who committed nonviolent crimes; and limits solitary confinement of children, except in rare circumstances.”
* Essentially, the legislation would codify on the federal level what we’ve been seeing trending on the state level. Also worth noting that libertarians and progressives share many policy goals.
See also coverage from The Chicago Bureau: “Bi-Partisan Senate Duo Seek Juvenile Protections in Justice System.”
SYRACUSE STATE OF MIND: “Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced [Thursday] that his office reached an agreement with the Syracuse City School District that will help reduce the high use of exclusionary discipline in the district,” the Long Island Exchange reported.
HAWAII’S PLAN: “Hawaii, where 75 percent of youths released from the state’s juvenile correctional facility are sentenced or convicted again within three years, is trying to crack down on recidivism,” the Washington Post reported Thursday.
“Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Thursday aimed at reducing the state’s juvenile facility population by over half in five years. HB2490 calls for justice system officials to write “reentry plans” before juveniles are released from correctional facilities and revises probation requirements.”
* The Post notes Hawaii is already spending the money it expects the measure to save.
IMMIGRATION COURT CLASS: “A coalition of civil rights groups filed a nationwide class-action suit Wednesday alleging that putting children into immigration court without counsel violates both constitutional due-process rights and immigration law,” The Center for Public Integrity reported.
“The plaintiffs in the suit filed in Seattle are eight children aged 10 to 17 who have resided in the United States for various lengths of time and are scheduled to appear in court, unrepresented, for deportation proceedings in the near future.
“Two of the minors, 13-year-old and 15-year-old Seattle siblings, saw their father gunned down by gangsters who objected to the father’s anti-gang rehabilitation center in El Salvador, according to the suit.”
CANADA VS. GITMO: “Alberta’s top court has granted an application by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr to be transferred to a provincial jail from a federal medium-security prison in the western Canadian province,” AP reported Tuesday.
“The Appeal Court has ruled the 27-year-old should be serving a youth sentence.”
“Khadr was a minor when the alleged crimes were committed; he was just 15 when captured on the battlefield, severely wounded,” the Toronto Globe and Mail wrote in a scathing editorial.
“That’s why the Alberta court ordered that as he continue serving his sentence in a Canadian prison, he be transferred from federal custody to a provincial facility. Under Canadian law, when the things he is accused of occurred, he was a kid. Under international law, he was a child soldier, more victim – of al-Quaeda and his own family – than accomplice.”
* The paper calls the military tribunal that convicted Khadr “a pantomime of justice” and a kangaroo court.
TRAUMA COURT: “A juvenile court in Salem has given an unusual punishment to a minor, who caused a road accident in 2012 that led to the death of a 50-year-old man,” the Times of India reported Thursday.
“The boy was riding his father’s auto-rickshaw in First Agraharam area in Salem when he knocked down a pedestrian, Selvam. Selvam, who suffered received severe head injuries, was rushed to Salem government Super Specialty hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
“Juvenile court judge J. Ambika directed the boy, now nearly 18 years, to serve in the Salem government super specialty hospital for a week. He should serve in the trauma ward from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and observe the pain and agony of those who meet with accidents and the suffering of their families, the judge said.”
EYE ON EGYPT: “More and more minors in Egypt are being detained for political reasons,” the Middle East Eye reported Wednesday.
“Many are eventually transferred to El-Marg juvenile detention center – notorious for its intra-detainee abuse.”