Wednesday, 29 June 2011

“Harlem’s Sweetheart,” 17-Yr Old Girl Gets 90 Days for Involvement with Violent Crack Gang

by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World via @socializeWP 
Harlem’s 17-year-old Afrika Owes,  named “Harlem’s sweetheart” by her mother, was arrested February 16th for her involvement with a violent crack gang called “137th Street Crew.” According to reports from, “Owes spent two months in jail before the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church posted $25,000 bail.”
Although Owes will not be privileged to escape punishment, she has received an unusual “gift” from the Manhattan courts. Expected to plead guilty to conspiracy and weaponry charges at her July 7th court hearing, she already started her 90 days in Rikers Island prison on Tuesday. The latter is to allow her to be out of jail early in the school year. Perhaps this is the result of her church’s prayers.
click to read

Teen in jail says gang is no substitute for family

I'm a 16-year-old gangbanger looking at spending the rest of my life isolated in a little bird cage. Every day I ask myself the same question. Was it really worth throwing my life away? All I did was help a "homeboy" from getting hurt. I got caught and was convicted on eight charges that led to more than four consecutive life sentences. That ain't no joke! The sad part of it is that the so-called homeboy turned his back on me when I needed him most. I should've pulled away when I could've.
The main reason for this letter is to help parents and teens like myself who are choosing the wrong path to realize what you're getting into while there is still time. Tell parents out there, if you see your kid is messing up in school, using drugs, hanging with the wrong crowd, anything that would lead to gang affiliation, reach out and help them while you still can before they're in too deep. They (teens) turn toward gang life in search of the love they need from their family. Or they want to fit in and be cool.
To all the gangbangers who think you're cool and being a gangster, get away from it while you still can. It may be fun at the moment, but it's not when you get caught and you have to spend the rest of your life behind bars. There's better things to do in life than hang around all day frying your brain from all the drugs and alcohol. Trust me, when you're behind bars thinking about what you did, you'll be missing your family the most. You think your homeboys are going to be there for you? Well, let me tell you this ... they're not! I guarantee you that the only people who are actually willing to change places with you are your parents. Your real family. Do you think your homeboys want to do time for you? Hell, no!
I hope this letter helps some people out there. I just want to make a contribution to society before I get locked up in the dungeon forever. This is to show you not all gangbangers are evil and cruel. Life is short. Live it smart, not stupid. Now I can finally answer the question I ask myself, "Was it all worth it?" The money, the girls and all the material things go faster than you think and could all be taken away with the snap of a finger from the split second of a decision you make. It's not worth your life.
You write well and your letter contains a powerful message. I'm printing it without editing. Let your experience be a warning to others. I hope from the sad circumstances of your life some other young person will realize that a gang is a poor substitute for a family and the path to success does not stop at the street corner.
If a troubled young person is in school, he or she should talk to a counselor. If there is a church nearby, talk to a priest or minister. There are alternatives to joining a gang, but you need to reach out.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Blade Reed:

Appeal From Steve Sydebotham - Juvenile Advocate of Blade Reed

During a recent examination, Blade has been verified to be Autistic, suffering from PTSD,among a host of other Developmental Disabilities.
We are in the process of securing expert witnesses for upcoming court appearances in regards to Blade. These witnesses cost money,
and we need your financial help, so that they can be secured, and give Blade the best chance of getting a reversal of his sentence.
For thoise of you who are interested in helping out, via money order and or checks,Please make them payable to:

Blade Reed - minor UGMA On the back of your check please write "for deposit only" acct# 2121278267 and mail to:

Blade Reed Trust Fund

C/O Ally Bank

P.O. Box 13625

Philadelphia, PA 19101

Every dollar raised, will go to the above porpose.

Thank You,

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Cape May County sheriff hopes new jail program will keep juvenile offenders on the outside

