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The NEXT Generation. “NO MINOR MATTER!!”. An International Outlook on Juvenile Injustice. Should a Minor who commits a violent crime be incriminated as an Adult?.
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“NO MINOR MATTER!!” An International Outlook on Juvenile Injustice
Should a Minor who commits a violent crime be incriminated as an Adult? • Far too often, children around the world are brought to trial and sentenced in ways that violate their rights under the UN convention on the Rights of the Child (particularly article 40). • Between 1992 and 1998, at least forty U.S. states adopted legislation making it easier for children to be tried as adults.
KIDS Says the ‘DARNEST’ things.. • A minor can't cast a vote to affect our government, yet he can be harshly punished by it. This is not only unfair, but harshly unjust. • Does anyone else see the sheer hypocrisy of this? The hypocrisy of trying children and teens, classified as legal minors, as adults? • It makes no sense, yet increasingly it is happening in courts across the nation and the World.
Its Happening Everyday All Around Us • An article in 2000, published by ‘sfgate.com’ reported that Nathaniel Abraham, 11, was charged for murder in Michigan as an adult. • Nathaniel Brazill, 14, was tried as an adult in a Florida court for shooting his English teacher.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT • President Bush’s previous reforms as Governor include: • rewriting the Texas Juvenile Justice Code, lowering to 14 the age at which the most violent juveniles can be tried as adults, • expanding the use of fingerprinting and photographing juvenile criminals to help police track gangs, creating weapon-free school zones, toughening penalties for selling guns to kids, • encouraging the use of boot camps and ‘tough love’ academies to house and rehabilitate juvenile offenders.
“A spoken quote from our leader” “I want those young people who commit crimes to be held accountable for their actions; most 14-year olds who commit violent crimes can now be tried as adults and sent to adult prison.” Source: www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/faq_index.html 12/31/98 Dec 31, 1998
NEW Strides in DEATH Penalty Despite the unequivocal international condemnation of the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders, six countries—Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen—were known to have executed juvenile offenders in the 1990s.
MINOR DEATH PENALTY • The imposition of the death penalty on persons who were under eighteen years of age at the time of their offense violated the provisions of several international and regional human rights instruments, including • the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), • the Convention on the Rights of the Child, • the Beijing Rules, and • the American Convention on Human Rights. DEATH
US: LEADING A DEADLY PACK • There were ten executions of juvenile offenders in the United States represented more than half the known worldwide total, making it the WORLDWIDE leader in executing juveniles. • Since 1973, 17 juvenile offenders have been executed. Twenty-five percent of these executions took place in 2000 • Five executions took place in the U.S. state of Texas; the states of Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Virginia each executed one juvenile offender in the same period.
“You’re LIVING with it…” • Connecticut is one of only three states -- New York and North Carolina are the others -- that automatically try and incarcerate teenagers 16 and older as adults, no matter how minor the offense. The majority of the country considers 18 the age of adulthood, although children under 18 can be sentenced to adult prison for certain crimes. • Each year in Connecticut, approximately 10,000 youths age 16 and 17 are automatically tried as adults, according to the Alliance. Connecticut continues to prosecute them as adults despite research showing that youths held in adult jails and prisons are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted and eight times more likely to commit suicide than youths held in juvenile facilities.
Sellers Case • Sean Sellers, executed in Oklahoma in February 1999, was the first offender who was sixteen at the time of the crime to be put to death in the United States in forty years. • Seventy (70) juvenile offenders were on death row in the United States as of July 1, 1999. • The highest court of the U.S. state of Florida ruled that the imposition of the death penalty on sixteen-year-old offenders is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the state constitution; and effective October 1, 1999, the state of Montana abolished the death penalty for those under eighteen at the time of their crimes. • As a result, nineteen of the forty U.S. states that permit capital punishment now prohibit the execution of offenders who were sixteen years old and younger at the time of their crimes; fifteen of the remaining twenty-one states restrict that punishment to adult offenders.
*KIDDIE FACTS* • The juvenile justice system is moving further from the reason it was created in the first place. Children are not just “little adults”, they need to be treated differently than adults, in a separate system of correction, with an emphasis on rehabilitation. • Young people cannot be held to the same standard of culpability and accountability for their actions as adults. Impulsiveness, poor judgment, and a lack of self-control are frequently characteristics of childhood and are the reasons we limit many of the rights of minors. The age, maturity, mental status, and any childhood history of abuse / trauma of a youthful offender should always be considered mitigating factors in deciding an individual’s punishment.
You have the “right to an attorney”… • (HRW) Human Rights Watch has documented systemic failures to guarantee children legal representation and otherwise provide them with fair hearings in Brazil, Bulgaria, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.
You have the “right to an attorney”… ISRAEL The Defense for Children International reports the non-appointment of a defending counsel; when an indictment is filed against a minor, quite naturally the judge has a certain preconceived notion that the indictment would not have been filed unless there was prima facie evidence (Evidence that would, if uncontested, establish a fact or raise a presumption of a fact).
BLESSED IS THE CHILD for he knows not what he has done… East Jerusalem • DCI-Israel Advocate Dr. Awni Habash: • In the court in East Jerusalem where I represent minors there is sometimes no interpreter. • There was even one case in which the youth complained of having been beaten by his interrogator, who was none other than the interpreter in the same trial!
DEFINE JUSTICE? Guatemala • Zone 18 detention is the adult prison with the most minors, so it’s the prison with the most rape. The guards don’t pay any attention. In jail money runs everything.
“BLESSED ARE THE POOR…” • In Kenya, Human Rights Watch found that street children were committed for years to juvenile correctional institutions after they were found “in need of protection or discipline” in summary proceedings with no legal representation.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH • In India, we found that police regularly detained street children without charging them with any offense and failed to bring them before magistrates in the time period required under India’s Juvenile Justice Act; beatings are a common feature of police treatment of children in detention. • In Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and elsewhere in the English-speaking Caribbean, juvenile court judges may impose sentences of flogging for certain crimes. In addition, children in detention in these countries may be subjected to corporal punishment as a method of discipline.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE • The South African government initiated a program in November 1997 to keep children out of the country’s prisons, although delays in implementing the program limited its effectiveness. • In Bangladesh, the government has readily accepted the need for improvements in conditions of confinement for children in conflict with the law, in particular noting in its 1997 supplementary report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that “Too many minors are held in jails and police stations alongside adult offenders.”
CELEBRATE!!! • In Jamaica, following the July 1999 release of a Human Rights Watch report condemning the practice of detaining children in filthy and overcrowded police lockups, the government announced that it would move all detained children to juvenile facilities.
James J Age: 11 James had been living on the streets since he was abandoned at age 7. One night during a heavy rain storm, he took refuge on the covered porch of a business in order to sleep and escape the rain. Early the next morning after being awoken by the owner, he was severely beaten. He was drug to the owners car, where the owner held him by the ankle outside the car door, and drug him down the street to the next corner where he was left bleeding an crying. Unable to walk or work to earn money for his food, he laid there until discovered by Haitian Street Kids International.