OJD Week In Review: August 12-16 School Justice Partnership Summit (SJP)

School Justice Partnership (SJP) logo

Chief Justice Beasley and Governor Cooper Announce School Justice Partnership Initiative

This past Monday Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, Governor Roy Cooper, and public officials from across the state representing schools, law enforcement, courts and juvenile justice joined together in Guilford County to announce the official release of the School Justice Partnership (SJP) Toolkit. The SJP Toolkit is a collaborative resource for stakeholder meetings to address offenses emanating from school behavior that are processed in the juvenile and criminal court system . For more information click here.

MORE INFORMATION/OTHER LINKS

 

Watch this clip from Monday’s Safety Summit

www.nccourts.gov/news/tag/press-release/watch-live-Monday-Chief-Justice-Beasley-and-Governor-Cooper-to-announce-official-statewide-release-of-school-justice-partnership-toolkit.

IDS and OJD in the the Bar Journal

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The Office of Indigent Defense Services, including the Office of the Juvenile Defender, were featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the North Carolina State Bar Journal.

Sign Up Now To Receive Updates About Supreme Courts Rules

www.nccourts.gov/news/tag/press-release/sign-up-now-to-receive-updates-about-supreme-court-rules

OJD Week in Review: May 13 – 17

Happy Friday!  This week we’ve got quite a few new nuggets to share.  There is a new resource from NJDC worth noting, a webinar offering CLE credit, and a training in Rutherford from OJD.  Also, check out the new tip of the week and reminders from the previous weeks.

We also want to bring attention to yesterday’s post regarding the Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) hosted last month in conjunction with the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) at North Carolina Central University.  JTIP was one of the first steps in OJD’s strategic plan to address changes that can/will come as a result of Raise the Age.  Please read the full post here if you have not had a chance to yet!

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Group photo of new N.C. regional trainers and NJDC JTIP trainers.

Tip of the Week – Suppression

Suppression motions aren’t often used in the District Court setting (outside DWI cases), however juvenile court offers many opportunities for suppression.  The juvenile code outlines the procedure for filing a motion to suppress (§7B-2408.5) and it may be made either in writing before the adjudicatory hearing or orally during the hearing.  Consider whether or not your client’s statement or identifications may be subject to suppression.  Remember – “in custody” is an objective test!  The test is whether a “reasonable juvenile” in the position of the respondent would believe him/herself to be in custody OR that s/he had been deprived of freedom of action in some significant way, and is not based on the subjective intent of the interrogator or the perception of the person under questioning.  That means if your client is in the principal’s office and the SRO is standing in front of the door, would your client feel free to leave?

Job and Fellowship Opportunity

Today is the last day to submit your application for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR)’s mitigation specialist positions in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  The mitigation specialists will be responsible for the investigation and development of competent, thorough, and quality mitigation in accordance with statewide performance standards, the American Bar Association Guidelines, and national best practices.  To apply, please check here to apply for the New Orleans position and here to apply for the Baton Rouge opening.

The North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (NCCRED) has an opening for a new Executive Director.  The Executive Director will provide leadership and manage all aspects of the organization, including coordinating and filing reports, developing relationships with potential partners, promoting and developing research on racial disparities, and supervising interns and contract staff.  The ideal candidate will have a passion for racial justice, experience in criminal justice reform and all aspects of nonprofit organizational management, excellent communication skills and comfort with managing conflict.  Please find the full job description here.  To apply please submit resume, cover letter, and salary requirements to James E. Williams, Jr., by SaturdayJune 1.  Please include email subject line “NCCRED Director Position.”

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The Forsyth County Public Defender’s Office is currently seeking a new assistant public defender.  The selected candidate will represent indigent clients charged with misdemeanor criminal offenses and will be expected to analyze laws, facts, written documents, conduct legal research, develop litigation strategies.   For the full job description and to apply, please go here.

Training

On Monday, May 20, OJD will be hosting a Juvenile Court Basics Training in Rutherfordton.  The training will take place at the Rutherford County Courthouse from 2 – 4 p.m. and has already been approved for 2 general CLE credit hours.  Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry will be discussing topics such as how to talk to juvenile clients, dispositions, appeals, and more.  Please call our office at 919-890-1650 if you have questions regarding the training or email Marcus Thompson.