By MICHAEL MILLER, Staff Writer 

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE - Life in the Cape May County jail is pretty grim. Inmates get few amenities in this environment of cinderblock and steel. Even the meals are a constant reminder of the bleak surroundings.
"You don't get a plate. You eat right off the tray, which is carved out in pieces for the different foods. It's a different experience," Sheriff Gary Schaffer said.
The Sheriff's Office is launching a new program this summer to give youthful offenders a taste of life at the jail in hopes that the experience will persuade them to stay on the straight and narrow.
Called "Jail - It's not for me," the program makes juvenile offenders ages 13 to 17 spend the day as a jail inmate, complete with orange jumpsuit, plastic flip-flops and time alone behind bars. Starting in July, the offenders will be referred to the program by local judges, police chiefs and school resource officers.
Unlike other juvenile-intervention programs, such as the famous "Scared Straight" programs from the 1970s, juveniles will not have any direct contact with inmates.
Schaffer said research has called into question the effectiveness of these shock-style programs. But he thinks giving teenagers a taste of jail life unembellished by the over-the-top stunts associated with "Scared Straight" will prove effective.
"They're not going to have any face-to-face contact with inmates," Schaffer said. "The Youth Services Commission when we met with them had some statistics on recidivism rates. The Scared Straight programs didn't work."
Schaffer's staff presented the program to local judges, police chiefs and the youth advocates, all of whom supported the idea. The Sheriff's Office is the only county agency in South Jersey employing this kind of program.
"I think it will be effective," said Pat Devaney, director of the Cape May County Department of Human Services and the co-chairwoman of the Youth Services Commission. "The outcomes of Scared Straight are not ranked very positively. It demonstrates that it's not a barrier to recidivism."
But the Cape May County program's focus on counseling makes it superior to other kinds of jail introductions for juveniles, she said.
"It has a lot of skill-set building," she said. "It will show them the consequences of their behavior."
Middle Township Police Chief Chris Leusner said the program holds promise to help young people make better decisions.
"There are definitely juveniles we deal with who you can tell will commit crimes as adults," he said. "You don't see any reason why it's going to change for them as an adult. A program like this offers hope and an opportunity to change that trajectory."
A 2003 study by the national nonprofit research group WestEd found that these crime-deterrent programs had the opposite intended effect on the juveniles who participated.
Researchers examined nine studies of juvenile-awareness programs and found that the control group of troubled juveniles who did not participate committed fewer crimes over time than those who attended the program.
The reasons for this discrepancy are not clear, study author and WestEd senior researcher Anthony Petrosino said.
"There's an idea called peer-contagion theory. If you put a bunch of kids together and some are prone to crime, they will influence other kids to get involved in criminal behavior," he said. "Since these programs bring kids in as groups, maybe there is something in that."
Petrosino said public agencies such as the Cape May County Sheriff's Office can't just assume that since these programs intuitively should have some positive effect that they will.
"You would love to see that program work. If it worked, what a crime solution it would be. But unfortunately our review doesn't support that," he said.
Schaffer said his office plans to chart the program's effectiveness on offenders across different categories over time.
Lower Township police Capt. Brian Marker said he envisions the program helping teenagers accused of criminal mischief, thefts or shoplifting.
"We believe it's a well-rounded program and one that will support its goals," he said.
The Sheriff's Office will provide resources to help parents, who must provide permission for their children to participate.
"Some parents have no idea where to turn," Schaffer said.
The young offender will be picked up in a jail van at their local police department. From there they will be taken to the jail, where they will don a prison jumpsuit and eat a jail breakfast. Then they will tour the jail and spend 30 minutes in a cell before getting a jail lunch.
Sheriff's Office staff will talk to the juveniles about the potential consequences of gang affiliations, drugs and alcohol. The juveniles finish the day by filling out a questionnaire about their experience.
"One of the questions is, ‘Do you think you could spend one to two years of your life living like this?'" Schaffer said.
Schaffer said he hopes the answer is a resounding no. But in a county jail that gets more than 300 new inmates each year, that might be wishful thinking.
Contact Michael Miller:

Justice for Christopher Lee Ratliff

Where is the Justice for Christopher Lee Ratliff His Mom Geneva Maynard said ;I have 3 conflicting statements,one officer tried to say'wasn't there'the other say,all of them were, another say he threw a few distractionary blow to the back and leg,I know these guys are known as cowboys by city council,I call them murd...erers,my son was sitting in a passenger car seat with a seatbelt on,holding on for dear life,but they pulled him out by his feet continue beating and kicking.He thought they were his buddies, but killed him instead

Friday, 24 June 2011

Lift Children Out of the Criminal Justice System – Don't Lock Them Away

by Ezekiel Edwards, Criminal Law Reform Project, & Tanya Greene, ACLU via @aclu 
What kind of person looks into the face of a child and sees no hope? What kind of society locks up children as if they were adults — and sometimes even throws away the key? Unfortunately, ours does. As a case in point, Kansas City prosecutors are currently mulling over whether to charge a five-year-old child for the murder of an 18-month old. Just think — murder charges for a little girl who has not yet even entered first grade!
In Jacksonville, a "baby-faced" 12-year-old is being tried as an adult for murder and is currently being held in solitary confinement in an adult facility. In Michigan, at the unbridled discretion of the prosecutor, a 14-year-old can be charged and tried as an adult for first-degree murder (even if the child did not commit the murder itself), and, if convicted, sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (or, as one judge in Wisconsin appropriately called it, "death in prison") without a judge or jury ever even having the slightest opportunity to consider the child's age. The ACLU is challenging Michigan's juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) scheme.
Staggeringly, there are over 2,500 people in the United States imprisoned forever for crimes committed when they were children. The United States is the only country in the world that sentences youth to die in prison. We are also one of only two countries (the other is Somalia) which have refused to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits life without parole sentences. In 2006, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for an end to JLWOP; the only dissenting country was the United States. Already we have a human rights catastrophe on our hands by incarcerating more people per capita than any country in the world; we have created another by our criminalization of children.
Beyond serious crimes, in many states juvenile offenders are regularly prosecuted as adults even for petty misdemeanors. In Wyoming, for instance, 85-90 percent of all kids charged with a misdemeanor offense are tried as "adults."
We are cheating our children and ourselves. As the Supreme Court recently stated, "children cannot be viewed simply as miniature adults," and in most situations are not. Kids cannot drive, sit on juries, enter contracts, join the military, smoke, drink, marry, or hold political office. But, when it comes to matters of crime and punishment, the differences between children and adults are too often ignored.
Our priority as a civilized society should be to protect and nurture our children. Clearly, a child who offends has problems. In responding to those problems, however, it makes far more sense to proceed with the goal of treatment and rehabilitation at the forefront of our minds. Despite their misbehavior and criminal acts, if anyone deserves a second chance, it is a child.
Learn more about JLWOP: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Petition asks attorney general to uphold Jordan Brown's rights

By Melissa Higgins.

A new petition asks Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly to uphold 13-year-old Jordan Brown's constitutional rights.
The petition, which is duplicated on two separate websites, outlines the ways in which Jordan Brown's constitutional rights have been violated since his introduction into the American justice system over two years ago. Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Superior Court overheard arguments that Judge Motto failed to recognize Jordan's Fifth Amendment right regarding self-incrimination when he refused to waive the child's case to juvenile court on the grounds that Jordan had not confessed to the murders of Kenzie Houk and her unborn son. Jordan has maintained his innocence since his arrest in 2009 when he was 11 years old. The petition highlights the lengthy delays in the criminal justice process. Though the Superior Court remanded Judge Motto's decision back to county court in March, the judge has not yet rendered a new decision. No explanation for the delay has been given. The next scheduled hearing date is on August 5th. By this time Jordan will have been incarcerated for two and a half years. Pennsylvania's Rule 600 states that a person is required to receive a trial within one year of being charged with a crime such as homicide. As Jordan Brown awaits Judge Motto's decision on the matter of decertification, the prosecution has announced they would move the case to juvenile court if Jordan admits to the murders. This comes on the heels of the Superior Court's ruling that requiring the boy to do this is in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. It was this action on the part of the Attorney General's office that prompted the release of the petition asking them to reassess Jordan's case and cease infringing on the rights that the office has taken an oath to protect. The real question is: Do petitions work? provides the global community with an online platform for seeking change within their communities. The web-site gives information about petitions that have successfully brought about change. Petitions with as few as 567 signatures have helped to urge governor's to pass bills. Some petitions have had ambitious objectives, such as funding vaccinations for as many as 4 million children over the next five years, while others simply seek to save local programs that have proven beneficial to a particular segment of the population. The success stories are inspiring. Signing and sharing petitions makes a difference. Petitions allow people to get involved in change by simply signing their name to a cause. In Jordan's case, people from all around the world have already begun to rally. One petition signer wrote: "Whether he committed the crime or not every U.S. citizen, regardless of age, etc. and regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent has the right to a fair and speedy trial by an impartial says so in the sixth amendment of the constitution." Individuals in support of Jordan Brown believe that people should take an interest in his petition for many reasons. First, they believe that a number of his constitutional rights have been ignored. Second, they believe that people need to know that Jordan has friends and family who support him and believe in him. He has a father and family members who believe in his innocence, his rights, and they want him to come home. Finally, as a poster named Marie on a discussion board relating to Jordan's case wrote:
"As far as getting people to notice the petition and care enough to sign it, I think that people need to understand why it is so very important. If we take an instant snap shot of what is going on around us, you will notice Americans are more interested in signing a petition to allow the Saudi women to drive, than to help children in prison. Why do you think this is happening? While I am not certain, I think that people assume that children are taken care of. They assume the justice system would never wrong a child. They assume the child is guilty, therefore, do not really take the time to inquire about the case and the injustices that occur with our children."
Jordan's petition is available on and the Petition Site. The petitions have 579 signatures since the publication of this article. If you would like to help this petition succeed, the web-site in support of Jordan Brown provides tips on how to help.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Humane Treatment for Blade Reed Petition

Steve Sydebotham


  This petition is created in support of age and developmentally appropriate humane treatment of 14 year old, Blade Reed, currently housed in the adult maximum security prison, Wabash Correctional Facility, (Carlisle) Indiana. In December 2009, after pleaing guilty to robbery resulting in severe bodily injury, Blade was sentenced, as an adult, to serve 30 years with violent offenders and sexual predators. It is important to note that Blade is the youngest inmate at Wabash, also almost immediately after the crime, Blade accepted responsibility and displayed extreme remorse for his actions on that fateful day and has continued to do so, ever since. As fellow United States citizens, it has come to our attention that Blade Reed has been issued to serve over an entire year in disciplinary solitary confinement after having been involved in three known altercations in the adult prison of which this child has been placed. To our knowledge, this means Blade will be expected to survive being locked in solitary confinement with no other human interaction inside a small cell for 23 hours every day for one whole year or more. Under Indiana law, each inmate forced into disciplinary solitary confinement, is released for only one hour per day of which during that hour he will need to shower and minimally exercise. It is unclear, at this point, the conditions of this child's education. Also,there is no guarantee that this one hour will be granted, each day, as a provision exists its implimentation is dependant upon the security status of the overall facility.Exasperating this child's plight is the liklihood this child suffers from undiagnosed mental disabilities. After reviewing court documentation from the court appointed psychologist's evaluation of Blade and from further consultation, it is expert opinion that Blade Reed may suffer from "Asperger's Syndrome/Autism Spectrum, and/or Bipolar Disorder" and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was the court appointed psychologist's opinion and testimony to the court, Blade Reed "had the social skills of a 10 year old", and that "97% of kids his age, were more socially adept then he was". The psychologist also testified  "if Blade develops in an adult center (prison) he will be negatively influenced by other (older) inmates". During his evaluation it was discovered Blade had been severely abused by his biological parents through age 6 and also suffers from ADHD, but had been taken off his medications.In addition, Blade continues to suffer from depression and anger issues resulting from the traumatic (sexual, physical and mental) abuse he endured throughout his entire formative years by the ones who were responsible for shaping the character of this young child.This petition hopes to achieve these goals:1) To have Blade Reed professionally evaluated and treated for possible undiagnosed mental disablilities,2) To re-examine and overturn the assignment of one year in disciplinary solitary confinement  for a replacement of a more humane discipline for Blade Reed ,3) To re-assign Blade Reed into an age and developmentally appropriate program, whereas, he would receive much needed psychological care, education and life skills training through counseling.These changes of his living conditions are crucial for him to be capable of becoming the sane, emotionally stable, and productive member of society he will need to be upon his future release. The adult system is geared towards punishment, the juvenile system fosters rehabilitation. Please, will you help this American child not to be forgotten and left in cruel and unusual conditions?We believe in our US Constitution and in our children...our future.

