In Case You Missed It: The Week In Juvenile Justice

Our weekly review of juvenile justice news here and abroad.

DO HEADLINE-GRABBING DRUG BUSTS WORK? “Last month was a rather victorious month for Chicago law enforcement agencies, with huge drug busts and jail sentencing dominating headlines,” Dong Jin “DJ” Oh reported for the Chicago Bureau on Thursday.

“On June 12, a joint operation by the Chicago Police Department, the DEA and the FBI indicted 27 individuals for dealing heroin and crack cocaine in North Lawndale. On June 30, Juan Amaya, a high-ranking leader of the Latin Kings street gang that plagued Little Village in South Lawndale with violence and drugs, was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

“The huge drug bust uprooted an entire ring of gang operations along 12 blocks north of Douglas Park that exposed the youth to the life of dealing and killing, as well as families to gangs’ victimization.”

But Oh says a haunting question remains: “Has one of the most successful drug takedowns in recent years actually made any difference in the streets?”

* You’ll have to click through to find out.

ORBIS ASSESSMENT TOOL: “Officials from around DeKalb County will begin training this week for a screening program designed to help rehabilitate delinquent youth,” the DeKalb Daily Chronicle reported Sunday.

“Orbis’ Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument is a tool already used by every probation department in the state. It determines whether children are at low, moderate or high risk of committing a crime and then recommends different services to help them turn their lives around.

“Several local police departments will now be using the same tool, thanks to a $81,200 one-year grant the DeKalb County Juvenile Justice Council received from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. The grant will cover the $15,000 four-day web-based training. Excess money will go toward the hiring of three part-time employees who will be trained in a more intensive assessment that involves working with the youths’ families.”

* Orbis’s motto: “Solutions for the helping professions.”

PAROLE REVOCATION: “A proposed consent decree that addresses issues regarding revocation of juvenile parole could go into effect as early as Jan. 1, 2015, if the decree gets approved by a judge,” Lily Oberman reported for the Chicago Bureau on Monday.

“A class-action lawsuit was filed in 2012 against the head of the Prisoner Review Board (which reviews parole revocation cases) and Governor Pat Quinn on behalf of all juvenile parolees facing the revocation process. After some discussion, both the plaintiffs and the defendants decided to work out a settlement, according to Alan Mills, the legal director of the Uptown People’s Law Center.

“The consent decree proposes that all juveniles facing revocation of their parole should be represented by a lawyer in front of the Prisoner Review Board, plus some other basic changes to the system, including the way that juveniles are informed of their alleged parole violations.”

* Click through for Oberman’s Q&A with Mills.

SAN DIEGO SON: “The parents of a teenage boy who committed suicide after being targeted by bullies filed a lawsuit against district where he attended school, alleging officials knew their son was being targeted but did nothing to protect him,” Jezebel noted Wednesday.

“Matthew Burdette’s parents are suing the San Diego Unified School District after a video of the teen masturbating went viral, leading to severe bullying that caused their son to take his life. The Burdettes allege school officials at University City High School where Matthew,14, attended knew about the video and the bullying yet did nothing to intervene.”

* Reading this story is pure heartbreak.

PRE-K JUSTICE: “The D.C. Council will consider banning out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for children in city-funded pre-kindergarten programs,” AP reported Monday.

“The District’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education has reported that 181 pre-kindergarteners were suspended or expelled in the 2012-2013 school year. By contrast, [council member David] Grosso says just 77 children in the state of Maryland were subjected to similar punishment.

“Grosso says he can’t imagine what sort of behavior would make suspension or expulsion appropriate punishment for a 3- or 4-year-old. He says students who get suspended usually end up in more trouble later.”

* Eight of 12 council members co-sponsored Grosso’s bill to ban such suspensions and expulsions.

MICHIGAN GIRLS COURT: “Nationwide, about a half-dozen or so of these courts exist,” the Flint Journal reported Wednesday.

“They are part of a bigger movement to recognize and crack down on the commercialization of sex crimes involving minors. By establishing a Girls Court here, the hope is to intervene with young girls who are trapped in a criminal underworld or are potentially vulnerable to it in the future.

“The court would flag girls coming through the juvenile justice system who are candidates for Girls Court. Then court officials would work to set the girls up with a network of resources and counseling tailored to steer them away from the sex trade.”

* Advocates are seeking a grant to fund the court, but say they’ll proceed regardless.

JUNEAU ROCK THROWING CASE: “When three Juneau teenagers pelted passing cars with rocks two summers ago, they didn’t learn until later that one of the rocks maimed and permanently disfigured a 6-year-old boy,” the Empire reported Thursday.

“Each expressed horror after hearing the news.

“In his sentencing hearing earlier this month, 19-year-old Jared H. Cheatham said he was disgusted with himself and couldn’t even look in a mirror. Chaleb E. Calandra, 20, broke down in tears during his sentencing last fall and profusely apologized to the boy and his family between sobs.

“The self-loathing continued Wednesday when the third and final teen, Noel Toribio, was sentenced for felony assault in connection to the July 2012 incident.”

* Witness the intense remorse of perpetrators who are also their own victims.

HERE COMES THE JUDGE: “Georgia Juvenile Court Judge Peggy H. Walker was sworn in Tuesday as president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges at its 77th annual conference in Chicago,” the Gainesville Times reported Thursday.

“Founded in 1937, the Reno-based organization is the nation’s longest-running judicial membership committee with a roster of nearly 2,000 judges and related professionals. The council aims to provide judges, courts and related agencies with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve the lives of families and children affected by the juvenile justice system and domestic violence.”

* Walker said she’s particularly interested in “rapidly developing child brain science.

EXECUTIONS IN IRAN: “The Iranian authorities must halt the execution of a young man who was still a child at the time of his alleged crime, and reverse a disturbing rise in the execution of juvenile offenders which has resulted in at least eight individuals being put to death in the first half of 2014, for crimes allegedly committed when they were below the age of 18,” Amnesty International said Wednesday.

“Iran is among a handful of countries that still execute juvenile offenders. Amnesty International has recorded at least eight juvenile executions in the first half of 2014 while it recorded none in the first half of 2013. The organization received reports of at least 11 juvenile executions for the whole of 2013.”

* The immediate subject of Amnesty’s concern was sentenced in 2010 to death.

ART APOLOGY PROGRAM: “An Australian-first program on the New South Wales north coast is trying a different way of breaking the cycle of crime among Indigenous youth,” the ABC reported Tuesday.

“It’s really the process for the young person to connect with a mentor, an adult, and spend some time reflecting on what they did and make a positive statement about how they feel about that,” Juvenile Justice conferencing officer Michael Pitt said.

* An apology for a misdeed, for example, may come by way of making a painting for the victim.

HOT READ: Not All Kids Are Equal: Central American Kids Get Court Dates, Mexicans Get the Boot.

MUST-READ, IF YOU CAN:Indian Girl’s Rape Called Case Of Eye-For-Eye Village Justice.”

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