Registration is now open for the 2019 Summer Criminal Law Update Webinar which will take place June 7 from 1:30 to 3 p.m.  This webinar will cover recent criminal law decisions issued by the North Carolina appellate courts and U.S. Supreme Court and will highlight significant criminal law legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly.  School of Government criminal law experts John Rubin and Phil Dixon will discuss a wide range of issues affecting felony and misdemeanor cases in the North Carolina state courts.  The webinar, broadcast live from the School of Government, includes a dynamic visual presentation, live audio, and interactive Q&A.  This webinar is open to public defenders, private attorneys who handle or are interested in pursuing indigent criminal defense work, and other court personnel who handle criminal cases.  Please note that pre-registration is required and the deadline to register will be 5 p.m., June 5.  The webinar will offer 1.5 hours of CLE credit and qualifies for N.C. State Bar criminal law specialization credit.  The registration fee for private assigned counsel, contract attorneys, and other non-IDS employees is $75.00.  There is no registration fee for IDS state employees, thanks to support from the Office of Indigent Defense Services.  If you have questions related to webinar content, please contact John Rubin at 919.962.2498 or rubin@sog.unc.edu.  If you have questions about logistics, please Jessica O’Sullivan at 919.962.9754 or josullivan@sog.unc.edu.

TRAINING--DEVELOPMENT

Please save the dates for the 2019 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, August 8 and the Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, August 9.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, and offer approximately six hours of CLE credit.  The Parent Attorney Conference provides training for attorneys, who represent parents in abuse, neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings.  The Juvenile Defender Conference provides training for attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings.  If you have any questions, please contact Program Manager Kate Jennings, or if you have questions about the course content, please contact Program Attorney Austine Long.

The online registration deadline for the 2019 Defender Trial School, cosponsored by the School of Government and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be June 25.  The event will be held Monday, July 8, through Friday, July 12, at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  Defender Trial School participants will use their own cases to develop a cohesive theory of defense at trial and apply that theory through all stages of trial, including voir dire, opening and closing arguments, and direct and cross-examination. The program will offer roughly 29 hours of general CLE credit.  The Defender Trial School is open to public defenders and a limited number of private attorneys who perform a significant amount of appointed work.  IDS has expanded the number of fellowships available to cover the registration fee, but please note there is a limited number of fellowships.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please email Kate Jennings or Professor John Rubin or call 919-962-3287/919-962-2498.  To register, find a fellowship application, see the agenda, or find any other information, please check out the course page here.

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR)‘s Youth in Custody Certificate Program will be held July 22 – 26 at Georgetown University in partnership with Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators.  This training is designed to help juvenile justice system leaders and partners improve outcomes for youth in custodial settings, covering critical areas including racial and ethnic disparities, family engagement, assessment, case planning, facility-based education and treatment services, reentry planning and support, and culture change.

New Resource

To commemorate the 52nd Anniversary of In re Gault this week, the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is pleased to share a new resource, Making the Case for Young Clients: Supreme Court Quotes for Bolstering Juvenile Defense Advocacy.  Language shapes every defense.  And the United States Supreme Court has issued numerous opinions with language that supports the unique advocacy required for defending youth in juvenile delinquency proceedings.  From recognizing that youth are more susceptible to coercion during an interrogation to reinforcing the principle that youth are constitutionally different from adults, the Supreme Court has boldly delineated the rights and obligations due to young people.  This resource is filled with language from opinions spanning several decades and is accessible online here.

Also, please note that the application period for specialization in juvenile defense started on the 1st of this month and continues until July 2!  If you know someone or if you yourself are interested in specializing in the juvenile defense arena, please visit the N.C. State Bar Legal Specialization page.

That’s our wrap-up for this week.  Please make sure to subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already and head over to Twitter and Facebook, like and follow us!  Also, N.C. juvenile defenders, please contact us to be added to our listserv.  Have a great weekend.

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 25 – 29

The end of another week and another week in review at the close of March 2019!  This week we are bringing a new tip, a relevant blog post, and some reminders from the past weeks.  Please note upcoming deadlines!