 For those of you who would like to sign this petition please  Click Here  


                                                                                                           Other Facts


Blade Reed, 13, faced nine criminal charges:
Murder. Attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, all Class A felonies.
Burglary and aggravated battery, both Class B felonies:
Battery with a deadly weapon, a Class C felony:
Two counts of theft, both Class D felonies:

Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver
Defense Attorney James Roberts (public defender)
Brown County Circuit Judge Judity Stewart

In November, 2009, Blade's public defender said that he would agree to a plea deal if Blade was placed in Pendleton Juvenile until 18, then be placed in the adult system.
Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart stated she could not agree to that as it was up to the IDOC as to where Blade would be placed, and the law does not allow that placement.
Date: December 7, 2009
At age 14, Blade pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and robbery resulting in serious injury.
Blade was sentenced to 30 years incarcerated in the ADULT maximum security prison, Wabash Correctional Facility, Carlisle, Indiana.
His brother, Bennie Reed, received a 60-year sentence for murder and aggravated assault.

Blade told his 78-year-old victim he was sorry, that he wished he had never gone to her house that night, that he would take it all back if he could.
The 13-year old had told police he didn’t want to take the woman’s life.

Blade has was not incarerated with kids close to his own age-but offenders much, much older than him.

In addition, at the time of Blade's placement at Wabash on 12/23/2009 the youngest inmate there was age 16. Currently Blade is the 3rd youngest inmate serving a sentence at Wabash. The youngest inmate serving an adult sentence in the state of Indiana is Paul Gingerich (12) (Kosciusko County) Currntly at Pendleton Juvenile.
While serving time in the juvenile wing, it is mandatory that all offenders go to school until graduation or GED has been fulfilled.
Blade was not placed in the juvenile wing and it has not been mandatory for him to attend school classes or GED classes.
Per a letter from Blade to his mentor, dated 3/16/2010,  he wrote he did "go to school occasionally", but did not elaborate.
In a letter to his mentor, dated 4/10/2010, Blade stated (at that time) he was attending class "3 times a week for an hour".

Number of attacks: 5.
After being attacked by other Much Older prisoners on three seperate occasions, resulting in severe bodily injury and requiring medical attention and lengthy stays in the prison infermary, Blade was placed in disciplinary solitary confinement for a period of 1 year.
While serving in dsc, Blade Reed is held in a small cell with no human interaction, no television, no radio, for 23 to 23 1/2 hours per day, every day dependent upon security at the prison . On some occasions, he may not be released for days. 
For the entire year in dsc, ALL priveledges are taken including: visitation from family and friends, restricted mail, little recreation, no TV or radio priveledges, also restricted commissary usage and items. Wabash staff contacted the adopted mother to state she would not be allowed to visit Blade for a period of one year due to his incarceration in dsc. He would be allowed one phone call once every two weeks." His adoptive mother notified his mentor by phone.
Most of Blade's good time from day one was TERMINATED reamending his earliest possible release of January 2029.
Blade has attempted suicide on NUMEROUS occasions, also resorted to cutting himself with any navailable sharp object. The suicide rate among youthful offenders serving in adult facilities are much greater than those serving in juvenile facilities.


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Group Protests Boy's Adult Murder Charge New Black Panthers Call State Attorney's Move An Injustice

The New Black Panthers organization is outraged that a 12-year-old boy charged with murder is being charged as an adult.Cristian Fernandez is accused of killing his 2-year-old half-brother.The organization protested outside of the state attorney's office Friday, saying Fernandez should not be charged as an adult. Group members said doing so is an injustice by the state attorney's office.Members said they were taking a position Friday, asking for State Attorney Angela Corey to be removed from her position.Group members said Fernandez shouldn't be charged as an adult because he has a history of abuse in his family. They said the court system has failed the boy, adding that he needs help, not spend his life in prison."We believe that he should be put in Juvenile Court," said Mikhail Muhammed, of the New Black Panthers. "This is a child who's obviously had mental and emotional problems. So we believe that Angela Corey is abusing her power." A gag order has been issued in the murder case, so the state attorney's office cannot comment on the protest.Corey has said in the past that she considers Fernandez to be a danger because of his history. She said by charging him as an adult, she is helping protect the community."We were not comfortable, based on his history and the events surrounding how he killed his 2-year-old brother, that we cold protect anyone he was around," Corey said when the indictment was announced earlier this month. "The juvenile system does not give us sufficient options or enough time. We would have lost jurisdiction over him in about eight and a half years."Police said 2-year-old David Galarriago died of blunt-force trauma. According to a petition filed with the court by DCF, the toddler suffered "abusive head trauma, a swollen brain, a broken nose, retinal hemorrhaging, bruising to the face, hips and back, a healing tibia, femur fracture and possible healed arm fracture."DCF is conducting a post-death investigation to determine if everything possible was done to protect the safety of the children.Fernandez's next court appearance is scheduled for July 21.

