Thursday, 28 November 2013

Why are so many mentally ill children being held in prison cells?

The spike in psychiatric assessments of children taking place in custody, especially in the south-west, shows a systematic failure
Young inmate looking depressed in prison cell, Portland Young Offenders Institution, Dorset
'The home secretary has said police cells should only be used for psychiatric assessments in exceptional circumstances.' Photograph: Paul Doyle /Alamy
Jeremy Hunt is right to advocate the importance of work experience for politicians as well as managers in the NHS; the health secretary really should try a night in the cells. It would utterly convince him of the need to end the practice of using cells to detain mentally ill children and adults who are waiting for a psychiatric assessment.
Is it conceivable that a 13-year-old child with a suspected broken leg would be held in a police cell if there was no orthopaedic surgeon ready to assess them? Yet on 25 occasions since the start of this year that is, in effect, what has happened to children felt to have an acute mental disorder, in Devon and Cornwall. On three occasions those children were aged 12 or 13. Custody suites are scary places, especially at night and unacceptably so for an acutely distressed child.
It is not the fault of the police, who go to great lengths to try to arrange for psychiatric assessments to take place in an appropriate place of safety, after they have used their powers under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
These powers allow them to detain a person in a public place, whom they believe may have a mental disorder posing a risk to themselves or others, in order to take them to a suitable place of safety for an assessment. The home secretary has made it clear that police cells should only be used in exceptional circumstances, and yet in Devon and Cornwall alone, 674 assessments have taken place in police custody and only 277 in medical or psychiatric settings since January.
Nationally, 22,000 people were subject to a section 136 last year. The vast majority did not go on to compulsory hospital admission, and it is clear that with better access to community mental health teams many of these assessments could be avoided in the first place. There are long-term implications for anyone who may have to declare that they have been subject to compulsory detention; despite all the efforts to reduce stigma, it is hardly a reference.
Once in custody, the lack of doctors, who must be approved under section 12 of the Mental Health Act, to carry out the further assessments which usually take place out of hours, causes further delays. These delays however are expensive for the police rather than the health service, so there is little financial incentive for the NHS to change their practices, even though it is clearly a distressing ordeal for the person under detention.
Too often health professionals are doing the "system's business", rather than what is right for patients when it comes to caring for those in the community with mental illness. Carers sometimes find it impossible to arrange assessments for family or friends, if a GP, for example, refuses to see someone unless they ask for help themselves (difficult if a person is paranoid and doesn't recognise that they are unwell). Specialists may refuse to assess without that GP referral, and so no assessment takes place until there is an acute crisis and the police are called.
If an individual does need to be admitted to hospital following a section 136 assessment, they then face delays through the lack of available beds. In the last month in Devon and Cornwall alone, four people were held in police custody for such long periods of time that a bed provisionally booked was no longer available once the ambulance arrived to transfer them. The Care Quality Commission has found that in over 50% of psychiatric wards there was 90% bed occupancy and in 15% of wards in excess of 100% occupancy. For children the situation is dire, with almost no provision for assessment in an appropriate medical setting, let alone in-patient beds.
Inadequate funding allocated to mental health services and a failure to provide timely support for this vulnerable group is also placing great strain on the police.
If "parity of esteem" for mental illness is to have any meaning, the secretary of state must insist that there is an immediate end to the use of police cells to assess people in acute distress. Many areas have already achieved it but if there are still 13-year-old children being assessed in police cells in 2014, parliament must act to make it illegal. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The *Times* is on Line One: How to Transform a Media Crisis into Juvenil...

Uh-oh! Reporters are lighting up your phone, and you have a television crew in your lobby. You work every day on behalf of young people in trouble with the law, but now, everything's gone pear-shaped. What do you do?

Not to worry. In this webinar, two communications experts teach you how to plan for media crises and avert them if possible; how to handle them when they happen; and even how you can use them to help you make your case for juvenile justice reform.

Beyond Scared Straight: Teens in New Mexico Meet Real Inmates (S5, E1)

In this scene from the episode Albuquerque, NM: Dance, Bieber, Dance, Teens in Albuquerque, New Mexico meet real inmates and Elijah breaks down, crying.
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Beyond Scared Straight: A Female Inmate Intimidates Teens (S5, E1)

In this scene from the episode Albuquerque, NM: Dance, Bieber, Dance, Yvonne, a female inmate in Albuquerque, New Mexico, intimidates teens on a jail tour, taunting the boys with her fists.
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Saturday, 23 November 2013

15-Year-Old Gets Six Life Sentences?

