Probation for a Rapist?

“I got 12 months for a falsified police report and he got probation for raping me and the others,” Ashley said on Friday. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Prosecutors and the judge agreed to a sentence of 10 years probation in exchange for Tony Simmons’, a counselor at Juvenile Justice Department, plea to rape against Ashley and other sexual counts for sexual conduct between 2005 and 2008. This plea offer agreement was later withdrawn by Judge Mullen, of New York County court, because Simmons had not shown any remorse for his actions. He made numerous comments that his victims inticed him or consented to his actions.
While Simmons was supposed to be helping these young female teens, he was instead taking advantage of their fragile states. He also entered into an agreement on behalf of Ashley which involved a 12 month sentence for a falsified police report while Simmons pled guilty to rape and was only given a probation sentence. This seems highly unbalanced justice that a juvenile offender would be so harshly punished for such a minor offense. This makes on wonder, whether this type of disproportionate justice frequently occurs in the juvenile justice system?
Finally on February 1st, 2011, Simmons was sentenced to a 4 year prison sentence for sexually abusing two girls.
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This is Your Face. This is Your Face on Drugs.

A sheriff in Multnomah County, Oregon, is using before-and-after mugshots of young drug abusers in the prison system to scare children (and anyone) from using illegal drugs. Deputy Bret King compiled the contrasting mugshots from various substance abusers into a 48-minute documentary titled “From Drugs to Mugs” as a way to chronicle the shocking ways a young face can transform  as a result of using crystal meth, cocaine, and other harmful substances. The results are frightening, to say the least.

The goal is to appeal to young people’s “sense of vanity.”

Deputy King’s film echoes the same themes in the 1978 documentary “Scared Straight,” where baby-faced juvenile delinquents were forced to endure 3-hour sessions with real life death row inmates in prison.

Are these scare tactics effective or do they cross the line? Reports suggest mixed results. No doubt (most) parents try their very best to keep their kids on the straight path. But when families and households are broken, and children are surrounded by overwhelmingly negative influences instead of love and affection, should the state step into the role of a “nanny” and scare our kids from going astray?

One could argue Deputy King’s video is no different than the public service announcements we saw on TV back in the day–just not as innocent! But times have changed, haven’t they? Kids are facing greater dangers, and drastic times call for drastic measures.

What’s the best strategy to knocking some sense into our young people so they don’t end up in prison?… <Read More>

“Kids for Cash”

With all the problems plaguing juvenile justice, we really don’t need added corruption. Judge Mark Ciavarella from Pennsylvania was under suspicion for his “assembly line” service of juvenile offenders. Kids would be in and out of his courtroom in minutes and most of them were sentenced to detention facilities. Instead of state run facilities, the juveniles in his courtroom were sentenced to two particular private facilities. Under Ciavarella there was a 21% detention placement rate, up from the 4.5% detention placement rate with the prior judge.

This article outlines some of the offenses which landed kids in these detention centers:

A 10-year-old girl who accidentally set her bedroom on fire spent a month in a detention center.

A 13-year-old boy got 48 days for throwing a steak at his mother’s boyfriend during an argument. Ciavarella locked up another 13-year-old boy for failing to testify against a fellow student who brought a knife to a school dance.

A 15-year-old was sentenced to a boot camp for “an indefinite period” after she wrote a prank note that was deemed a “terroristic threat.”

A 16-year-old spent a month in a boot camp for creating a MySpace page that made fun of her high school’s assistant principal.

A 17-year-old boy charged with possessing drug paraphernalia, his first offense, served a total of five months.… <Read More>

The Costs of Juvenile “Justice”

In November 2006, Darryl Thompson, a 15-year-old boy, died in restraints after being pinned to the floor in the Tryon Boys Residential Center in New York.  Such force was used after Darryl repeatedly asked for recreation time.  Last August, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated and discovered that the state uses “excessive force on youths in custody,” and will sue the state if reform does not happen.  Likewise, the Gossett juvenile prison in upstate New York is often referred to as “Rug Burn City, a reference to the injuries [youths] sustained when guards . . . . pinned young offenders face down on the carpeted floor.”… <Read More>