An event never seen before at the D.C. jail: a high school graduation

It was the quintessential June scene: balloons, banners, “Pomp and Circumstance,” grandma in a wheelchair, the graduate scanning the crowd to wave to his dad.
The only thing missing? Cameras. You can’t bring cameras into the D.C. jail.
So the Department of Corrections had its own photographer there to record the event. That was just one of the logistical snarls the jail had to untangle to stage this unprecedented event: a high school graduation behind bars.
The jail was put in this unusual position by a very determined 17-year-old named David Williams, the first kid to earn a D.C. public school diploma while locked up.
We’re not talking GED or jailhouse trade classes.
No, David Williams did the same algebra and chemistry and biology as the kids over at Eastern or Banneker or Wilson did. He wrote essays in his bunk while the guys around him yelled and fronted and posed and beefed.
“There were a lot more distractions here than on the outside,” he told me after switching his tassel and posing for the corrections photographer with his dad, who was anxious to hug him after the body scanner, the pat-down, the security escort and all the waiting.
I asked his dad whether it was okay that I put his son’s name in the paper.
“He was in the paper when he got in here, so it’d be great to get him in there now,” said Willie Williams, 47, who owns a carpet cleaning business and tried so hard to keep his son from running with the wrong crowd that he switched him to a charter school a couple years ago.
“He was doing so good in school, but he was acting up outside. I’ve never been in jail, so it broke my heart when this happened,” Williams told me. His son was arrested and convicted for armed robbery when he was 16.
“He was so afraid,” Williams said. “The schoolwork saved him.”
David gets out in July. He’s applying to colleges but probably will start out at the University of the District of Columbia. He wants to major in history and maybe become an archaeologist, he told me. His diploma will say Friendship Collegiate Academy, where he was an 11th-grader when he was arrested.
The Correctional Treatment Facility now has a full-blown school inside its walls where kids such as David — most of the juveniles are 16 or 17 and were charged as adults for crimes that usually involved a weapon — take a full load of high school classes. They have math, history, science and English teachers.
Up until now, Principal Soncyree Lee had to deal with some unusual challenges, including setting up anger management classes, getting enough pens that can be used inside the jail (felt tip only) and keeping the curriculum varied enough to match all the grade levels. But not something like a graduation.
What would the school colors be? (They chose blue and gold.)
What would the theme be? (To Catch a Rising Star.)
How would they make that cement-block room happy? (Stripes of royal blue painter’s tape!)
David was the lone graduate. But along with his valedictorian speech, the ceremony included 30 other inmates getting awards in their classes.
Guys with tattoos jumped up and smiled as they were cheered for receiving certificates for citizenship and history and chemistry.
It was one of the few times in these past few years that Kenya Worthy has had a positive interaction with her 17-year-old son. “It’s been nothing but conflict and tough love,” said Worthy, 40, who stood up and cheered “I love you!” when her son received a biology award.
Last time she saw him, he was in court being sentenced for armed robbery.
It took but a few seconds after the last award was given for the youths in orange jumpsuits on the right side of the room and the parents, girlfriends, grandmothers and a few small children on the left side of the room, to spill into each other’s arms.
Moms hugged their boys and smeared lipstick on their cheeks. A girlfriend with huge false eyelashes necked with a boy in a corner.
Amid all the reunions, in the middle of the room in his dark suit, David’s father looked him right in the eyes. “Now don’t you mess this up,” he told him.
Then, suddenly, the celebratory vibe in the room dampened as corrections officers gathered, and those in orange had to be separated from those in denim, dresses and suits.
“I can’t believe it. Lockdown. Of all days,” one young man said.
“I’m sorry, folks, if you could please sit down,” one of the corrections officials said over a microphone. “We have to remember where we are.”
And then it was over. They lined back up, inmates again, the officers doing a head count as they marched them back out of the room. The metal doors clanked behind them.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Torey's Story -

Torey Michael Adamcik was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder, despite the lack of any physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Torey's Story - Introduction

Torey had just turned sixteen years old and was looking forward to his junior year in high school. He was a fun loving, caring, and creative kid, who got along well with others, had no history of violence and no criminal record. He is well liked by his teachers and classmates. He loved movies and dreamed of going to film school. Read more about Torey
Torey had recently met Brian Lee Draper in a class at school. Brian also liked movies and he and Torey were going to write a movie script together. They never got far with that, but six weeks into their friendship Brian began filming a video tape depicting two teenage killers. Torey participated thinking it was all an act. About the videotape
On September 22, 2006, Brian murdered their friend and classmate, Cassie Jo Stoddart. Five days later Torey and Brian Lee Draper were both arrested and charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Torey adamantly denies that he killed Cassie or had any knowledge that Brian was going to kill her. Brian has confessed. The DNA evidence supports Torey's story. Both boys were found guilty of both charges. Read more about the legal case. Get the facts.
Unlike Torey, Brian had an extensive history of violence and depression, and had been planning to kill for at least two years. Read more about Brian Lee Draper.

