Entries in Juveniles (3)


Six Teen Offenders in Washington Caught After Knocking Out Guard

Kevin Horan/Stone(SNOQUALMIE, Wash.) -- Six teenage boys are back in custody after police say they knocked out a female guard in the violent offender wing of a Washington juvenile correction facility, stole her keys and radio, and then fled into the woods.

Staff at the Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie, Wash., alerted the King County Sheriff's Office at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday after the female guard was found by inmates unconscious in a locked room.

Authorities from the sheriff's office, Washington State Patrol and Snoqualmie Police Department quickly mobilized to search the wetlands that border the facility, which is 25 miles east of Seattle.

The six escapees -- three 14-year-olds and three 15-year-olds -- were spotted in the woods by a sheriff's office helicopter equipped with infrared.  The teens then broke off into groups of two, trying to evade capture, said Cindy West with the King County Sheriff's department.

"They were trying to get out of the woods and into the residential area," she said.

Deputies in the helicopter were able to direct deputies on the ground, who were using dogs from the K-9 unit, to where the teens were hiding.

One teen was bitten by a police dog while trying to escape arrest.  The other five boys were arrested without incident and booked on charges of assault, unlawful imprisonment and escape.

West said most of the boys were serving time for assault, firearms and burglary charges.

Echo Glen is a medium/maximum security facility, however it is not fenced.  It houses younger male offenders and is the only institution for female juvenile offenders in Washington, according to the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Nixes Life Without Parole for Juveniles

Kevin Horan/Stone(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Eighth Amendment forbids sentencing that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile murderers.

The 5-4 decision is the latest in a series from the court limiting the penalties imposed on juvenile offenders who commit violent crimes. In 2005 — in a case called Roper v. Simmons — the court rejected the death penalty for juveniles. And in 2010, in Graham v. Florida, it said that juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses can no longer receive sentences of life without parole.

Those decisions were written by Justice Anthony Kennedy who relied on scientific evidence regarding the development of children's brains.

Today's opinion dealt with two different cases regarding offenders who were 14 years old at the time of the crime. One involves Evan Miller, of Alabama, who beat a neighbor and then set the man's trailer on fire so that he burned to death. Miller's lawyers say their client was a victim of serious domestic abuse throughout his childhood.

The other case involves Kuntrell Jackson who was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for felony murder that occurred in Arkansas in 1999 less than three weeks after his 14th birthday. Jackson and two friends attempted to rob a local video store, killing the store's clerk, Laurie Troup. Jackson, who didn't pull the trigger, was charged as an adult.

Bryan A. Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative, who represented both Miller and Jackson, argued in court that juveniles should not receive a sentence with no hope at parole, saying that the decision-making in young teens is "categorically different" than that of adults.

"They're not thinking three steps ahead," Stevenson told the justices during oral arguments. "They're not thinking about consequences; they're not actually experienced enough with the world to understand how they deal with their frustrations in the same way that an adult is."

Stevenson stressed that life without parole sentences for homicide offenses for juveniles are rare. Currently there are about 2,500 prisoners serving for offenses they committed while under 18, and only about 79 serving for offenses committed while 14 and under.

He asked the justices for a categorical rule banning life without parole for any offender under 18 years old, but said the court could also ban the punishment for a child under 15 years old.

"We're not arguing that the state has to give away the authority to incarcerate someone even for the rest of their life," Stevenson told the Justices, but a "meaningful possibility of release."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ex-Judge Who Packed Kids' Detention Center for Profit Sent to Prison

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A former Pennsylvania judge got a taste of his own medicine Thursday when he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for a scheme involving taking kickbacks from a for-profit detention center, where he routinely sent youngsters whether they deserved to go or not.

Mark Ciavarella, who presided over the court in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, was found guilty earlier this year of twelve counts of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and filing false tax returns -- all in connection with a scheme in which he received nearly $1 million in payments.

According to prosecutors, Ciavarella and another judge who already pleaded guilty in the case used their influence to shut down the public juvenile center and then helped a developer and builder set up a for-profit facility.

Prosecutor Gordon Zubrod accused Ciavarella of selling kids wholesale and said he deserved to be sentenced "for the rest of his natural life" for keeping the detention center packed with teens and pre-teens who didn't deserve their punishments, which sometimes lasted three or four years.

Ciavarella's attorney argued the sentence was too harsh and at 61, the ex-judge will likely die in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio