REFORMING JUVENILE DETENTION
Georgia’s Judge Steven Teske explains how he came to see that there was a better way to do things than locking all troubled kids up—which is when he embraced the Annie E. Casey Foundation Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI).
Here’s a clip from Judge Teske’s article for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange:
I did not get that help until 2003, after four years into the job–and it wasn’t in the form of money. My court joined over 100 courts from around the country to participate in the Annie E. Casey Foundation Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI). The JDAI model, along with the networking, taught me to think outside the box.
The foundation of any successful local juvenile justice system is leadership through collaboration, and JDAI helped us to realize this need. Something had to give, and that “something” was us! We had to stop pointing fingers and saying, “Its not my problem,” or coming up with social, legal, political and who knows how many other reasons our creative minds can conjure to excuse why we can’t be and do different for the good of our kids–and ultimately our community.
Judge Teske also recently met with LAUSD higher-ups and other County officials to work toward alternatives to zero-tolerance policies in schools.
It seems that LA County’s probation department hasn’t similarly reached out. Santa Cruz County and to some degree Orange County has embraced JDAI. Why hasn’t LA County?
The Washington Post’s Donna St. George wrote a great article last year on Judge Teske. It’s well worth your time if you haven’t read it.
CA KIDS CRIME RATES AT RECORD LOW
According to new figures released by the Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center, The 2011 California youth arrest rate was the lowest it’s been since the 1950′s, despite the youth population having jumped by three million kids since then.
Here’s a clip about what the new figures mean from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice:
California youth crime rose during the 1960’s, peaked in the 1970’s, and have generally plunged since. In fact, overall rates of youth crime, including all serious and violent offenses, have dropped by 50% since the 1970’s.
In particular, the decline of 100,000 in juvenile arrests over the last decade is notable because it occurred even as the youth population age 10-17 was rising by 200,000. The 36% drop in violent crime rates from 2000 to 2011 included all demographics: Latinos (down 36%), African Americans (down 10%), Whites (down 45%), Asians (down 62%), females (down 33%), and males (down 37%).
Looking at the most recent trend, reports from law enforcement agencies in all 58 counties show California’s youth arrests fell by 21% from 2010 to 2011. Juvenile arrests fell 17% last year, including drops in violent and property offenses (each down 16%), misdemeanor and status offenses (down 21%), and murder (down 26%).
Around 25% of the youth crime decline from 2010 to 2011 is attributable to a legislative change that reduced simple possession of marijuana from a crime to an infraction, which reduced youthful misdemeanor marijuana arrests by 9,000 last year. The remainder, however, appears to reflect a real decrease.
A new supplemental report from CJCJ goes into more detail on the crime drop, and gives possible explanations for the decrease. It’s an interesting read.
SCOTUS HEARS DRUG DOG CASES
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on when it’s okay to use drug-sniffing dogs, and what crosses over into Fourth Amendment territory as an unreasonable search and seizure. (For background on the two Florida drug-sniffing cases heard, go here.)
McClatchy News’ Michael Doyle has the story. Here’s a clip:
With a battery of pointed questions, justices voiced skepticism about a Florida Supreme Court ruling that imposed strict criteria for determining when a dog is qualified to help make a drug bust. At the same time, court conservatives joined liberals in suggesting that a police canine sniffing at the front door of a suspected drug house may be a search that triggers constitutional protections.
“It seems to me crucial that this officer went onto the portion of the house as to which there is privacy, and used a means of discerning what was in that house that should not have been available,” Justice Antonin Scalia said at one point.
The two cases heard separately Wednesday morning will help shape law enforcement agencies’ growing canine dependency. Twenty-four states – including Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Idaho – have sided with Florida law enforcement officials, noting in a legal brief that “drug-detecting canines are one of the essential weapons in the states’ arsenal to combat this illegal traffic.”
While tracking questions can lead court observers astray, a majority of the justices who spoke Wednesday sounded protective of the privacy inherent in a home. In a previous case that involved thermal imagers used to locate household marijuana-growing operations, the court said obtaining details of the home’s interior was a search that required a warrant under the Fourth Amendment. Similar reasoning could apply to a dog’s finely tuned nose, some justices hinted Wednesday.