State court to review long sentences for teens via @sfgate

 SAN FRANCISCO -- The state Supreme Court has agreed to review a 16-year-old's 110-year prison sentence for three attempted murders and decide whether juveniles convicted of crimes other than homicide are constitutionally entitled to a realistic chance at parole.
The court voted unanimously Wednesday to take up an appeal by a gang member convicted of shooting at three members of rival gangs, and wounding one, in Palmdale (Los Angeles County) in June 2007.
The teenager, Rodrigo Caballero, testified that he had been trying to kill them. He was tried as an adult, and his sentence would not make him eligible for parole until he was 122 years old, his lawyer said.
The state's high court will review only Caballero's prison term. The issue is whether it violates standards that the U.S. Supreme Court set last year when it overturned a 16-year-old's sentence of life without parole in Florida for an armed burglary and a probation violation.
The high court said a minor's no-parole sentence for any crime except murder or manslaughter violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment by denying the youth a chance to show rehabilitation.
Caballero's lawyer argued that the same reasoning should apply to a sentence so long that it guarantees the minor will never be released. The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles disagreed in January, saying the Supreme Court barred only sentences that explicitly deny all possibility of parole.
Otherwise, a youth who shot multiple victims "could not receive a term commensurate with his or her guilt if all the victims had the good fortune to survive," the appeals court said in a 3-0 ruling.
Caballero's lawyer, David Durchfort, said Thursday that the Supreme Court's rationale in barring no-parole sentences - that juveniles are less mature, less responsible and less culpable than adults - should also apply to sentences that give a youth no realistic chance for parole.
After serving some time in prison, perhaps 12 or 15 years in Caballero's case, "these kids should be allowed to show their worth and (have) an opportunity to re-enter society," Durchfort said.
The case is People vs. Caballero, S190467.

E-mail Bob Egelko at
This article appeared on page C - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, 13 June 2011

Juvenile inmates often isolated nearly 24 hours straight

Tim Pearce/Flickr
Juvenile inmates at California correctional facilities have been held in isolation nearly 24 hours straight on hundreds of occasions this year, in violation of state regulations.
An audit by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in March found multiple facilities operated by the Division of Juvenile Justice kept youth prisoners deemed a threat in their cells for all but 40 minutes a day. Auditors found Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, to be the worst offender.
The juveniles placed on “temporary detention” or "temporary intervention plans” can be placed in solitary confinement for 21 hours a day.
Youth facilities exceeded that limit 249 times from January through April, according to numbers provided to Nancy Campbell, who is appointed by the state courts to oversee the juvenile facilities. Campbell confirmed the findings [PDF] in a letter to the Prison Law Office last month. Campbell wrote:
Documentation shows that the most frequent failure to meet out-of-room requirements has occurred at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility. In the 14 weeks documented, there were 173 out of 1,453 incidents during which youth on TD [temporary detention] or TIP [temporary intervention plans] spent more than 21 of 24 hours confined to his or her rooms. Other DJJ facilities struggle to meet mandated services requirements as well: OH Close Youth Correctional Facility (43 out of 588 incidents); Preston Youth Correctional Facility (15 of 245 incidents); Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic (10 of 198 incidents); and NA Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (8 of 761 incidents).
The Prison Law Office has responded to the violations with a new motion in the lawsuit Farrell v. Cate, which the state settled with an agreement to reform mental health care at youth facilities in 2004. The filing seeks to force the juvenile justice division to comply with the 21-hour isolation limit.
“Those findings are consistent with what experts have been saying month after month, year after year, and the problem has not been solved,” Sara Norman, managing attorney at the Prison Law Office, told The Bay Citizen. “These are the problems that are hurting the youth the most, and we are out of patience.”
The problem, according to the audit, is much the same one faced by many California agencies. Juvenile justice has too few resources and too little staff.
“Living unit staff consistently reported that priority is given to providing services to youth participating in the regular program,” the report states. “Youth on TD are accommodated when time permits.”
California has just more than 1,000 juvenile inmates who have been convicted of serious crimes, called 707(b) offenses [PDF]. These crimes include murder, rape, drug sales, witness tampering and many others.
Putting a youth in prolonged isolation – a 23 and 1 program in juvenile justice division parlance – can have a “profound” impact on his or her well-being, the state’s Office of the Inspector General wrote in a 2000 report [PDF].
That document proves there have been problems with this practice for more than a decade.
“Twenty-six of the 70 wards (36 percent) said they did not receive the required one hour out of their room in each 24-hour period,” the inspector’s office wrote then. “Some wards said that time out of the room was occasionally cancelled, especially on weekends.”

Sunday, 12 June 2011



ELUTHERIA - Support 2nd chance Law for Juveniles: ADVOCATES FOR ABANDONED ADOLESCENTS WE CARE WHEN N...: " Delaproser - 'Journalism is more powerful..."

