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.

OJD Week in Review: Dec. 10 – 14

Another Friday and only two more left in 2018!  This week we’ve got a new tip for defenders, one new training, and deadline reminders for you.

Tip of the Week – Prior Record Level Matters

If your client’s prior record places him/her in a position for the judge to enter a level 1 OR 2 dispositional level, ALWAYS argue for a level 1 disposition.  You can find a copy of the disposition chart here.  Make sure to check the final written order for accuracy.

Training

Applications for the Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program are due today.  Only a limited number of applicants will be accepted, so please visit the website to view the curriculum and learn how to apply to the training.  This is an intensive training  hosted by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) in partnership with the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) and designed to support local jurisdictions in their efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their juvenile justice systems.   The training will allow participants to develop and implement a Capstone Project designed to reduce the disparate treatment in their communities.   This event will take place March 25 – 29, 2019, at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center.  For more information, please visit the training website.

23777394-Save-the-date-grunge-rubber-stamp-on-white-vector-illustration-Stock-Vector

Save the date!  The 2019 Regional Training for Indigent Defense: Special Issues in Complex Felony Cases will be held on March 21, 2019 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.  The training will focus on topics relevant to criminal law practitioners and is open to IDS contract attorneys and privately assigned counsel.  Participants will receive three general CLE credit hours.  Registration will open in January.

Job Opportunities

On Dec. 1, Indigent Defense Services (IDS) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in Caswell, Person, Alamance, Orange, and Chatham counties.  The current contracts for adult noncapital criminal cases at the trial level and per session court cases in those districts will expire on May 31, 2019 and renew on June 1, 2019.  The RFP (RFP #16-0002R) seeks services for adult noncapital criminal cases at the trial level, juvenile delinquency, abuse/neglect/dependency and termination of parental rights, and treatment courts.  Please note that the RFP will not seek offers for potentially capital cases at the trial level, direct appeals or post-conviction cases.  Also, the juvenile delinquency RFP will only include Caswell, Alamance, and Person counties.  The deadline for electronic offers is Feb. 15, 2019.  To access the RFP, please check here.

That will be all for this week.  Please check us out on Twitter and join us on the OJD Facebook page for other news and updates throughout the week.  And if you don’t see anything further from us before the year’s end, we wish you all safe and holidays!

Parks and Rec Holiday

OJD Week In Review: Oct. 30 – Nov. 3

We hope everyone had a great Halloween, and this week we’ve got a few new updates to resources, training info, and reminders for you.

A Few Treats and (Possibly New) Tricks You Can Use

Never too old

The Youth Justice Project has released a new report titled “Putting Justice in North Carolina’s Juvenile System”.  This report points out areas in which North Carolina’s juvenile justice system is failing youth, especially youth of color.  The  report identifies five major barriers that are hindering the N.C. juvenile justice system, including one which sites inadequate resources for OJD.  You can read the report here.

The W. Haywood Burns Institute has updated its interactive map which illustrates significant racial and ethnic disparities in youth incarceration rates.  Through this map you can review how your state ranks in incarceration rates, compare which counties have incarcerated the most youth by race,  and filter data by measurement, race, offense and placement type.  You can view the map on their website here.

Registration is now open for the Winter Criminal Law Webinar: Case and Legislative Update.  This webinar is open to public defenders and private attorneys who are interested in or currently practicing indigent defense work and will cover recent criminal law decisions from the N.C. Appellate Court and N.C. Supreme Court.  The training will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, and will reward participants with 1.5 hours of general CLE credit.  There is a registration fee of $75 for privately assigned counsel, contract attorneys and other non-IDS employees.  Registration ends on Dec. 6 at 5 p.m.  To register and find more info on presenters and topics included in this event, please visit the School of Government’s page.

Whale TrT

Stretched and Fading Deadlines

The Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham has extended its deadline for applications for a new staff attorney.  The closing date for this position will now be November 13.  You can view the full details about this position and how to apply here.

Applications for the North Carolina Judicial Fellowship’s two-year fellowships (six openings) beginning in August 2018 will close today at 5 p.m.  If you want to get in a last-minute application, feel free to check their website and submit it fast!

And that is all for this week.  There will be more to come in the next few weeks, even in the holiday season, so continue to check back frequently.  Also, feel free to join the conversation on our social media pages and feel free to share, especially on the OJD Facebook page, if there is something you think is worth discussing in the juvenile defender community!

OJD Week in Review: Oct. 16-20

This week we’ve got a few new resources for you, a panel discussion, and a declaration from the governor’s office we had to include.

Quick Reminder

Firstly, we’d like to remind everyone of the approaching deadlines for a couple of job opportunities we’ve previously mentioned.  Applications for the NJDC Gault Fellowship are due Monday, Oct. 30.  Also, applications for North Carolina Judicial Fellowship‘s two associate counsel positions are due by 5 p.m. today, and applications for the six (6) two-year fellowships starting August 2018 will close on Nov. 3.  Hurry and spread the word or apply if you are interested!

The National Juvenile Justice Network has also posted an opening for a 2018 Fall internship.  The full details for this unpaid internship can be found here.

And moving on to this week’s news…

On last Friday, N.C. Governor Roy Cooper declared Oct. 15-21 “Juvenile Justice Week” (among other things).  In his proclamation (which can be read here), Governor Cooper acknowledges the milestones achieved by the Juvenile Justice Section of the Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice, including the decline of the juvenile crime rate and passing of Raise the Age.

AtlanticOn Tuesday, Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry joined Ricky Watson, Jr., co-director of the Youth Justice Project, and District Court Judge Louis Trosch, Jr., co-chair of Race Matters of Juvenile Justice and judge for the 26th judicial circuit, on a live panel with The Atlantic‘s Assistant Editor (now to promoted Managing Editor as of this post) Adrienne Green to discuss juvenile justice reform and racial disparities.  In the video, the panel touches on school-justice partnerships, acknowledging implicit biases, and expectations for Raise the Age.  You can view the video here.

From the On the Civil Side blog, Professor LaToya Powell offers some insights on capacity.  In the latest post, titled “Incapacity to Proceed and Juveniles“, Powell breaks down the requirements for a juvenile to be determined capable of proceeding.

The Sentencing Project has also released two new fact sheets, “Native Disparities in Youth Incarceration” and “Latino Disparities in Youth Incarceration“, which offer quick statistics on the disparities between juvenile placements of youth of these ethnic groups and their Caucasian peers.  These fact sheets can be paired with the “Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration” fact sheet released back in September.

NJJN image

You should also check out the National Juvenile Justice Network’s latest newsletter when you find the time.  NJJN has several new articles, including one discussing Texas’ plans for juvenile justice reform, ways to participate in Youth Justice Action Month, and recognizing implicit bias, just to name a few.  The toolkit for changing harmful media narratives about youth of color that we mentioned last week can also be found in their newsletter.

That is all for this week, folks.  We hope that it has been a great Juvenile Justice Week for everyone.  If there is anything you would like to share about your experience during Youth Justice Action Month, please let the N.C. Juvenile Defender community know on Facebook or here on our blog!