Tag Archives: juvenile

Tracie Hunter may finally have to Serve her Jail Sentence

Former Judge Tracie Hunter

Former Hamilton County judge Tracie Hunter was convicted in September of 2014 for having an unlawful interest in a public contract, for using her office to get documents to help her brother. In December of that year, she was sentenced to 6 months in jail, but she has remained free while her appeals and post-conviction cases have been going on. Her direct appeals were denied, upholding the conviction, and her last resort, a federal petition for habeas corpus has been denied, and the stay pending its appeal has now been lifted. She has a hearing July 18 before the Hamilton County Common Pleas court, where she could be ordered to begin serving her sentence. Her attorneys have filed a new motion to waive the jail, saying medical conditions involving her back and her arthritis prevent her from being able to serve a jail sentence, but that is a hail mary attempt to try to get the judge to allow her to remain at liberty… the same judge who ordered that she serve her sentence back in 2016, before the Federal stay went into effect. The chances she can avoid jail much longer are narrowing rapidly.

Charges Filed against Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Guard in Inmate Death

elord revolte

Victim Elord Revolte

Federal prosecutors in Miami-Dade have obtained a federal civil-rights violation indictment against former juvenile detention guard Antwan Johnson. After a three-year investigation, authorities found that Johnson used honey buns and other rewards to encourage other juvenile detainees to attack one of the minors being housed there, Elord Revolte, who died from the beating. Johnson faces several federal criminal charges that could result in a sentence of up to life in prison. The Feds apparently picked up the case after the State failed to pursue charges.

Somehow, the Johnson was still working as a guard at the detention facility, as authorities arrested him as he was arriving for work. More troubling, the information in the indictment indicates what the Herald reported months ago: that the bounty system used by Johnson was commonly utilized by other guards as well. Johnson is now charged with violating the civil rights of the young man, resulting in his death. He’s charged with orchestrating the attack on one of the children he was paid to protect. It remains to be seen if there will be action on spate of adult prison deaths that the Herald has similarly covered.

Murdered Children and ‘Honey Bun Hits’: A brutal look at Juvenile Corrections in Florida

This week the Miami Herald dropped a bombshell on Florida’s juvenile justice system and the Department of Juvenile Justice. They spent two years researching the last 10 years of juvenile justice history to prepare a report they call “Fight Club.” It’s a devastating read.

The Herald found multiple instances of violence against juveniles. Some from the guards, and others from inmates, sometimes at the behest of guards who would reward them with Honey Buns or other items from the commissary. The article points to low pay, inadequate personnel screening and standards, and tolerance for cover-ups. Indeed, Time and again the Herald found that guards involved in the violence, including juvenile death, were not criminally charged (much like the adult guards in the CCI homicide a couple years back.)

One of the facilities highlighted was here in SW Florida, at the Fort Myers Youth Academy. The Herald says the Youth Academy is a microcosm, “steeped in violence and a culture of coercive cover-ups.” It details guards that were hired, even though they’d been fired from previous prison guard jobs for sexual harassment and bribery to hide abuse. It sounds like the troublemakers cited in the report no longer work there, but the account is troubling.

DJJ filed a lengthy response. Unfortunately, the lives lost by years of abuse cannot be brought back, but hopefully a true culture change can prevent such abuses in the future.

Florida Needs to Seal All the Juvenile Records

Redacted Mug Shot of the 9-Year Old Child

Redacted Mug Shot of the 9-Year Old Child

Yesterday, a nine-year old boy was arrested for striking and threatening his family members. I found out about this because after he was arrested, his mugshot was published online. The mugshot was then picked up by one of the many mugshot publishing web outfits, which promptly put it on Facebook, where it was viewable by their thousands and thousands of subscribers. It then got picked up by other websites, which also re-published his name and photograph.

The News-Press covered the story, but had the editorial restraint not to publish the boy’s name or photograph. I have also edited the photograph, and will not be publishing the boy’s name.

