LA COUNTY’S EXPERIMENTAL EDU PROGRAM FOR LOCKED-UP YOUTH MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN KIDS’ LIVES
In 2010, some of Los Angeles County’s juvenile camps had such a ghastly record for educating the kids in their care (or more properly not educating them) that the So Cal ACLU and others won a massive lawsuit against LA County Probation and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) forcing the two county agencies to get their collective act together.
Fast forward to 2014. Probation and LACOE are running a model educational program called the Road to Success Academy in its in girls’ camps—with startlingly good results.
By fall 2015, the Road to Success AcademY is expected to be in operation in half the county’s juvie camps.
Elly Yu at the Juvenile Justice Exchange has more on this and other educational programs for young people in lock-ups around the country that are making a difference in kids’ lives.
Here’s a clip:
When 17-year-old Moriah Barrett first entered Camp Scott, a juvenile detention facility in Los Angeles County, Calif., she was already far behind in school credits in completing the 11th grade. Because of her charges, she would be spending the next five months of her life at the all-girls’ facility — finishing high school wasn’t on her mind.
But at Camp Scott, Moriah enrolled at the Road to Success Academy, a public school run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and housed within the juvenile detention facility. She said it wasn’t like anything she had expected.
Instead of filling in photocopied packets like she did at juvenile hall, she was working on science projects that involved rockets or writing beats about the human skeletal system. She wrote self-reflective essays, painted murals, and met weekly with a counselor to check in on her credit status. Within five months, she was able to complete her GED.
“When I was at Road to Success, it was completely different. They had devoted teachers,” Moriah said. “You can see they’re caring. They don’t give up on you.”
The Road to Success Academy, which started in 2010 as a pilot project, is among a handful of schools across the nation that have been trying to turn the tide of poor education within juvenile justice facilities. Their models have included innovative ways of teaching, emphasis on higher education and the recruitment of high quality teachers.
ONE IN 25 DEATH PENALTY CONVICTIONS MAY BE WRONG
Since the advent of so many DNA innocence cases and other dramatic criminal exonerations in the last few years, many are increasingly haunted by the question of how many more innocent people are still serving long sentences but remain undiscovered. Even worse, have we executed innocent people?
A new statistical study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences attempts to quantify answers to those questions.
Pete Yost of the AP has the story. Here’s a clip:
About one in 25 people imprisoned under a death sentence is likely innocent, according to a new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that means it is all but certain that at least several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent, the study says.
From 1973 to 2004, 1.6 percent of those sentenced to death in the U.S. — 138 prisoners — were exonerated and released because of innocence.
But the great majority of innocent people who are sentenced to death are never identified and freed, says professor Samuel Gross of the University of Michigan Law School, the study’s lead author.
The difficulty in identifying innocent inmates stems from the fact that more than 60 percent of prisoners in death penalty cases ultimately are removed from death row and resentenced to life imprisonment. Once that happens, their cases no longer receive the exhaustive reviews that the legal system provides for those on death row.
LOW LEVEL DRUG OFFENDERS RELEASED EARLY DID NOT INCREASE RECIDIVISM SAYS STUDY
Last week’s Department of Justice announcement that it encourages petitions for clemency for some nonviolent drug offenders serving outsized sentences in federal lock-ups caused some Republican lawmakers to complain that public safety might be adversely affected.
It turns out, however, that in 2011, the U.S. Sentencing Commission did a study that examined whether drug offenders let out early were more or less likely to recidivate than those who served their full sentences.
And the difference in the two groups was….zero. (Actually, the people who served their full sentence were one percentage point more likely to reoffend.)
Ian Duncan of the The Baltimore Sun has more. Here’s a clip.
….the potential freeing of thousands of inmates is not completely unknown for the federal justice system — and advocates for shorter sentences say experience shows prisoners can be released without harming the public.
Previous changes to sentencing rules have led to early release for tens of thousands of inmates serving time for crack convictions. In 2011 the U.S. Sentencing Commission looked at what effect the changes had on ex-convicts’ likelihood of re-offending.
The study compared the recidivism rates of two groups of inmates. The first included crack offenders who had their sentences cut after a 2007 change to the rules. The second consisted of inmates in similar cases who had served their entire original sentence.
“The overall recidivism rates for the two groups are similar,” the report’s authors concluded.
The study found that among the group released early, 30 percent had re-offended within two years of getting out of prison. In the group that served full sentences, the rate was about 32 percent. The study found the difference not statistically significant.
For advocates of early release, like James Wyda, the federal public defender in Maryland, the finding is important because it appears to show prisoners can be released early without posing a greater threat to the public.
“We’ve granted so much sentencing relief and no one notices — not a story,” he said.
That opens the door to the possibility of cutting sentences further, Wyda added. “How far could you take these sentences down and still meet the purposes of punishment?” he asked.
AND WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF OUTSIZED MANDATORY MINIMUM DRUG SENTENCING….
CNN’S Wesley Bruer and Nick Valencia have this story. Here’s a clip:
“I did not really realize I was getting life until the date of sentencing. When my attorney told me, I told him that I wanted to take back my guilty plea… they denied me.”
Timothy Tyler says his life ended when he was 23-years-old. That was two decades ago, when he was arrested and later sentenced to a mandatory double-life term in prison without the possibility of parole for conspiracy to possess LSD with intent to distribute. A self-described “Deadhead,” Tyler was busted after mailing five grams of the hallucinogenic drug to a friend who was working as an informant for the federal government.
He’s had more than 20 years to fixate on that moment, years of “what ifs” and “whys.” More than 20 years of feeling like he died, until now.