"The trauma sent me into a cycle of imprisonment - I kept being sent to juvenile hall, and later to prisons" - Troy


Some of these stories are graphic, uncensored accounts of actual rapes and surrounding circumstances. The language used may be raw and include street slang. JDI has made only minor edits for spelling and clarity. The views expressed are those of the individual survivor/author, and are not necessarily the views of Just Detention International.
My name is Troy. I am 37 years old and I have spent the majority of my life in California corrections facilities.
I first went into a juvenile facility when I was 12 years old. I was sent to the reception center after an altercation I had with other kids in my neighborhood. Back then, I didn't know my sexual orientation, but I knew that I was different. When I went in, I met several other boys - one in particular was from a known gang. A couple of days after I first got to the facility, he forced me to have oral sex with him in the shower area. Soon after that, I was raped by another boy, who was older than me - he was 16.
After both rapes, I didn't know who to go to. I was scared to tell anyone because I didn't know if I would get killed or beaten up. I didn't know if staff members would take me seriously. No one informed me that this was how the facility ran.
I realized I needed to figure out what to do to protect myself and keep myself safe. Guards knew what was happening but looked the other way; I was too afraid to fight back. So I started telling staff members that I was suicidal. I would cut my wrists, anything to draw blood and to get out of that situation and get into isolation. I found myself in situations I could not handle. People would take advantage of me and I just didn't know how to get help.
Being attacked and not receiving support from the adults in charge turned my world upside down. It's a traumatizing experience for someone who is young. I take that with me wherever I go.
That trauma sent me into a cycle of imprisonment - I kept being sent to juvenile hall, and later to prisons, where I continued to be assaulted and abused. I have spent most of my life in prison - never for anything violent. When I was released, three years ago, I committed to staying out of prison. I started a community service organization, Hands On Advocacy Group. I am a Board Member for Bill's Helping Hands. I provide advocacy and crisis support to the homeless, disabled, and the disadvantaged, giving a voice to the voiceless. I talk with young people about my experience and what they can learn from it.
Vulnerable inmates, and inmates who are assaulted, should not be punished with isolation or blamed for the attacks. Officials should be careful in their decisions about housing and program assignments for vulnerable inmates - a slight, first time offender should not be placed with a larger, older inmate who is serving many years for violent crimes. Someone who is convicted of a crime has to serve time but they shouldn't serve time in a manner in which they're going to be abused or assaulted.
- Troy, California

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Is it constitutional to sentence a juvenile offender who commits an offense at age 13 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Scott Drake talks with University of Miami Law Adjunct Professor Stephen K. Harper. He is theco-coordinator of the Capital Litigation Unit in the Miami-Dade Public Defenders Office.

Learn more at

Inside Juvenile Detention | Meet Lonnie "Big L" Carr

Our new series "Lake County Juvenile Justice" premieres July 4th on MSNBC. Meet Big L, detention officer at Lake County Juvenile Justice Complex. More at

Juvenile Justice - Tried as a child

Peer Jury Reduces Flow of Teens from School to Juvenile Justice System

A peer jury at Manual High School in Peoria, Illinois, has helped to dramatically reduce the number of teens entering the juvenile justice system from school. It is one of a number of projects supported by the MacArthur Foundation to help reform the juvenile justice system in Illinois as part of its Models for Change initiative. Learn more at

If I Get Out Alive!


"If I Get Out Alive" Prison Juvenile "Adult Prison"

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Friday, 10 June 2011

Judge orders new hearing for juvenile in Pa. murder case

Published: Thu, June 9, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.

Jordan Brown
By Mary Grzebieniak via @vindicator
A new hearing has been set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 5 before Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Dominick Motto on whether Jordan Brown should be tried as a juvenile or as an adult in the 2009 murder of his father’s fianc e.
Motto ordered the hearing set after meeting with attorneys for both sides Wednesday.
Atty. David Acker, who, along with Atty. Dennis Elisco, is defending Brown, said that the new hearing is the result of the Superior Court’s earlier reversal of Motto’s March, 2010 decision that Jordan should be tried as an adult.
Motto had made his ruling citing Brown’s failure to admit guilt after two psychologists testified that rehabilitation would be unlikely for a youth who failed to take responsibility for his actions. If tried as a juvenile, Brown could only be incarcerated until age 21, while he could face life in prison if tried as an adult.
But the Superior Court agreed in a March 2011 ruling that this reasoning violated Brown’s constitutional right against self- incrimination.
Acker said that both parties could have the option to present additional evidence or the hearing could be based on the existing record with all references to Jordan’s refusal to admit guilt eliminated.
Brown is charged with a double homicide in the shotgun killing of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk and her unborn child as she slept in the New Galilee farmhouse where she lived with Jordan, his father, and her two daughters. He was 11 at the time and is now 13.
Brown is still being held in an Erie juvenile facility.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Blade Reed with Steve Sydebotham

Blade Reed and I together-taken at W.V.C.F. recently. Blade was recently in anot...her altercation with an older inmate. Blade was hit in the back of the head with a padlock lock, and was also attacked with razors. He wasn't punished, as he was not at fault, and tried to walk away from it. How can this be considered an acceptable environment for him?See more