Tip of the Week – School Searches

Was your client searched at school?  Was the SRO (school resource officer) involved?  The lower standard for school officials only applies if: the SRO was involved at the request of the school official; involvement was minimal relative to the school official; SRO did not initiate the investigation, and did not direct the school official’s actions (In re D.D., 146 N.C. App. 309 (2001)).  That means if the SRO is standing outside the door and the school official is consulting with the SRO regarding questioning your client – the SRO is directing the school official’s actions.  Consider filing a motion to suppress the results of the search!

From Around the Community

From the UNC School of Government’s On the Civil Side blog, Jacqui Greene has posted a new blog this week discussing the 2018 amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  In her post, Greene focuses on three specific changes regarding evidence-based and promising programs and practices, core requirements to address disproportionate minority contact, and requirements in identifying and treating mental health and substance abuse disorders.  Please take a moment to read this post here.

On teh Civil Side

Training

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) is accepting applications for its Youth in Custody Certificate Program, to be held July 22 – 26 at Georgetown University in partnership with Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators.  This training is designed to help juvenile justice system leaders and partners improve outcomes for youth in custodial settings, covering critical areas including racial and ethnic disparities, family engagement, assessment, case planning, facility-based education and treatment services, reentry planning and support, and culture change.  Please apply by April 12.

The North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights, Education Law, Criminal Justice Sections, and Minorities in the Profession Committee are proud to present the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) “Groundwater Presentation: An Introduction to Racial Equity”!  This free event will take place on May 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bar Center (8000 Weston Parkway).  More information and a link for registration will be available soon, but if you have any questions about the event, please contact Andi Bradford.  (Please note that while the event is free for everyone to attend, no more than 175 attendees will be permitted, so please register early!)

Save the Date!  The Southern Juvenile Defender Center will be hosting its 9th Annual Regional Summit on June 7th & 8th in New Orleans this year.  More details should arrive soon, but please contact Randee Waldman or Richard Pittman with questions.

Job and Fellowship Opportunity

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The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN)  is now accepting applications to the 2019 Youth Justice Leadership Institute!  The Institute is a year-long fellowship program focused on developing a strong base of well-prepared and well-equipped advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.  This program is geared towards individuals of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field, who may also be young adults who are system survivors themselves, or family members of someone in the system.  Each year, 10 fellows from across the country are selected to develop their leadership and advocacy skills in the context of a robust curriculum around youth justice reform.  The fellowship is completed concurrently with fellows’ current employment, so fellows do not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship includes two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  Interested in learning more about the Institute, or know someone who might be?  NJJN will be hosting its second and final informational webinar on ThursdayApril 4, led by the Institute’s coordinator, Diana Onley-Campbell.  To learn more or apply, find additional info here, or please register for one of the informational webinars here.  The deadline to apply for the fellowship will be 11:59 p.m. on April 29th.

The National Juvenile Defender Center is seeking a Mid-Level Staff Attorney with recent front-line juvenile defense experience to join our team.  The staff attorney will be responsible for conducting extensive legal research, analysis, and writing; will respond to requests for assistance from juvenile defense attorneys or stakeholders in the field; and may be called upon to provide training.  The staff attorney will work in partnership with our leadership team, staff, and community to advance NJDC’s mission and programs.  The position encompasses a diverse set of responsibilities, including: provide direct support and technical assistance to juvenile defense attorneys, policy advocates, and other juvenile court stakeholders working to improve access to and the quality of juvenile defense representation at the state, local, tribal, and national levels; support juvenile defense practice and policy, generally, by conducting extensive legal research and analysis and drafting reports, articles, fact sheets, and advocacy tools; act as a liaison with NJDC’s network of regional juvenile defender centers; engage in critical and strategic analysis of issues impacting youth rights and equity; contribute to and manage an assigned portfolio of projects while also being available to assist other team members as needed; and collaborate with coalition partner organizations.  For more instructions on how to apply and further job description details, please check here.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

That will be all for this week.  Please be sure to join us over on Twitter and Facebook to get more juvenile justice-related info throughout the week and make sure to subscribe to the blog!

Save the Date: N.C. Bar Association’s Groundwater Training on Racial Equity

The North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights, Education Law, Criminal Justice Sections, and Minorities in the Profession Committee are proud to present the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) “Groundwater Presentation: An Introduction to Racial Equity”!  This free event will take place on May 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bar Center (8000 Weston Parkway).  More information and a link for registration will be available soon, but if you have any questions about the event, please contact Andi Bradford.  (Please note that while the event is free for everyone to attend, no more than 175 attendees will be permitted, so please register early!)

