OJD Week in Review: July 9 – 13

Welcome back for the weekly roundup!   This has been one of our most eventful weeks, specifically on our blog, in some time.  We will rehash some of the content we’ve posted here, and also note there are some deadlines approaching in the next few weeks for event registration and job/funding opportunities.

Additionally, while the time to register has passed, check out our brief Q&A with Youth Justice Project Co-Director Ricky Watson, Jr. regarding the National Juvenile Justice Network‘s 2018 Forum, which starts Monday, July 16!  You can see what Ricky had to say us about the Forum here.

New Resource

cropped-whiteojd.pngEarlier this week the Office of the Juvenile Defender (OJD) posted two new resources for juvenile defense attorneys on our site.

The first was a Quick Tips Strategy Sheet to assist attorneys with getting charges reduced or diverting juveniles charged with making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property.  This document was composed to address the increase of juveniles being charged with such felonies since the Parkland school tragedy.  To review the article, please check it out here.

The second resource was a breakdown of the JWise Attorney Access (JAA), which was a database that, as a result of the Raise the Age legislation, is now accessible to juvenile defense attorneys!   This post explains what JAA is, how attorneys can gain access, the benefit to attorneys, and where to find assistance should you encounter any issues.  To read this article, please check it out here.

From Around the Community

RTAThe Office of the Juvenile Defender (OJD) will be hosting a Regional Raise the Age Information Meeting in Asheville on Friday, July 20, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.  The event will be held in the Jury Assembly, Room 272, of the Judicial Complex (60 Court Plaza, Asheville, N.C. 28801).  As with the previous  regional information meetings, all juvenile defenders, especially those in Buncombe and its surrounding counties, are invited to attend.  We will discuss the Raise the Age law, OJD’s plan in response to it, and what issues should be addressed going forward.  This will be a discussion, so please bring any of your questions, comments, and concerns about Raise the Age.  If you have questions prior to the meeting, please contact Marcus Thompson by email or call us 919-890-1650.

Late & onsite registration will still be available for the 81st Annual National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Conference until Friday, July 20.  The event this year will take place at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center from July 22 – 25.  The conference will offer presentations/training tracks on  topics such as family law, juvenile justice, child welfare, and family violence.  This conference is judicially-focused and open to all those interested in the improvement of juvenile and family justice.  For registration and further info, please visit the NCJFCJ website here.

Job /Funding Opportunity

The Governor’s Crime Commission is soliciting proposals to conduct an assessment study of specific aspects of disproportionate minority contact within the state’s juvenile justice system.  The award will be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 for a six-month period.  Interested parties can download a copy of the Request for Proposal (RFP) document hereProposals will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6.  For additional information, please check out the GCC website, or if you have questions, contact Lead Juvenile Justice Planner Carlotta Winstead by email or call 919-733-4564.

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently seeking a research manager.  The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience, a commitment to advancing improvements in juvenile defense policy and practice, a love of research, writing, and critical thinking, and an eagerness to build a career at the intersection of youth justice and social change.  The selected candidate will be responsible for developing and executing research efforts to advance NJDC’s mission, and strengthening the empirical qualities and evaluating the impact of NJDC’s work on the community.  This position will remain open until filled.  For more information please check here.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for a Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, who is a member of the senior management team that develops and implements fiscal, operational, human resource, and legislative policies.  The Private Counsel Division is responsible for delivering legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  For more info please check here.

SCSJ

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice still has an opening for an executive director.   The ideal candidate will have strong organizational, communication, and leadership skills, a demonstrated passion for social and racial justice, and experience in developing successful relationships in diverse communities.  For the full job description, please check the post here, and to apply please send all queries here.

 

Training

Registration is now open for the 2018 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, August 16, and Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, August 17.  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, offer approximately six hours of CLE credit, and feature speakers from across the state.  Attendees must register for both conferences separately and the deadline for registration will be August 3 at 5 p.m.  The conferences are free for IDS state employees but there is a $165 registration fee for privately assigned counsel.  You can register and find further details regarding the Parent Attorney Conference here, or go here for the Juvenile Defender Conference.  For any questions about the conference, please contact Tanya Jisa, or for questions about the course content, please contact Austine Long.

every-day-is-training-day

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

Thank you for making it to the end of this week in review.  We have more news and features planned for the coming weeks, so please visit us again soon!

