Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Week's News: Youth in Transition


Cleveland Summit Seeks Solution to Dropout Problem
90.3 FM WCPN, Cleveland, OH – May 21, 2009
Retired Army General Colin Powell has called America's high school dropout rate "a national catastrophe." He helped formed a group called America's Promise to stimulate action, and it is holding "dropout prevention summits" in areas with the worst rates. That includes Cleveland which has the third lowest graduation rate in the nation among large cities.

High-tech sleuth helps reduce truancy
The Houston Chronicle, New Caney, TX – May 25, 2009
Seventeen-year-old Clarissa Curry, a New Caney High School student, is a repeat-offender truant which, in Judge James Metts’ court, likely would have landed her in jail. But the judge found a high-tech alternative. Instead of spending a three-day weekend in the Montgomery County Jail, Curry must spend six weeks carrying around a handheld device the size of a cell phone that tracks her every move.

New law may help reduce dropouts, says schools chief
The Huntsville Times, Huntsville, AL – May 21, 2009
Local school leaders hope a new law reduces the number of high school dropouts. Ann Roy Moore, superintendent of Huntsville schools, praised a state law signed Monday that increases to 17 the age when students may quit school. By keeping potential dropouts a year longer, Moore said those students might decide to stay in school to graduate. "They need as much education as they can get," Moore said of all students.

Juvenile Justice

Advocates seek juvenile justice reform
Star-Gazette, Albany, NY – May 25, 2009
Advocates for improving juvenile justice in New York claimed last week that the state is not fully complying with a federal law that requires it to address the disproportionate number of minority youths in the system. The Children's Defense Fund of New York, the Legal Aid Society and other organizations said that to help turn that around, state and local agencies need to do a better job of reporting information on the racial and ethnic makeup of children who are arrested, placed in detention or incarcerated.

Site Launched to Support Youth Sentencing Reform Bill
California Chronicle, Sacramento, CA – May 23, 2009
Supporters of SB 399, the Fair Sentences for Youth Act, have a launched a new website – www.fairsentencingforyouth.com – to advocate for passage of the legislation. SB 399, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would allow courts to review cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole after 10 years, potentially allowing some individuals to receive a new sentence of 25 years to life. The new website includes extensive background information on the issue, including the stories of inmates and victims´ families, data on brain maturation, and an easy avenue for individuals to support SB 399 and lobby legislators. SB 399 is currently being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ex-convict celebrates college graduation, a new life
Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD – May 21, 2009
R. Dwayne Betts seemed headed for a bleak future. Twelve years ago, the promising high school junior from Suitland and a friend carjacked a man at gunpoint in Northern Virginia. Betts, who had figured he would be the first in his family to go to college, went to prison instead, sentenced at age 16 to nine years behind bars. This evening, Betts will pick up his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park and address his fellow graduates. It's just the latest milestone in a phoenix-like recovery from the mistakes of his youth. He's already deep into graduate study at an elite North Carolina college, and his prison memoir, A Question of Freedom, is to be published in August, with a book of poetry, Shahid Learns to Pray, to follow next year.

Foster Care

“Virtual Parent” Debuts to Help Ohio Youth Transition to Adulthood
Public News Service, Coumbus, OH – May 20, 2009
Ohio teens have a new "virtual parent:" a website that debuts today. It will provide information to youth preparing to "age out" of foster care, helping them make the transition to adult independence. More than 1,300 Ohioans leave foster care each year. Brandi Scales with the Public Children Services Association of Ohio says many of these youth have been in state care for several years and have no safety net to help them deal with the challenges of adulthood.

Ethel's Tree of Life seeks fed funds to help at-risk youths get summer jobs
Foster’s Daily Democrat, Portsmouth, NH – May 22, 2009
A Kittery-based nonprofit organization has applied for federal stimulus funds aimed at helping at-risk youths get jobs for the summer. Organizers behind Ethel's Tree of Life are seeking upward of $81,000 to embark on a program that would provide employment to 30 youths in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern York County in Maine. Ethel's Tree of Life Executive Director Linda Higgins said the organization is aiming to start a "community based work site" for youths to receive a real-life introduction into what it means to be a productive member of the workforce.

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