Friday, April 21, 2017

juvenile justice.

Wednesday night, Ben and I went to a film screening and discussion hosted by Human Rights Watch focused on juvenile sentencing and justice issues. The film, They Call Us Monsters, is a powerful statement about what we are doing to children who have committed crimes and the ripple effects more broadly.

Elizabeth Calvin, at HRW, heads up the Children's Rights Division and has worked tirelessly over the decades to help pass legislation to provide more protections and hope for these minors. I had no idea that currently in California, kids can be taken out of school without informing the police and interrogated by police without their parents present. Last year, in large part thanks to Elizabeth, the California legislature pushed through a bill (Senate Bill 1052) that would ensure that before an interrogation, youth are talked to by an attorney to understand their Miranda rights before they waive them. Of course this makes sense. How does a child understand what giving up your Miranda rights means for them. It is hard enough for an adult to understand this and not succumb to the pressure of a police officer, let alone a child.  The bill passed the legislature last year, but unfortunately, Governor Brown vetoed it. The plan is to reintroduce the same (or very similar) bill again this year.

The film and discussion were interesting to say the least and it is an issue we hear about peripherally but I definitely wasn't aware of the details and just how slow progress has been on these issues.

If you are interested, the trailer to the film and also the short HRW video about the senate bill are below. Powerful stuff.

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