CA BILL TO OPEN EDUCATION SUPPORT PROGRAM TO FOSTER KIDS LIVING WITH RELATIVES, WHO NEED JUST AS MUCH HELP AS THOSE IN NON-FAMILY RESIDENCES
CA Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) has introduced a bill that would beef up California’s Foster Youth Services program (FYS). FYS provides vital education-related support to foster kids through mentoring and tutoring services. FYS, which began as a pilot in 1973, had such favorable results, that it was expanded statewide 17 years later, in 1998.
FYS and Assemblymember Weber’s related bill target a population of kids who often struggle to finish high school (nearly half of foster kids do not).
FYS in its current form, only lends support to foster kids who are living with a non-relative foster family or in a group home. Foster children living with their relatives are not eligible for the program.
AB 854 would extend services to the 40,000 foster kids living with family members—that’s two-thirds of all CA foster youth—who do not actually have better graduation rates than kids in non-relative foster homes.
Anna Maier and Zefora Ortiz have more on the bill in a story for the Chronicle of Social Change. Here’s a clip:
A 2006 study conducted on behalf of the state legislature found that nearly half of foster youth (46 percent) drop out of high school—compared with 16 percent of non-foster youth—and less than 10 percent enroll in college.
“I feel strongly that I need the authority to serve students with the greatest need,” said Lustig.
The Foster Youth Services program began as a pilot in 1973 with four California school districts, and a 1981 statute formally established and funded FYS in the four pilot districts. In 1998, the state legislature expanded grant funding to county Offices of Education with an emphasis on serving students in group homes. The 2006-07 State Budget renewed existing FYS funding and provided additional grant money for county Offices of Education to serve a broader array of foster youth, including those in juvenile detention facilities. FYS programming looks a little different in each county. But in Mt. Diablo Unified (one of the original pilot districts), the approach is working. The program supports all foster youth, regardless of their placement type. The district partners with group homes, mental health providers and local universities in order to provide comprehensive support.
“We get to see kids who are smiling and feeling good about themselves,” said James Wogan, administrator of School Linked Services, which oversees FYS programming in the district. “Many people thought [these students] would need a higher level of placement, but they get support from their peers as well as us. The culture has really taken off here.”
Throughout the state, FYS programming is showing similarly positive outcomes. A California Department of Education report for the 2012-13 school year found that participating foster youth exceeded their 90 percent target rate for attendance, and more than 70 percent of students who received tutoring met their goals for academic growth. Less than one percent of participating foster youth were expelled from school, far surpassing the target rate of less than 5 percent expulsion.
LAPD CHIEF CHARLIE BECK DISCUSSES EZELL FORD, DISCIPLINE, AND MORE ON AIRTALK
On KPCC’s AirTalk, Patt Morrison (filling in for Larry Mantle), speaks with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck about the Ezell Ford case, officer discipline, and transparency.
The chief said he wished the department had more liberty to discuss disciplinary actions against police officers. Because of confidentiality rules, Chief Beck says his hands are tied. Beck will not be able to explain the discipline (nor the rationale behind the decision) the two officers involved in the death of Ezell Ford will receive.
“I must follow the law,” Beck told Morrison. “Now, we can have discussions about what would be a better way to regulate this but that won’t change how this will be regulated.”
Last week, after Chief Beck determined the officers acted within policy, the LA Police Commission determined that one officer acted outside of department policy throughout the confrontation that ended in the death of Ezell Ford in August. The other officer involved acted improperly by drawing his weapon the first time (the second was deemed justified), according to the commission.
For backstory, Ford, a mentally ill and unarmed man, allegedly grabbed for one of the officers’ guns during an “investigative stop” in South LA, and was shot three times by the two officers.
Here’s a clip from Chief Beck’s interview:
Chief, you and the commission are looking at the same set of guidelines, why is it that you found this to be in policy and the police commission didn’t? How could that happen?
CB: Well people, as I said, disagree on this topic all the time. Reasonable suspicion is a topic of contention in every criminal case in which it applies. This is not unusual for people to have different opinions on this and especially when you recognize that I see things through my experience, in my eyes, which is very different than theirs. That’s not to say who’s right and who’s wrong, but it is to say that I have strong reasons and strong beliefs in my opinion on this. I also have my role in the process and my role is to determine discipline if it applies to the employees involved and that has yet to come and I will absolutely do the right thing on that.
Do you have a deadline for that?
CB: You know, I have a personal deadline. I’m not going to reveal that because I don’t think it helps the discussion for a couple of reasons. One of which is that by state law, I cannot make public whether or not I discipline these officers and what that discipline was so to create an expectation that there is going to be some type of announcement based on a date point would be unreasonable.