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 1:27pm
At gunpoint, two 18-year-olds and a 15-year-old robbed a dozen other teenagers at a house party, taking money, phones, and marijuana. No shots were fired, but one of the 18-year-olds struck someone with the butt of his gun.
The crime is unquestionably serious. Witnessing a robbery can cause severe psychological trauma, especially for people younger than 18. For their offense, the two older boys accepted serious prison sentences of 10 and 13 years in exchange for pleading guilty.
But the younger boy, Travion Blount, declined to plead guilty and turned down the prosecution's offer of 18 years in prison. He went to trial, was found guilty, and received a mandatory 118 years in prison, without parole, for 24 firearm counts—each time Travion or his codefendants held a gun to one of the 12 people, the entire group committed two felonies with a firearm: armed robbery and abduction. On top of that, he received six life sentences. His only chance to exit prison alive is through geriatric release at age 60, which is almost never granted. He will most likely die behind bars.
Other than execution, sentencing someone to be behind bars until they die is our most severe punishment, one that we mostly reserve for people who commit the most egregious murders. In fact, many murderers serve much shorter sentences than Travion's: the average murder/non-negligible manslaughter sentence in the U.S. is 20 years in prison. Travion received the same sentence as the 17-year-old involved in the D.C. sniper killings. Should a 15-year-old who didn't physically injure anyone receive such an extreme sentence?
Certainly, what should happen to Travion is a difficult question. Yes, he is responsible for committing an offense that deserves serious punishment. But that does not mean he deserves whatever punishment he receives. We share responsibility for his fate. Sentencing laws do not simply appear on the books. Lawmakers, who represent us, put them there. And we are responsible for making sure these sentences are not needlessly cruel and wasteful. Do-the-crime-do-the-time platitudes don't absolve us of that responsibility.
Intuitively, we understand that punishments can be disproportionate. This is clear at extremes such as stoning women convicted of adultery, cutting off the hands of thieves, or executing people convicted of sorcery. Travion's punishment is certainly less barbaric than stoning, but it is still excessive. Life sentences should be reserved for the gravest offenses; Travion's crime, though terrible, is not among them. And what kind of system have we created when the only way to avoid such an extreme sentence is to waive our Constitutional right to trial?
We cannot simply ignore our extreme sentencing problem. The mandatory minimum sentences that applied in Travion's case are part of a larger picture: for the last four decades, this country has excessively and persistently ratcheted up the number of people behind bars and the length of the terms they're serving, needlessly ruining millions of lives and costing taxpayers billions. Our country's obsession with extreme sentencing has swept in too many people, and it's time to undo some of this damage.
Kids like Travion do not need to die behind bars. We can choose instead not to allow armed robbery to result in a life sentence if no physical injury occurs. We can choose instead not to allow 24 mandatory terms to stack consecutively if they occur in the course of overlapping events. We can choose instead to hold Travion accountable for the significant harms he has caused without treating him with the same severity as those guilty of the most heinous wrongs. We can, and we should.
You can read more about the case and see a step-by-step account of Travion's crime at the Virginian-Pilot's coverage.
For more on extreme sentencing, check out the ACLU's new report A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.
Learn more about juvenile detention and other civil liberties issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Beyond Scared Straight: Losing It Al l (S5, E7)

At-risk teens visiting Florida's Charlotte County Jail learn about the undignified loss of privacy and personal possessions once they end up in jail.
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Friday, 1 November 2013

Davontae Sanford

Let's Get Together And send some love and blesings Davontae Sanford way for his birthday,his info.Davontae Sanford-684070
Ionia Maxmium Correctional Fac
1576 W.Bluewater Highway
Ionia,Mi 48446
He cant have a birthday cake,his mother cant wake up and hug him and say'' Happy Birthday''He lost 6 Birthdays because of the corruption of DPD and Kim Worthy.Let's get them in the mail-Thankin Advanced-God Bless U-

What is Fair? Examining Sentencing for Youth

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that adolescents are different than adults. It would seem to follow then that youth are treated as such under the law, including when they are involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Yet, issues persist. Kids sit in our prisons facing life without parole sentences for crimes they committed before they were 18. Kids are being tried as adults. Many youth move through these systems unrepresented by legal counsel and if placed in correctional facilities are not provided with the type of treatment and programming for their rehabilitation. This show will explore how states across the country are interpreting the Supreme Court decisions and highlight trends in policy and practice when it comes to fair sentencing, Guests will also share their thoughts on what a fair and effective system looks like that best serves youth and public from national, state and personal perspectives. Guests: Naoka Carey, Executive Director, Citizens for Juvenile Justice; Sharletta C. Evans, Founder, Red Cross Blue Shield Gang Prevention and Mother of Child Killed by Gun Violence; Jody Kent Lavy, Director and National Coordinator, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth; and Xavier McElrath-Bey,