To be clear, there has been nothing improper. The child was charged with several felonies (though he has not been convicted at this time, and it is rather unlikely that the State Attorney’s office will seek to convict him.) Prosecutors will likely be most concerned with getting him counseling to head off a lifetime of violence. But, due to the charges, it is permissible for the Sheriff’s office to publish the photograph. Thanks to First Amendment rights, once media outlets are in possession of the information, they are allowed to publish it. I commend the News-Press from declining to identify the child, though they lawfully could have done so.

I think what’s at issue here is the fact that juvenile arrests are not confidential under Florida law. The criminal case file will be confidential, including the convictions of delinquency for any child unless they are prosecuted as an adult. Ironically, if alternative sanctions are pursued, or the charges dropped, the disposition of the case is not available to the general public. However, the arrest information, including the mug shot and initial charges, are public information. And in this boy’s case, they are out on the internet, and liable to follow him for the rest of his life, regardless of the outcome of the case.  That’s the state of the law in Florida, at this time.

I am a strong defender of the First Amendment, and of the openness of government records. However, if there is anything that should not be public record, and there are quite a few protected areas under the law, criminal allegations against children should almost certainly be included. We won’t let the public know when children are found to be delinquent… but we’ll put their picture on display regardless of whether the charges are even pursued. It’s counter-intuitive to publish one and not the other. The legal discrepancy doesn’t make sense, and this law is a candidate for the Worst Laws in Florida.

Risk Assessments: Will People be Sentenced for Crimes they Might Commit in the Future

Fivethirtyeight.com took an in-depth look at the growing use of Risk Assessments in the criminal justice system. Risk Assessments generally use statistical comparisons to determine whether people’s circumstances are more likely to re-offend. So far, they have primarily been used as part of the evaluation as to what bond, if any, is appropriate for pretrial release. One of the main functions of bond are to protect the community from future harm, and the statistics can help predict the likelihood of additional offenses while the person is on community release. They are used here in Lee County as part of the First Appearance (bond) hearing, as well as statewide in Juvenile court.

Now, some places are considering using them in sentencing, the article specifically references Pennsylvania considering it. In theory, such a sentencing plan could help provide less harsh sentences for people who are unlikely to re-offend. However, the big problem that jumps out is the converse… that people could be sentenced more harshly for the chance that they could commit more crimes. That is, they would be punished for crimes they had not committed. That’s inherently problematic, and would likely face Constitutional challenges if the doctrine ever becomes law. There are additional problems, such as inherent racial imbalances that would likely permeate a statistical system, and departing from individual, case by case sentencing that could specifically consider the characteristics of each case and each Defendant.

The use of Risk Assessments in sentencing runs a severe risk unfairly punishing people based on speculative, generic “likelihood” guesses of future offenses. That doesn’t do a good job of evaluating the person involved, and may not sentence people for the crimes they actually commit. Further, it is likely to run afoul of Constitutional safeguards against unusual punishment.

Former Judge Tracie Hunter Going to Jail

Judge Tracie Hunter

Judge Tracie Hunter

Judge Norbert Nadel has sentenced former Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter to 6 months of incarceration for her felony conviction. According to Cincinnati.com’s Kimball Perry, she can serve in the detention center so she doesn’t have to go to prison, and she can turn herself in after Christmas. Her attorney has asked to stay the sentence pending the outcome of the appeal. That’s not an unreasonable request, as there are certainly some major issues to be dealt with on appeal, such as the jurors trying to go back on their verdicts. That motion will be heard at a later time. Nadel felt that incarceration was appropriate, even as a first time offense, due to the position of trust as an elected official.

via: https://twitter.com/kimballperry

Massive Gnome Theft Ring Busted in Scotland

The Famous Travelocity Gnome

The Famous Travelocity Gnome

Two Scottish teens have been arrested in connection with 33 lawn gnome thefts in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Some of the gnomes are still in “custody”, waiting for owners to come forward. No word on whether the teens are fans of the movie “Amelie”.