Juvenile Justice: policy experts speak back

In two previous stories hosted on Prevention Action this week, researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina, US, set out what does and doesn’t work in reducing the criminal behavior of juvenile offenders. Scott Henggeler and Sonja Schoenwald suggest that fewer than 5% of eligible high-risk juvenile offenders in the US are treated with an evidence-based treatment.
To get proven programs to the other 95%, they say, researchers need to consider the perspectives and needs of all constituents: the goals of juvenile justice agencies and practitioners, that is, as well as the goals of individuals and families on the receiving end of juvenile justice policies.
What’s more, researchers need to speak explicitly to policy perspectives – for example, by talking about cost-benefit evidence, or by using a public health framework to target both community safety and youth well-being.
So, what do policy experts make of Henggeler and Schoenwald’s analysis and advice?
Punishment vs. prevention
Christopher Slobogin, law professor at Vanderbilt University, US, acknowledges that community-based programs like MST (Multi-systemic Therapy) are more cost-effective than incarceration at rehabilitating juvenile offenders and reducing re-offending, but claims that “the legal system and policymakers are likely to resist such community-based treatments.”
One reason is that legal consequences for serious crimes are meant to punish and hold offenders accountable for their actions: “To many legal professionals and lay people, punishment and accountability can only occur through some sort of detention in prison, jail, or at least a boot camp.”
Slobogin also argues that MST-type programs are unlikely to be the disposition of choice unless the legal system comes to see the goal of any effort to deal with juvenile offenders as prevention and risk management, not punishment – in other words, it comes to be underpinned by a “prevention jurisprudence”:
“Such a system would not be focused on backward-looking assessments of culpability for crimes committed but rather on forward-looking assessments of the risk posed by the juvenile offender and the interventions needed to reduce that risk.
“In a preventive regime, imprisonment of any type would be impermissible when less drastic alternatives such as MST are equally or more effective at reducing recidivism. Detention would be a last resort. Further, transfer to adult court would never be necessary because juvenile detention facilities are capable of housing dangerous offenders.”
Public safety concerns
There is also a strong view that community-based programs are insufficiently protective of the public. Slobogin says, “Programs like MST allow a juvenile offender who has just offended [which may include a violent crime or serious property theft] to remain on the street.”
Peter Panzarella, Director of Substance Abuse Services for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, US, concurs, explaining the continued use of residential care and surveillance programs that lack evidence of crime reduction: “Community programs are much more effective, but they can raise the perceived risk for public safety. Long-term gains for the entire community can be overshadowed by a single negative case event, creating accusations that public officials are not concerned about the general public’s safety.”
How the system measures success
Another factor for the low market penetration of evidence-based programs, according to Panzarella, is that the juvenile justice system is not set up to deliver such programs: “Instead of emphasizing fidelity to a model, quality of services or outcomes, the field tends to focus more on process measured and funded capacity, safety, and risk factors. Evidence-based interventions challenge the factors driving procurement, contract bidding, data systems and budgeting to support the services.”
As a consequence, MST, Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and so on are at risk of becoming what Panzarella calls “‘boutique programs’ that do not penetrate on a scale that makes a real difference at a systems level.” This creates additional problems: “Implementation on a small scale raises ethical questions about how youth and families can have equal access to evidence-based interventions.”
Hope from Connecticut
However, the picture is not entirely bleak. Panzarella describes the work in Connecticut, which started including evidence-based interventions in children’s mental health, substance abuse, and crime prevention in 1997. Results of the pilot evaluations were positive, so in order to go to scale they developed a state infrastructure and changed procurement policies to include a new system for measuring implementation fidelity and quality.
A centralized approach was possible because the state is geographically small and has no county government. Connecticut now supports 26 MST teams, with the daily cost of services only $72 compared with about $247 a day for long-term residential adolescent substance abuse treatment.
Hope at the national level
Nationally, the context in the US is becoming more auspicious, argues Samantha Harvell, former Vice President for Early Childhood and Juvenile Justice Policy at the children’s advocacy organization First Focus. She claims that federal policy makers recognize the need to incentivize and expand the use of evidence-based practice with juvenile offender populations and at-risk youth.
She cites a recent re-authorization bill for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA, 2002), passed with bipartisan support, which defined criteria for evidence-based and promising programs and authorized an incentive grant for increasing the use of such programs.
In another example, the recent health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, established a $1.5 billion federal grant program supporting home visiting programs serving families with or expecting young children, such as Nurse Family Partnership.
According to Harvell, “The importance of outcome evaluation and focus on evidence-based and promising practice will intensify in the coming months as policy makers at all levels face increasingly tight budgets.
“In fact, given the lingering impacts of the recent recession, the next few years may be the most fruitful for advancing significant cost-saving reforms in juvenile justice and promoting the use of effective programs and practices with juvenile offender and at-risk populations.”
Henggeler, Scott W. and Sonja K. Schoenwald. 2011. “Evidence-based interventions for juvenile offenders and juvenile justice policies that support them.” SRCD Social Policy Report 25(1): 3-20.
Harvell, Samantha. 2011. “Supporting evidence-based juvenile justice practice from the top: progress and possibilities at the federal level.” SRCD Social Policy Report 25(1): 21-22.
Panzarella, Peter. 2011. “One state’s experience: the perspective of a Connecticut administrator.” SRCD Social Policy Report 25(1): 24-25.
Slobogin, Christopher. 2011. “A prevention model of juvenile justice.” SRCD Social Policy Report 25(1): 22-23.
For previous stories in this series, see Juvenile Justice; making "what works" a reality and Juvenile Justice; what works and what does not