Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Even if a suspect's a "kid"/he still has rights

http://www.silive.com/columnists/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1230038126170200.xml&coll=1

Even if suspect's a kid, he still has rights
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
DANIEL LEDDY
Staten Island Advance STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. --

The nation gasped in stunned disbelief last month when authorities charged an 8-year-old Arizona boy with the premeditated murder of his father and another man inside their home in rural St. Johns. That this is a terrible tragedy for all concerned is obvious. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the case will become the catalyst for a change in the way the individual states treat children accused of serious wrongdoing. With people across the country talking about how the matter should be handled, an uncharacteristic and potentially sobering spotlight has been cast on juvenile law in America. Last week, for instance, the case was the subject of a spirited debate on the popular "Dr. Phil" television program. The Arizona case raises several issues that children's rights advocates have been trying in vain to get the public to focus on for years. For starters, consider the manner in which a confession was extracted from this little child. Despite the fact that the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination applies to children, this 8-year-old boy was isolated from family and friends and subjected to intense interrogation by investigators. At no time during the questioning was he provided the aid of an attorney; nor was he ever advised of any of his Miranda rights. Of course, even if he had been so informed, he would have been incapable of understanding these constitutional protections or appreciating the consequences of declining to invoke them. This is why law enforcement should not have questioned the child without first providing him with counsel, even in the absence of a request for such assistance. Granted, current law does not require such admirable initiatives from law enforcement. But when the muscle of the state is pitted against the pathetic vulnerability of a little child, it clearly should. After the videotape of the interrogation was made public, authorities sought to justify their failure to advise the child of his Miranda rights by claiming that he wasn't a suspect at the time the questioning began. While that's hard to believe, he clearly became a suspect during the course of the interrogation. At that point, the Constitution required that he be fully advised of his privilege against self-incrimination. MANIPULATING A CHILD Next, consider the confession itself. While it may or may not be true, the fact is that an 8-year-old, set upon by professionals with agendas, can be manipulated into saying and even believing just about anything. Thus, even if law enforcement had informed the child of his constitutional rights and even if he could have intelligently waived them, the confession still would have been inherently unreliable. Yet, it's beyond dispute that confessions are powerfully persuasive at trial, particularly when a defendant's fate is in the hands of jurors. Why, they wonder, would anybody confess to something that he didn't do? Of course, if jurors were able to put themselves in the shoes of a terrified little boy, very much alone and very much afraid, they might be able to understand. But they can't because, despite popular but preposterous fiction, adult jurors are not the peers of little kids. Nevertheless, upon the child's arrest, police called for him to be tried as an adult. When it comes to the way accused children are treated in this country, the United States is positioned at a level of barbarity that borders on the insane. Put aside, for a moment, all those mea culpas about the treatment of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. Worry first about a legal system that pretends that American children are American adults and proceeds to torture them in American jails. How bad is it? South Carolina charged 12-year-old Christopher Pittman as an adult after the child, suicidal and depressed, was isolated by police and induced to confess to killing his grandparents at a time when he was involuntarily intoxicated on the antidepressant Zoloft. He must now spend a minimum of 30 years behind bars in an adult prison. How bad can it get? In most states, there is no minimum age for trying a child as an adult. None. So, yes, Arizona can try an 8-year-old as an adult, just as it could if he were 5 years-old. When it comes to dealing with kids in crisis, common sense and common decency have been eviscerated by mean-spirited prosecutors and unscrupulous politicians. Together, they have effectively hijacked a juvenile justice system that had worked magnificently for generations in rehabilitating kids without compromising public safety. And they will continue to pollute American law until the good people of this country are repulsed enough by their outrages to rise up and stop them. Will that be the good that comes from the tragedy in Arizona? Like the children imprisoned in adult jails, all we can do is hope.

Daniel Leddy's On The Law column appears each Tuesday on the Advance Op-Ed Page. His e-mail address is JudgeLeddy@si.rr.com.
©2008 SI Advance © 2008 SILive.com All Rights Reserved.

(Posted in the interest of justice & PUBLIC AWARENESS/ authors/copyrights acknowledged/NO infringment intended)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Abuse reeks in society

What a pathetic shame, respect and kindness are unknown words. Verbal abuse cuts and hurts very deeply, and many times, we cannot do a thing about it. Most esp. in a visitation situation. I have experienced my share of abuse from the guards, when I visit imprisoned children. The things they make an issue of, is so petty, it is ridiculous, and seems they delight, get their jollies from it, cause they know they can. My heart aches for the kids, for we all know, the abuse they have to endure on a daily basis. There is no compassion, kindness spoken, treated less than a human being they are. The general society has no clue, and does not even care to know, that in fact, there are p.o.w. like camps, right in our own back yards. The emotional trauma these kids are put thru, what kind of person, will be released out to society? They went into prison as a dependent child, they will be released as a dependent, once again, upon their familes and society. When will the cycle of abuse end? No one knows or understands, unless they are walking in "our shoes". Trust and loving support for each other is so important to each of us, in our struggles, on our many life's journeys. I give what I can, but cry often, and hurt so deeply inside my soul, in many of these kid's situations, been there, done that, even more reason, I will "never be silent", about these atrocities of "injustice" against these "children". If we do not speak out for them, WHO WILL??

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Juvenile Justice~Getting out and staying OUT

We, juvenile justice advocates have been saying this same identical item for years, it does NOT take a rocket scientist to know and understand that "CHILDREN ARE "NOT" ADULTS". This article is one of the best I have read so far, but again, mean nothing unless IT BECOMES LAW, which is what we advocates push for every day, ALL under the age of 18, should and must be dealt with in a JUVENILE COURT OF LAW, for the child they are!!!!! There are a lot of "unsung heroes, 'out there" busting their butts each and every day, to help make this happen, NO one needs a college degree or hold a very prominent position, all one has to have is a caring heart and understanding that "children are NOT adults". Law reform change is imperative to help save our nation's youth, from totally "destruction" and "deaths"

PLEASE READ FULL ARTICLE, not posted due to copyrights

http://www.chicagodefender.com/article-2620-juvenile-justice-get.html