Why no mention of the police commission in your message to officers?
CB: Well, it wasn’t intended to put forth a position for or against the officers by the commission. It was intended to do exactly what it did. It was intended to tell officers that they needed to continue to develop community support, that they had community support. I used myself as an example; I used the mayor as an example; I used the vast majority of Los Angeles as the other example. No intent to omit the commission. No intent to comment one way or the other about the commission’s support for the rank and file. I know all the commissioners very well, they’re good people. I believe that they were guided by what they thought was right. I am not disparaging them; that was not the intent of the video.
GOV. BROWN OKAYS $$ SETTLEMENT FOR THREE OF CA’S WRONGFULLY CONVICTED
On Wednesday, CA Gov. Jerry Brown approved nearly $1 million in settlements to be paid to three wrongfully convicted Californians.
A former Long Beach high school football star, Brian Banks, was cleared of a 2003 rape conviction in 2012 with help from the California Innocence Project. Banks spent six years falsely imprisoned. Once on parole, Banks met with his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, and secretly recorded Gibson admitting the accusation was false. Banks will receive $197,000.
Susan Mellen, who spent 17 years in prison after she was wrongfully convicted of murdering her boyfriend, will receive $597,200.
Ronald Ross was found factually innocent after being convicted in 2006 of assault and attempted murder. Ross will receive $229,000.
The LA Times’ Phil Willon and Patrick McGreevy have the story. Here’s a clip:
At the time, Banks insisted that their sexual contact was consensual. However, he took his attorney’s advice to plead no contest rather than risk being sentenced to 41 years to life in prison….
Banks, who as a high school player had caught the eye of coaches at USC, UCLA and other college football programs, tried out with the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons after his release from prison but was not signed. In 2014, he was hired by the National Football League to help monitor games for problem calls by referees.
Claims are filed with the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and automatically recommended to the Legislature for payment if the petitioner was wrongly convicted and found by a judge to be factually innocent.
US CRIMINAL JUSTICE MOVERS AND SHAKERS EXPERIENCE GERMAN PRISONS: DAY TWO
On Wednesday, we pointed to a tour of German prisons organized by the Vera Institute of Justice and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Seventeen criminal justice officials and experts are examining how Germany handles sentencing, juvenile justice, incarceration, probation, rehabilitation, and other areas of the criminal justice system.
The Marshall Project’s Maurice Chammah has committed to a daily tour journal. Day two found the travelers at Heidering Prison, where inmates can smoke, cook for themselves, wear their own clothes, and visit family. Inmates never spend more than eight hours in isolation. And corrections officers are trained more, paid more, and even knock before entering inmates’ rooms.
Here’s a clip from Chammah’s day two offering:
Though the prisoners cannot access the Internet, they have telephones in their rooms, and they can call anyone — even the media.
“We have nothing to hide,” Detlef Wolf, vice governor for Heidering Prison, said with evident pride.
As the tour took turns walking through the cell, I briefly met a 24-year-old prisoner named Bryan Meyer. He was wearing his own clothes—cargo shorts, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a black baseball cap. One of the most visually striking aspects of German prisons is how prisoners wear regular street clothes. It adds to the sense that the only thing being denied them is their liberty.
Administrators here freely work terms like “human rights” and “dignity” into speeches about their prison system, and Germans appear to view people who commit crimes as medical patients (the word “prognosis” came up a lot to describe the status of an inmate). There is little stigma after prisoners finish their sentences — employers in Germany generally do not ask job applicants if they have a criminal record, according to Michael Tonry, a University of Minnesota professor on the trip who’s studied corrections systems in the U.S. and Europe. In some cases, the cultural norms were so foreign that it was pretty much impossible to imagine them taking root in the U.S.
Once the shock wore off, the questions came, and they reflected the political and professional concerns of those doing the asking. Many of the leaders here who have been elected or appointed — including Marcantel of New Mexico and Jeff Rosen, the elected district attorney in Santa Clara, California — wanted to know about victims. Do their desires for retribution play any role in sentencing here? (In the U.S., they are often allowed to read “victim impact statements” before juries assess punishment, and prosecutors often consult with them). Do sensational murders lead to the passage of more punitive laws?
The Germans had trouble making sense of these questions. There were a lot of blank stares. In Germany, prosecutors and judges are not elected. As career civil servants, they are insulated from public opinion. Their work is more “technical,” said Gero Meinen, who directs the prison system in Berlin. The role is to protect the rational system of correction — which aims to restrict freedom the least amount necessary — from the retributive impulses that individual victims and society in general might feel.