REI hosts trainings locally and nationally to help participants develop tools to understand and challenge patterns of racial inequity and to grow equity within their organizations and communities.  REI’s Groundwater Training is a  lively, participatory, and evidence-based  introductory session in which trainers  review stories and data to examine characteristics of modern-day racial inequity, and actively engage participants in analyzing the impact of systemic and institutional racism in our society in areas such as education, healthcare, juvenile justice, criminal justice and child welfare.

This research-based presentation focuses on the following six points that are essential to understanding the realities of systemic racism as a predictor of outcomes in all institutions.

  1. Racial inequity looks the same across systems.
  2. Socio-economic difference does not explain the racial inequity.
  3. Systems contribute significantly to disparities.
  4. The systems-level disparities cannot be explained by a few ‘bad apples’ or ill-intentioned gatekeepers.
  5. Poor outcomes are concentrated in certain geographic communities; usually poor communities and communities of color.
  6. An analysis that includes race often draws starkly different conclusions than one that does not.

NCBA members who have attended this training describe it as transformative as well as fundamental to an attorney’s ethical responsibility to “seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession.” (NC Rules of Professional Conduct, .01 Preamble)

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 4 – 8

Welcome back!  This week we’re bringing attention to an update on our “Materials” page, a new tip, a fellowship opportunity, and training announcements.

Tip of the Week – Was Your Client’s Parent Present?

Any juvenile under the age of 16 must have a parent present for any in-custody interview. Any statement made without the parent’s presence is not admissible into evidence (§7B-2101(b)). Remember – “in-custody” is an objective test and uses the “reasonable juvenile” standard!

New Resource

We have updated our case summaries list, including new cases such as In re E.M. and In re B.B. and removing the broken links for all cases that took place prior to 2006.  Please feel free to download and review these cases as needed here.  If you find any issue with the document or its links, please contact our office.

Fellowship Opportunity

ChristyYJLIThe National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN)  is now accepting applications to the 2019 Youth Justice Leadership Institute!  The Institute is a year-long fellowship program focused on developing a strong base of well-prepared and well-equipped advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.  This program is geared towards individuals of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field, who may also be young adults who are system survivors themselves, or family members of someone in the system.  Each year, 10 fellows from across the country are selected to develop their leadership and advocacy skills in the context of a robust curriculum around youth justice reform.  The fellowship is completed concurrently with fellows’ current employment, so fellows do not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship includes two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  Interested in learning more about the Institute, or know someone who might be?  NJJN will be hosting two informational webinars on March 21 and April 4, led by the Institute’s coordinator, Diana Onley-Campbell.  To learn more or apply, find additional info here, or please register for one of the informational webinars here.  The deadline to apply for the fellowship will be 11:59 p.m. on April 29th.

Training

Registration for the “2019 Regional Training for Indigent Defense: Special Issues in Felony Cases” is now open to IDS contract attorneys and to privately assigned counsel representing indigent clients.  The training will focus on special issues in felony cases and include a two hour session on gangs.  The Regional Training will be held on Thursday, March 21 at the East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI) at ECU, located at 115 Heart Drive, Greenville, NC 27834.  The training will take place in the Conference Room beginning at 12:45 p.m.  Free parking is available in the visitor lots adjacent to ECHI as well as the Family Medicine building next door.  Refreshments will be provided.  To register and to find additional program information, visit their course page here.  The registration deadline for the Regional Training is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 18.  The registration fee is $95.00, which includes materials, CLE credit, and snacks.  The training will offer 3.0 hours of general CLE credit.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Program Attorney, Austine Long at along@sog.unc.edu or 919.962.9594 or Program Manager, Tanya Jisa at jisa@sog.unc.edu or 919.843.8981.

On March 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., the UNC School of Government (SOG) will be hosting the first North Carolina Criminal Justice Summit in the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Club.  The Summit will be lead by SOG’s own Professor of Public Law and Government Jessica Smith and will feature national and state experts with broad-ranging ideological perspectives who will discuss key issues capturing attention in North Carolina and around the nation, including bail reform, overcriminalization, and barriers to re-entry, such as fines and fees, the criminal record, and collateral consequences.  Join the conversation as they explore how these issues impact justice, public safety and economic prosperity in North Carolina, and whether there is common ground to address them.  This event will be free to attend, lunch will be provided, and it offers 5 hours of CJE and free CLE credit.  Attendees are responsible for their travel expenses, including a $14 event parking fee.  For those arriving the night before, state rate and discounted rooms at local hotels will be available.  For more details, please visit here.

