Lives of Thousands of Washington Youth to Change Overnight this Thursday
Law that seals most juvenile records goes into effect, offering path for successful reintegration
The Youth Opportunities Act (HB 1651) goes into effect on Thursday, June 12, opening up life-changing opportunities for young adults who have too often had to put their dreams on hold due to past mistakes. The Act will result in an automatic sealing of juvenile offense records for as many as 15,000 young adults each year, allowing them to pursue opportunities in housing, education, and employment.
On April 2, 2014, Governor Jay Inslee signed the Act into law, after years of negotiations resulted in overwhelming, bipartisan support for the bill from the Washington State Legislature. Championed by Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-32), and negotiated by Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-27) and Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-32), the bill received near unanimous support in the Legislature.
“A youthful mistake can create barriers for adults long after they’ve paid their debts and prevent them from fully contributing to their communities,” said Casey Trupin, Attorney with the Children & Youth project at Columbia Legal Services (CLS). “The first day the Youth Opportunities Act goes into effect marks one of the biggest juvenile justice reforms in decades and offers a path forward for young adults to pursue education, employment, and housing.”
For four years, CLS worked closely with partners such as Friends of Youth, Faith Action Network, YouthCare, the University of Washington Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic, and many other strong advocates to ensure this bill passed. The compromise bill ultimately drew support from the Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington, who had opposed previous versions, and was supported by the superior and juvenile court judges’ associations.
The Youth Opportunities Act strikes a balance between rehabilitation and public safety by sealing the great majority of juvenile court records after completion of the sentence and payment of fines and fees, with some exceptions. Under the new law, courts would hold regular hearings to seal records of minors once they turn 18 years of age and have completed their sentence, unless the offense is one of the “most serious offenses,” sex offense, or felony drug offense or there is a compelling reason not to seal. Importantly, the courts will now immediately seal records upon acquittal or dismissal of charges.
Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School Releases New Desk Manual on Challenging Juvenile Life Without Parole
The Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School recently published Challenging Juvenile Life Without Parole: How Has Human Rights Made A Difference? a case study on how human rights frameworks and strategies advance domestic social justice advocacy work. The case study looks at efforts to end juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) and explores how advocates have used a wide range of human rights strategies to advance those efforts. The Institute hopes that this case study will be useful in your work and in conversations with colleagues and funders about how human rights can make an impact.
Looking forward, they are interested in exploring other issue areas that may serve as helpful case studies as well. If you have been working on domestic social justice issues where a range of human rights efforts have been useful, please do not hesitate to send them your suggestions.
Open Leadership Institute Announces 2015 Applications Now Open
Creative Commons is developing an Institute for Open Leadership (IOL) to train new leaders in education, science, and public policy fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices. By training new leaders, connecting them to each other and helping them complete their first capstone open project in their institution, we will prepare them to guide emerging movements in open science, open education, open government, and open culture. These movements are using Creative Commons licenses to broaden public access to knowledge, data, culture, and research around the world, creating new opportunities for education, innovation, and creativity.
The first Institute for Open Leadership cohort will attend the institute during one of these two weeks (which week to be based on conference facility availability): 12-16 January or 19-23 January, 2015. The web site will be updated and applicants notified as soon as the week is selected. Applications are due June 30. For more info and application instruction click here.
Center for International Environmental Law Launches New Research & Advocacy Tools
When you work on international environmental law and policy issues as we do, it can be challenging to feel optimistic. As the global community watches the UN climate discussions underway in Bonn, Germany, however, we are writing to share a couple pieces of hopeful news. First, CIEL has developed two tools to enable all of us to push for stronger international policies that protect forests and related rights. Last February, we announced the launch of ForestDefender, an interactive online legal database that is easily accessible to and usable by lawyers and those familiar with legal systems. As a complementary tool, last week we published “My Guide,” A Community Resource Guide to REDD+ Rights, available in both English and Spanish. My Guide simplifies key human rights relevant to REDD+ that are found in the international treaties, declarations, and decisions included in ForestDefender. It also suggests options for what to do if these rights are violated. These two complementary tools are geared towards safeguarding forests and sustainable livelihoods. They were developed to enable advocates to evaluate if and ensure that the required REDD+ safeguards and rights protections are enforced. They can also be used for other forest governance and climate initiatives. We created these tools in response to specific requests from partners, local community members, indigenous peoples, and supporters like you. They translate relevant international law to the national level and empower lawyers, activists, and community leaders to defend their rights and their forests. Please use ForestDefender and My Guide and share them with others!