Register for the National Juvenile Justice Network 2018 Forum Today!

Starting Monday, July 16, the National Juvenile Justice Network will be hosting its 2018 Forum in Durham, N.C. at the  Duke University School of Law (210 Science Dr, Durham, NC 27708).  Registration for this three-day event, co-hosted by the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Duke Children’s Law Clinicwill end today.  For those of you interested, but still on the fence about registering, we did a short Q&A with Youth Justice Project Co-Director Ricky Watson, Jr. about what attendees can expect.

Office of the Juvenile Defender:  What is the benefit for both members and nonmembers in attending this forum?

Ricky Watson:  Forum is a great opportunity for both members and non-members to come together to build strength, community, and knowledge.  Before attending Forum, I had never connected with so many advocates doing this work across the country.  The value in attending Forum extends far beyond the annual gathering.  It is one of the best opportunities an advocate can have to make lasting connections with people you can rely on while doing the work.

OJD:  In the past, what has been one of the most memorable experiences for you as a participant/host?

RW:  One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had as a participant in Forum was having the opportunity to listen to youth organizers speak to members of Forum.  They posed genuine questions to our group of advocates about why we do the work we do.  The conversation was passionate and thoughtful and many walked away with a strong reminder of how to approach youth advocacy.

OJD:  In ten words or less, how would you describe your feelings/expectations for this year’s event?

RW:  I am excited to welcome youth advocates to my home.

Police Platform

Thanks, Ricky!  And to our readers, registration for the Forum ends soon!  Please don’t miss out on this fun networking and training event for juvenile justice advocates!

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!

Reflections & Foresight on N.C.’s Journey for Juvenile Justice at Raise the Age Victory Celebration

On Thursday afternoon, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., advocates for Raise the Age from across the state of North Carolina (and probably beyond) assembled at Trophy Brewing in Downtown Raleigh for a victory party hosted by the Raise the Age Coalition to celebrate the passing of the new law extending the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  RTA Vic Party crowd

Representatives from many organizations, from Disability Rights N.C. to the state Legislature, were in attendance to celebrate the monumental occasion.  After struggling for more than a decade to make this necessary change to the juvenile justice system, the festivities were well-deserved.  Everyone present seemed to be in good spirits after finally seeing their diligence pay off, but the people who have supported this effort for so long understand that there is still more to be done.

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” said Tyler Ford, research assistant to Senator Paul Lowe.  “The state can now focus on guiding juveniles in the right direction, but we definitely have a long way to go.”

In the middle of the event, Susanna Birdsong, state policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called on multiple speakers to share their thoughts and words of encouragement with the crowd.

Brandy Bynum Dawson, associate director for Rural Forward NC, was the first of the speakers, addressing all of the long years of advocacy to make this moment possible in her speech.  “This win is for North Carolina’s youth!” Dawson said.  “Congratulations on never giving up!”

Dawson was followed by Sens. Marcia Morey and Duane Hall, who each spoke briefly about their work in the judicial system before coming to the Legislature.

“This is why I left the bench to go to the Legislature,” Sen. Morey said.  “This is about the kids.  This is about the thousands of kids I would have sentenced as a judge.”

The final speaker for the event, Ricky Watson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project, stated that until the law is fully implemented, the goal would be to increase diversion programs and try to keep kids out of the justice system in the first place, continuing to advance justice for youth in North Carolina.

RTA Vic party

Following the presentations from the selected speakers a few others present were kind enough share their thoughts on the new legislation and what it means going forward.

“This is a smart juvenile justice reform that is going to help a lot of kids in North Carolina,” said LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government.

Deana Fleming, assistant legal counsel for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, stated, “I’m just happy to be able to put North Carolina youth on equal footing with the rest of the states.”

“This is only the beginning, there is still work to be done,” said David Andrews, assistant public defender for the N.C. Office of the Appellate Defender.