Call to Action!

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North Carolina is in need of dedicated defenders today!  With the expected increase of juvenile defense cases following the full implementation of Raise the Age, North Carolina’s juvenile defender community will be in need of quality juvenile defense attorneys.  We want to encourage attorneys with a passion for protecting our most vulnerable populations, whether you possess decades of experience or you’ve been practicing for just over five years, to consider specializing now.  We also want attorneys fresh out of law school and those currently in law school to plan to take the specialization exam later in their career.  For details on specializing in North Carolina, please check out the link here (links also available on the sidebar).  Applications for the specialization exam with the N.C. State Bar should be open between May and July this year.  For additional resources and information about specializing, please check out the National Juvenile Defender Center’s page here.

That will be all for now, folks!  Please check us out on OJD’s Twitter and Facebook for posts throughout the week.

OJD Week in Review: Feb. 18 – 22

Happy Friday!  This week we’ve got a new tip, a new training, a podcast related to an event covered on last week, and the usual reminders.

Tip of the Week – Secure Custody and Burden of Proof

do-dont-sign-300x296If you have a client being held on a secure custody order – remember it’s the STATE’s burden to prove to the court, by clear and convincing evidence, that the juvenile should remain in custody AND no less intrusive alternative will suffice (§7B-1906(d)).  That means it’s not the court counselor’s role!  Ask the court for less restrictive means, for example electronic monitoring or house arrest.  If the court finds that your client should remain in custody, the court is bound by the criteria in §7B-1903 and must make written findings of fact.

Training

The Office of the Juvenile Defender will be hosting a Juvenile Court Basics CLE on Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Cumberland County Courthouse.  Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes will be discussing the role of counsel, how to communicate with juvenile clients, dispositions, capacity, appeals, and so much more.  Questions and concerns are welcome.  Four general CLE credit hours are approved for this training.   Please contact Marcus Thompson by email or call 919-890-1650 if you have questions.

Registration for the “2019 Regional Training for Indigent Defense: Special Issues in Felony Cases” is now open to IDS contract attorneys and to privately assigned counsel representing indigent clients.  The training will focus on special issues in felony cases and include a two hour session on gangs.  The Regional Training will be held on Thursday, March 21 at the East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI) at ECU, located at 115 Heart Drive, Greenville, NC 27834.  The training will take place in the Conference Room beginning at 12:45 p.m.  Free parking is available in the visitor lots adjacent to ECHI as well as the Family Medicine building next door.  Refreshments will be provided.  To register and to find additional program information, visit their course page here.  The registration deadline for the Regional Training is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 18.  The registration fee is $95.00, which includes materials, CLE credit, and snacks. The training will offer 3.0 hours of general CLE credit.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Program Attorney, Austine Long at along@sog.unc.edu or 919.962.9594 or Program Manager, Tanya Jisa at jisa@sog.unc.edu or 919.843.8981.

TRAINING--DEVELOPMENT

On March 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., the UNC School of Government (SOG) will be hosting the first North Carolina Criminal Justice Summit in the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Club.  The Summit will be lead by SOG’s own Professor of Public Law and Government Jessica Smith and will feature national and state experts with broad-ranging ideological perspectives who will discuss key issues capturing attention in North Carolina and around the nation, including bail reform, overcriminalization, and barriers to re-entry, such as fines and fees, the criminal record, and collateral consequences.  Join the conversation as they explore how these issues impact justice, public safety and economic prosperity in North Carolina, and whether there is common ground to address them.  This event will be free to attend, lunch will be provided, and it offers 5 hours of CJE and free CLE credit.  Attendees are responsible for their travel expenses, including a $14 event parking fee.  For those arriving the night before, state rate and discounted rooms at local hotels will be available.  To apply for this course and find more details, please visit here.  Applicants should be notified regarding acceptance by today.

