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: Jan. 22-26

We’re bringing more reminders than big updates this week, but as always we’ve got a few good tidbits of news you can use.

Your Usual Training News

Earlier this week we posted that registration is now open for the “Advocating for Youth Charged with First Degree Murder” training.  Cosponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the School of Government, this training will be held on March 9 at the UNC School of Government, starting at 8:45 a.m. and ending at 4:15 p.m.  The training will be geared towards attorneys who represent youth in juvenile and superior court and will cover topics including sentencing, mitigation, parole hearings, transfer hearings and the future of Miller cases.  In our previous post we provide details for hotel information, travel reimbursement and registration.

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We’d also like to remind everyone that registration for “Regional Training for Indigent Defense: Defending Sexual Offenses” closes Monday, Jan. 29, at 5 p.m.  This CLE, hosted by the UNC School of Government, will focus on defending sexual offenses with sessions on physical evidence, cross-examining experts, and motions and legal issues.  The event will be held on Feb. 8, 2018 at 1801 Nash St., Sanford, N.C. in the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.  This program is open to all IDS contract attorneys and privately assigned counsel representing indigent clients and will offer 3.0 hours of CLE credit.  There is an $85 registration fee that will cover CLE credits, snacks, and materials.  Please find further details and register here.

New Resources

If you’re in need of CLE credits before the annual deadline, the Indigent Defense Education Group at the School of Government is ready and waiting to help.  With on-demand courses taught by experienced staff and legal professionals, you have the option to take a course for free if you just want to learn something new for the day or pay a fee to obtain your required CLE time.  This should be a valuable resource for all defenders, offering courses in many areas including ethics, mental health/substance abuse, and more.  You can access the on-demand content library here.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has also added a new snapshot to its Statistical Briefing Book, focusing on girls in the juvenile justice system.  This new file offers statistics on the types of offenses committed by girls and comparisons of arrests for certain crimes between males and females, with data gathered up to 2015.  You can find the newest entry in the Statistical Briefing Book here and also check out other recent updates to the database here.

facebookThat completes the news for this week.  We still encourage all stakeholders in the juvenile defense community to feel free to contact us about submitting guest blogs or joining us on our podcast.  And for those of you who are new to juvenile defense, or if you know someone who is interested in juvenile defense, be sure to contact us to be added to our listserv, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter as well.

Registration is Now Open for “The Advocating for Youth Charged with First Degree Murder” Training

We are excited to announce that the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services will be cosponsoring a new course titled “The Advocating for Youth Charged with First Degree Murder”. This training will be held on March 9, 2018 at the UNC School of Government.

This special topics training is for attorneys who represent youth in juvenile or superior court. It will include topics that address sentencing, mitigation, parole hearings, transfer hearings and a discussion about the future of Miller cases. The training will offer 5.75 CLE Hours.  Here you will find a copy of the agenda.

Check-in will be on Friday, March 9, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., at which time the program will begin. The program ends at 4:15 p.m.

REGISTRATION: To register online, as well as to find directions and other program information, please visit the UNC School of Government website.

The registration fee for the training is $165.  The online registration deadline is 5:00 p.m. on FRIDAY, March 2, 2018. There is no onsite registration.

HOTEL INFORMATION: A block of rooms has been set up at the Holiday Inn Express Chapel Hill. The rate is $80 per night and includes a full deluxe hot breakfast, high speed wireless internet access and local shuttle service. To reserve a room online please visit www.hiexpress.com/chapelhillnc and use the group code JPM. To reserve a room by phone please call the hotel directly at 919.489.7555, provide your arrival / departure dates and the group code JPM. You are responsible for making your own hotel reservation. The reservation deadline for the block rate is February 15, 2018. After this date, guests will be accommodated on a space-available basis and may not be able to obtain the group rate.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT – IDS STATE EMPLOYEES ONLY: If you are an IDS employee, your eligibility for travel reimbursement at the state rate is contingent upon state rules and regulations. For all questions regarding travel reimbursement, please contact Elisa Wolper—Chief Financial Officer at IDS—at 919.890.1643. Please note travel reimbursement forms must be submitted to IDS Financial Services within 30 days of travel or reimbursement will be denied.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: We look forward to seeing you in March.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact me, Susan Jensen – Program Manager – at sjensen@sog.unc.edu or 919-962-0940, or Austine Long – Program Attorney for the Indigent Defense Education – at along@sog.unc.edu or 919.962.9594.