And while the work to improve the juvenile justice system continues, so do the celebrations for what has been achieved so far.  On Wednesday, August 2, the North Carolina Chamber will be holding its own reception in the Reynolds American Boardroom at 701 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 400 in Raleigh.  The reception will last from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Guests will need to RSVP with Kristy Kappel at kkappel@ncchamber.net.

 

House Holds Hearing for House Bill 280, Governor Gives Proclamation for Gault

The anniversary is nigh, people, and Gov. Roy Cooper issued his proclamation last week commending May 15th as the 50th anniversary of In re Gault.  This proclamation will soon be added to the N.C. Gault page along with other content.  Check back over the next few days and be prepared to join us May 15 at noon for our Twitter Town Hall, sharing your thoughts and questions on Gault using #Gault50NC!

Gault50NC Twitter Town Hall

In other news, on Wednesday, the N.C. House of Representatives Committee held its first hearing for House Bill 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act.  The Committee voted unanimously in favor of passing the bill on to the next phase.

celebrate

“Why would one put most juvenile offenders in the adult justice system when only a small percent need to be treated as adults?” asked Rep. Chuck McGrady, one of the primary representatives in support of the bill, acknowledging that only 3 percent of crimes committed by juveniles in N.C. are considered violent.  McGrady also stated that by raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction there would be much lower rates of recidivism for juveniles and lower costs for the state as a whole.

Rep. Allen McNeill suggested an amendment to the bill, citing sections of it that addressed gang activity among youth.  McNeill conveyed his concerns about youth continuing their involvement in gangs after release from juvenile detention, referring to his own experiences in law enforcement.  One other representative raised concerns for the need to include F-I felonies in the amendment as well, since current gang recruitment acts would fall into those categories  (the current bill only automatically sends juveniles to the criminal justice system for class A-E).  No amendments have been made yet.

Several other supporters of H280 stood to voice their thoughts on the need to raise the age including N.C. Child’s Adam Sotak, Youth Justice Project’s Ricky Watson, Jr., and Commissioner Brenda A. Howerton.  Howerton, who is president-elect of the North Carolina Association of Counties, pointed out the success of diversion programs for youth specifically in Durham County while emphasizing her support for raising the age.  One speaker likened a criminal record for a juvenile to a “scarlet letter” that prevents them from obtaining significant opportunities as adults, even for nonviolent offenses.  It was also stated by one prosecutor that the role of a prosecutor is not to just gain convictions, but to actually keep communities safe and uphold the constitutionality of the law.

RTA

“If we [raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction] the sky will not fall and we will see the benefits,” said Gwendolyn Chunn, former president of the American Correctional Association and former executive director of the Juvenile Justice Institute.  Chunn related the moment to a religious experience and she stated that N.C. is not a hotbed for crime, but a very progressive state that needed this change.

Karen Simon, director of Inmate Programs at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, said that youth in the adult system are at risk of being put into solitary confinement, which is shown to have detrimental effects on the mental health of prisoners, especially juveniles.  “Think not of a faceless group of 16- and 17-year-olds,” Simon said, “but think of your own kids.”

Rep. Marcia Morey, a former chief district court judge, said that not all felonies can be treated the same, and reduction in cases and adjustments are possible.

“We need to give every young person the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Rep. Bob Steinburg.  “…with the current laws, we might as well hand them their death sentences.”

The bill was introduced to the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning, and while there was some opposition to it this time, it was passed in the Committee with a strong majority and is expected to be heard on the House floor later in May.  If it continues to pass into law, H280 will take full effect in 2019.

 

Youth Justice Project Promotes #RaisetheAgeNC Virtual Advocacy Day

Today, starting at 9 a.m. and continuing until 7 p.m., the Youth Justice Project is hosting a Virtual Advocacy Day to raise awareness about the need to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in N.C.  Since New York passed legislation to raise the age to 18 earlier this week, North Carolina now remains the last state to at least include 16-year-olds.

In this event, the Youth Justice Project shares information through various social media outlets, including Twitter and YouTube, and collaborates with various juvenile justice advocates to rally support for House Bill 280.  One YouTube video also features Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry speaking with Ricky Watson on this monumental issue.  You can view the video here.

For more information, please check here and to join the conversation visit the Youth Justice NC Facebook page and tweet @YouthJusticeNC and use #RaisetheAgeNC.