From Around the Community

Last week we covered an event at Duke University in which Professor Brandon L. Garrett discussed juvenile life without parole and its impact on N.C. with a panel of juvenile justice advocates to correlate with the release of his newest report on the issue.  This week we want to also bring attention to a recent episode of The State of Things that features Garrett discussing the topic further.  If you would like to hear the 11-minute segment, please check it out here.

That is all for now, but we have more planned in the coming weeks.  Please check us out on OJD’s Twitter and Facebook for posts throughout the week.

Duke Law Hosts JLWOP Panel

JLWOP Panel

On Monday, Feb. 11, the Duke Criminal Law Society and Duke Law Professor Brandon L. Garrett (pictured speaking at the lectern stand on the right) hosted a panel discussion regarding their newest study, “Juvenile Life Without Parole in North Carolina.”  The panel featured (seated from left to right) David Andrews of the Office of Appellate DefenderBen Finholt of N.C. Prisoner Legal Services,  and N.C. State Representative Pricey Harrison.

The event opened with an introduction of the panel by Garrett, before panelists presented their own perspectives on the issue of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) and the study released by Garrett and his colleagues.

Harrison emphasized the negative economic impact JLWOP has on N.C.  She reinforced the argument that juveniles could contribute much more to society if given the opportunity to get an education and job, rather than being held in a facility on hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for a lifetime.

Finholt pointed out the State’s abuse of JLWOP.  “So far, as far as we know with the data we have, there has not been a single JLWOP resentencing hearing where the option of LWOP was on the table and the State has consented to taking it off the table,” he said.  “In every single resentencing hearing where LWOP is an option, the State has sought LWOP.  Every single time.  And I don’t think that matches what the U.S. Supreme Court has told us is supposed to happen in Roper, Graham, Miller, Montgomery.  I think in the whole line, it’s pretty clear that this should be rare.  This should only be used in exceptionally bad circumstances, and I think that is generally the way it has not been handled.”

Andrews also touched on Miller and its implications, disproportionate minority contact, and reform.

“When we talk about juvenile life without parole, we are talking about Miller v. Alabama,” Andrews said.  “What I love about this report that we have now, from Professor Garrett and all the other authors, is that it gives us perspective…  What’s interesting to me is that there is a disproportionate impact that this sentence has on race.  Children of color, these are the individuals who get LWOP.  There is a disproportionate impact on children of color.  We also know from the report that once a county imposes JLWOP, it is more likely to impose that sentence again.  It becomes entrenched.”

Andrews said from the perspective of trial attorneys dealing with JLWOP cases, they should pursue school records, interviews with family members, DSS records, and experts in fields such as adolescent brain science to dissuade a judge from sentencing a child to LWOP.

Andrews posed the question that really hit the core of the issue at hand, asking “Do we really want to sentence kids to die in prison?”

After every panelist had the opportunity to speak and before engaging in a question and answer session with members of the audience, Garrett reiterated the issue.  He pointed out that in the study, one-third of the individuals sentenced to LWOP were not the killers or had no intent to kill, but were convicted under a felony murder theory.

In response to one question about the discussions between legislators regarding juvenile justice, Harrison stated, “There are legislators who are considering continued reforms.  I know that many of us felt like Raise the Age… was an important first step and it took us nearly 15 years to really get on that.  It still needs work and I think that there are legislators interested in that and other juvenile justice issues…  There’s a lot going on.  It’s a different climate right now, but it is a little more conducive to making some of these improvements.”

In regards to Raise the Age and the impact he thought this study could potentially have on possible reforms going forward, Garrett said, “To kind of fix that you need to solve this juvenile life without parole problem.  In some ways it’s about the past.  And I think fixing that problem is a money-saver, but also highlights this moral issue that there should be a possibility of redemption, of rehabilitation for all juvenile sentences…  In some ways it’s a completely different question to Raise the Age.  It’s not about adult court versus juvenile court.  It’s just that there should be meaningful review for long juvenile sentences, no matter what the circumstances.  I think that it’s just a sensible position for the State to have.  It’s the right moral position, it follows the science of juvenile brain development, and it’s not inflexible.”

Garrett stated that the JLWOP study was just one of the projects he and his students were working on, including a traffic court study, parole, and non-juvenile life without parole.  He said this just happened to be one of the first they presented publicly.  To read the report and more from Duke Law’s JustScience Lab, please go here.